How many of us have had that InMail from a stranger where they “thought you might be interested”?  I suspect most of us.  How often are you actually interested?  Back in the day where email was still fresh and not over-cluttered with spam we also used to get these types of communications.  We would open them out of curiosity.  Then however the volume of these “thought you might be interested” emails becoming overwhelming and we entered the world of spam.  Today I rarely see these types of emails anymore because my email spam tools filter them out.

Now we are starting to see the emergence of the same type of spam hitting Linkedin.  One of the great things about Linkedin InMail was that generally you only got InMails from people you knew.  As LinkedIn has ramped up its commercial offering we started to see a shift.  InMail remains considerably more expensive then paid for email in many cases. Unlike email InMail also has to be attached to a personal account.  This means that you never get an InMail from a company, which feels more personal.  This has also been a limiting factor.

The open rates for InMail have remained very high at around 50%.  Compare this to the average email open rate of 18% and the opportunity becomes very apparent.  It is therefore not surprising that we are starting to see an increase in sponsored or commercial InMails.

Given the limiting factors in the past InMails have been quite selective.  However I have started to see more “thought you might be interested in” InMails that are wrong for me.  The difference though is I get annoyed by these spam InMails.  Whereas email can be far more anonymous LinkedIn is not.  If you are sending me an InMail you are on LinkedIn and could check my profile and background.  Alternatively be very selective in your targeting.  It is frustrating to receive InMails from recruiters for roles that require 2 years experience, when I have over 20, with the old “thought you might be interested in”.

If we start to see more of this “scattergun” approach to InMail marketing we will also start to see drops in metrics.  That high open rate will fall and people will disable access to sponsored InMails. This is bad news for businesses.  Whereas with paid email you can pay for opens, with InMail you currently pay for delivery (regardless of whether it is opened).  We may also see LinkedIn have to start offering a “spam” folder or option.

My advice to marketeers or recruiters considering sending InMail is:
  • Make each InMail count – remain selective in how you use InMail
  • Only send to those who you think would be interested – be very selective in your targeting and if possible check people’s Linkedin accounts
  • Use the appropriate language and be honest – if sending mass InMail move away from “thought you might be interested” and spam like language.
  • Make it personal – take a moment to personalise the InMail, it should feel like a 1:1 communication not a mass mail


I still take the time to answer most InMails, even if only to flag I am not interested.  However if the volume increases I will have to change my settings to stop receiving sponsored InMails all together. This is not the experience I want on LinkedIn and I really hope InMail does not just become the new spam-cluttered email.


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