A sponsored message on LinkedIn is a form of paid advertising that allows businesses and advertisers to directly target LinkedIn members by sending them personalized messages in their LinkedIn inbox. Sponsored messages appear alongside regular messages the user receives from their connections and groups.
How do sponsored messages work?
With sponsored messages, advertisers can segment the LinkedIn audience and reach members based on various attributes such as job title, company, industry, interests, geography, age, and more. The messages are delivered directly to the member’s inbox, so they have a higher open rate compared to other forms of LinkedIn ads.
Advertisers bid on the keywords and audiences they want to target, similar to how bidding works for sponsored content and sponsored InMail ads. The minimum bid for a sponsored message campaign is $50 per thousand impressions. The advertising platform runs an auction and the highest bidder wins the ad impression. Members only see sponsored messages from advertisers who win the auction for their targeted segment.
Benefits of sponsored messages for advertisers
Here are some of the key benefits of LinkedIn sponsored messages for advertisers:
- Higher open rates – Sponsored messages generally see open rates of around 20-30%, much higher than LinkedIn’s 1-2% inbox ad open rates.
- Direct access to the inbox – Messages go directly into the member’s inbox like a regular message, so they are more likely to be opened and noticed.
- Highly targeted – Detailed targeting options allow you to reach your ideal customers.
- Personalization – Messages can be personalized with the member’s first name, company, job title and other attributes.
- Measurable results – You can track opens, clicks, and conversions generated by your messages.
- Flexible budgets – Sponsored messages work on every budget and you only pay when your message is delivered.
Creating an effective sponsored message
Here are some tips for creating effective sponsored messages that generate results:
- Keep subject lines short, personalized and intriguing – Get them to open your message.
- Personalize the copy with the member’s first name, company, job title or interests.
- Focus on how your product or service solves pain points for the target audience.
- Use a strong, clear call-to-action – Give them an obvious next step.
- A/B test different messages to see what copy and offers perform best.
- Follow up with additional messages in a sequence to nurture leads.
Sponsored Message Examples
Here are a few examples of effective sponsored messages on LinkedIn:
Lead generation message
Subject line: Boost sales productivity
Message: Hi [First Name], I saw you work in sales at [Company]. We’ve helped sales teams at [Company] boost productivity by 20%. Want to learn how?
Call-to-action: Download the productivity guide
Webinar promotion message
Subject line: Learn how we increased revenue by 30%
Message: With over 10 years in [Industry], we’ve discovered ways to rapidly grow revenue. Join our webinar on March 30 to learn how.
Call-to-action: Save your seat for the webinar
Content promotion message
Subject line: The 2023 guide to [Interest]
Message: We just published a comprehensive guide to [Interest]. Download it to get actionable tips for next year.
Call-to-action: Download the guide
Best practices for sponsored messages
Here are some best practices to follow when running LinkedIn sponsored message campaigns:
- Target your messages precisely using LinkedIn’s robust targeting options.
- Personalize the subject line and message copy with the member’s attributes.
- Focus on providing value rather than a hard-sell promotional tone.
- A/B test different subject lines, offers, and calls-to-action.
- Make sure your landing page is optimized for conversions from LinkedIn traffic.
- Monitor performance and optimize low-performing messages.
- Follow up your initial messages with tailored nurturing sequences.
- Restrict frequency so you don’t bombard members with too many messages.
Potential issues with sponsored messages
While sponsored messages can be highly effective when executed correctly, there are some potential downsides for both users and advertisers:
- Members may perceive them as spammy if they receive irrelevant or overly promotional messages.
- Overuse could crowd members’ inboxes and reduce the effectiveness of messages.
- Poor targeting and personalization results in low open and click-through rates.
- Advertisers may waste budget if messages are not optimized based on performance.
How members can manage sponsored messages
As a LinkedIn member, here are some ways you can manage the sponsored messages you receive:
- Adjust your ad preferences – Go to your account settings and adjust preferences for the types of sponsored messages you want to receive.
- Select “I don’t like this ad” – Click the menu on any sponsored message and select this option to see fewer similar messages.
- Adjust messaging preferences – Go to Settings & Privacy > Communications > Messages and adjust preferences for receiving messages from advertisers and sales professionals.
- Use the LinkedIn ad blocker extension – Install this browser extension to block display ads as well as sponsored messages.
- Report inappropriate messages – Flag any concerning or inappropriate sponsored messages for LinkedIn to review.
Should businesses use sponsored messages?
Sponsored messages can be highly effective for B2B companies targeting LinkedIn members, but they should be used strategically. The ideal advertisers for sponsored messages are:
- B2B companies trying to reach a professional audience for lead generation.
- HR, recruiting and staffing agencies targeting passive job seekers.
- SaaS and enterprise software companies promoting demos or trials of their platform.
- Consultants and professional services promoting content offers and webinars.
- Consumer brands targeting LinkedIn for professional context rather than purely social messaging.
The key is pairing accurate targeting with compelling, personalized copy tailored for the professional context of LinkedIn. When used strategically for the right objectives, sponsored messages can deliver excellent results for advertisers.
- Sponsored messages allow advertisers to directly target LinkedIn members’ inboxes with personalized messages.
- They offer advertisers higher open rates, visibility and targeting capabilities compared to other LinkedIn ad formats.
- To be effective, messages should be targeted, personalized and provide value to the recipient.
- Both advertisers and members should use sponsored messages judiciously to maintain their effectiveness and value.
- When executed well for the right objectives, sponsored messages can be a high-performing LinkedIn advertising method.