LinkedIn generated some buzz around lead generation among marketers in their recent changes to their invitation limits. The 100-Invitation Limit, let’s call it. While marketers have not pinpointed exactly how many invitations, they are allowed to send each week; the average is about 100 per week. There has clearly been a change in how LinkedIn is allowing access to reach out to others on the platform.
While many marketers expressed frustration at LinkedIn’s move, there are some good reasons for the change that resulted in sweeping benefits for users of the platform. For instance, the 100-Invitation Limit allows for less “noise” all around, giving the user an increased value in the time they spend on LinkedIn. It also encourages marketers to spend more time making their contact count: researching best matches, cultivating relationships instead of trying for a quick hit. When you receive a message from a marketer, it’s more likely to be one for something you are truly interested in.
What Happens if You Exceed the Limit?
LinkedIn may not have announced what the official magic number is, but practically all marketing automation platforms are recommending users not to exceed 100 invitation requests a week.
There are behaviors that trigger LinkedIn’s system that cause your account to be flagged and possibly lead to time spent in “LinkedIn Jail.”
One of those behaviors is a recipient of your email marking the message as spam. The other is simply if you send out too many invitations at a time. “LinkedIn Jail” is the temporary flagging of your account; multiple violations can lead to LinkedIn permanently banning you from the site.
Some LinkedIn marketing automation platforms show you your stats to help you make sure you do not go over the limit.
Because we know how easy it is to get restricted on LinkedIn, some have built-in safety features that will keep you out of trouble.
You have total control over how many messages you send out every week and can monitor this to make sure you don’t get flagged.
Challenges in Lead Generation
Business owners also report a wide variety of other challenges that keep them from producing the quality and quantity of leads they need on LinkedIn:
Finding Buyers That Meet Your Best Client Criteria: Over and over again, business owners find themselves with leads that are not a fit for their service or product. Using Sales Navigator helps you filter the right type of companies and individuals to build relationships with. Unfortunately, it is not a perfect system. Before the LinkedIn restrictions were in place, it was common to spread a wide net, hoping to “catch” some fish. But with the recent restrictions, a good marketer must make sure that each and every invitation they send goes out to a qualified prospect, one that meets your best client criteria. The only good way to achieve that is by assigning a human to review the company and person’s profile information and make sure there is a fit.
Getting a Good, Measurable Return: Measuring the return on investment (ROI) for marketing can be frustrating; how do you know whether your efforts are paying off in actual leads? Measuring ROI on LinkedIn marketing can be even more challenging. Identifying leads that fit your best client criteria requires a human personally interacting and communicating with prospects. LinkedIn members are smart and experienced; they know when a message is generic and was generated by an automated system, and when a human took the time to address their specific business needs and requirements.
Lack of Time: You are running a business. It can be hard to master the intricacies of lead generation, from specific LinkedIn rules to email automation and running an outbound call center. If you have an internal team responsible for lead generation, they may be spending too much time with top-of-funnel prospects instead of investing their time with highly qualified opportunities. It can take a sales rep hours to simply try and schedule a phone appointment. It is more cost effective and it will boost morale if you choose to outsource the preliminary stage (top of funnel) step of your sales process to experts and trust your sales team to do what you are paying them for, which is close new deals.
The Role of Automation
These are the challenges that lead marketers to try automation on sites like LinkedIn. The right automation tool can help you continue making contact with leads while avoiding LinkedIn restrictions. Some even offer a warning when you are getting close to being flagged for sending too many invitations. But there are good reasons why automation alone on LinkedIn and other platforms is not effective:
- Automation lacks personalization. Even if you can program your messages to start with “Hi, fill-in-the-blank,” most business owners aren’t fooled. They know you’re playing a numbers game.
- When you automate a process and don’t personalize it well enough, your message can get messy. You may be trying to sell to the wrong person or company. Or you could be using the wrong message or the wrong approach. The person you are trying to build a relationship with may be a perfect match, but if your team used the wrong message, you’d be missing the mark, losing a sale opportunity. You will often not even know that you lost the opportunity, and not have a second chance to reverse course and win a new client.
- Nobody likes a hard sell. When you suggest a demo or a meeting in your first message, your message is likely to be deleted. People don’t go to LinkedIn to buy; they go there to build networks. If it’s all about selling for you, you’re on the wrong platform. You have to invest in building relationships. Sales happen because of relationships, not the other way around. You’ll also do best if people see you and your company as experts in your field. That requires not only marketing automation, but just as important is the investment in content development and the right sales process.
Automation cannot help you visit someone’s profile and deliver a customized massage. Only humans can.
When you want to demonstrate (and you must) to a person you are looking to connect with that you care about them about a relationship, visit their profile. Then personalize your message. Pick out a couple of things you read on their profile and use it to send a personalized invite:
- I see you work for… in … capacity…
- I read your recent post on…and really like how…
- Your skillset is very impressive, it would be great to chat about…
People will respond more positively when they realize that you put in the effort into getting to know them. They will greatly appreciate not getting another generic message like they get from hundreds of others.
If you publish content, and you should, they may consider you a course for expert advice. At a later time after you established a relationship, you can send an example of a solution you offered to others in their industry or address a challenge you are aware of.
LinkedIn is Best as Part of an Integrated Sales Process
LinkedIn was not originally designed as a lead generation platform and developing leads through a digital method like LinkedIn only goes so far. You need more than the rough data you obtain through a LinkedIn profile to make quality contacts that lead to sales. You need a CRM system to manage all of your tasks and activities.
For instance, you need access to high-quality business contact data, or Fit data, that can be combined with what is called Intent information. When you combine Fit plus Intent, you learn not only who matches the profile of your ideal customer, but whether they also have an intention of making a purchase that aligns with what you offer.
You need to identify the decision-makers at a company, building relationships with them. This allows you to get past the Fit aspect of your contact with them and learn more about their needs and Intent: their level of interest, their budget and their timeline for purchase.
You also need multiple touchpoints; social media platforms like LinkedIn are not enough. A “close the loop” approach uses multiple touchpoints to build brand awareness, then relationships, with people at the companies that possess both aspects of what you are looking for in a lead: Fit and Intent.
LinkedIn is simply one aspect of a multichannel approach that combines important information with relationship-building.
Automation tools can help you focus on a smaller more targeted subset of prospects. Once you have built solid data related to who the contact is and what their timeline and priorities are, you must introduce a human being for an effective nurturing and sales process.
Blue Valley Can Help You Get Beyond LinkedIn’s Limits
You thought it was bad news when LinkedIn introduced its 100-Invitation Limit, but it may be the best thing that ever happened to your lead generation strategy. It may help you get past the illusion that playing a numbers game with invitations on LinkedIn is the most effective way to build a lead generation strategy.
At Blue Valley Marketing, we help you build an integrated, multichannel lead generation strategy that uses clean data paired with assessing Fit and Intent. In this way, you stop wasting the time of your sales team by delivering warm leads ready for final nurturing and conversion.
It all comes down to adding value and building relationships through the human touch. As Blue Valley Marketing begins making contact with your potential leads, information is being gathered that helps not only sort out Fit and Intent, but also helps determine what kinds of content will deliver the best value to that prospect. Best of all, it’s building trust and respect between your company and your prospect.
As additional contact is made, Blue Valley Marketing continues to build the relationship, using multiple touchpoints to ensure that on both sides, the partnership is a rewarding experience. When the prospect. has been identified as one having both Fit and Intent for your company, your sales team will take over and can close the deal. Contact us at Blue Valley Marketing to get started.
Last Updated on April 5, 2022 by Ronen Ben-Dror