Cold Email VS InMail VS LinkedIn Message: What is The Best?

Do cold email give better results than LinkedIn messages? It depends on the way you want to prospect.

Here we compare the efficiency of emails, LinkedIn messages and InMail (LinkedIn premium messages) for prospecting and how you combine for better results.


Let’s compare LinkedIn prospecting and cold email.

Emails VS InMail VS LinkedIn Messages: What is the most effective?

To compare email vs LinkedIn messages, you need to consider these 7 criteria:

  1. Reply rate
  2. Follow-up
  3. Velocity
  4. Deliverability
  5. Cost
  6. Data management
  7. Scale

1. Open and reply rate

LinkedIn cold messages and InMail tend to have a better reply rate than emails.

Email reply rate

Email inbox are super flooded. The widely accepted average across all cold emails is approximately 1% to 10%. But it heavily depends on your campaign on copywriting. Some good outreach managers can go up to 70% reply rate when their email is super personalized.

LinkedIn message reply rate

Linkedin message inboxes are less flooded. The average reply rate is 5-20%.

InMail reply rate

LinkedIn InMails have better stats than emails, the average reply rate is 10-25%. This is a premium LinkedIn feature, so obviously fewer people are sending them. As you only have a limited amount per month to send, people tend to work on their copywriting more than on a free email.

2. Follow-up

LinkedIn messages require fewer follow-ups than emails to get a reply. You can’t send follow-ups with InMails.

Email follow-up

On average, 95% of leads reply after the 7th follow-up email. You can see that the more you send follow-ups, the more you get replies.

email response rate stats

LinkedIn message follow-up

LinkedIn messages require fewer follow-ups. After 3-4 follow-ups, almost all the leads reply.

linkedin message follow up stats

Inmail follow-up

To protect LinkedIn users from spam, LinkedIn doesn’t allow InMail follow up. It means you get only one shot to get a reply from your prospect.

linkedin inmail message follow up

Difficult to say that to sales reps when everybody knows “money is in the follow-ups”

3. Velocity

You can much more people in a limited period of time with cold emails than with LinkedIn prospecting.

Email velocity

You can send up to 150-200 emails a day safely with your email address. If your email address is new, you might need to warm it up a little bit.

LinkedIn message velocity

LinkedIn limited the number of connection requests you can send from 100 invitations per day to 100 invitations per week.

This considerably reduces your prospecting capacity.

There is still a way to bypass this weekly limit and to send up to 500 invitations per week using the hacks described in this video.

InMail velocity

With a LinkedIn Sales Navigator subscription, you only get 50 InMail credits per month.

limited inmail messages

It’s easy to notice that you can’t rely only on InMails only for your LinkedIn outreach strategy. The amount of messages you can send is way too low.

Still, there are some hacks you can use to send more InMails on LinkedIn.

Export Sales Navigator leads with Evaboot

4. Deliverability

LinkedIn messages and InMails have an advantage on email as they don’t go through a spam filter.

linkedin message vs email deliverability

Email deliverability

Unlike LinkedIn messages, cold emails land directly into the main inbox of your prospects

cold email vs linkedin message

You are 100% sure that your prospect will notice your email if you manage to pass the spam filter. But you need to pass it:

For that, make sure to go through this cheklist:

  • Set up DNS Records (DKIM, DMARC, SPF)
  • Use a reputable provider (like Gmail)
  • Keep a clean email list
  • Warm up your mailbox
  • Maintain good open and reply rate

You can follow this step-by-step guide here. If you want to test your email deliverability, you also can take a look at Glockapps

LinkedIn message deliverability

You can only send LinkedIn messages to your first degree connections, meaning the people you are already connected with on LinkedIn.

linkedin regular messages

You can’t send LinkedIn messages to 2nd degree connections (people with common connections) or 3rd degree connection (people without common connection).

It means you need your connection request to be accepted before sending a LinkedIn message.

linkedin connection request

You can send notes with your connection requests, but:

  1. They are limited to 300 characters
  2. Request without notes get higher acceptance rate
  3. You can’t use the following hack if you write notes

InMail deliverability

LinkedIn InMails allow you to land directly into people’s inbox without sending a connection request first.

linkedin inmail message 1

It solves the problem you have with regular LinkedIn messages.

linkedin inmail vs email

You also have the option to add a subject line to your InMail that will be displayed in the message preview.

5. Cost

LinkedIn messaging is the most cost-effective solution as you need to pay to find emails and InMails are paid messages.

Email cost

Sending email is free, but finding email is not. If you want to find the email of your prospect, you will probably need to use an email finder. These tools are not free.

For example, Evaboot is charging $69 for 5000 emails.

LinkedIn message cost

LinkedIn messages are completely free and you don’t need to pay to get access to profile URL of LinkedIn members. This is public information.

InMail cost

You need to buy credits to send InMails. For that, you need to subscribe to one of the premium LinkedIn offers:

  1. Sales Navigator (50 InMails per month)
  2. Recruiter (150 InMails per month)
  3. Premium Career (5 InMails per month)
  4. Premium Business (15 InMails per month)
linkedin inmails credits offers

The cost is not the same for every offer. If you work in sales, you will probably need LinkedIn sales navigator that cost $99 per month.

6. Data management

In terms of data management, email is more difficult than LinkedIn messages and InMails.

Email data management

The main disadvantage of cold email is that you need to find the right emails. When you upload a lead list to an email finder, they will on average find 70% of the emails

Among this 70% of emails found, you can expect 40% of valid emails (meaning the email finder is 100% sure the email exist).

The rest will be marked as catch-all emails (meaning the email finder is not 100% sure the email really exist)

Plus, when a lead changes company, it also changes email. So you need to update your contact regularly as people change jobs more and more often.

LinkedIn message data management

LinkedIn data management is much more simple as the LinkedIn URL are public and the LinkedIn URL doesn’t change when your lead changes job. The public LinkedIn URL can be edited by the LinkedIn members but you can get a URL with a unique ID that never changes.

InMail data management

The exact same thing apply for InMails. There is even a little bonus as you also see your InMail outreach history on LinkedIn sales navigator.

inmail outreach history

7. Scaling

Email outreach is way easier to scale than LinkedIn outreach due to LinkedIn limitations.

Email scaling

Cold email is pretty easy to scale for two reasons. First one is that you can send up to 150-200 emails per day with your email address.

It means you can send up to 6000 cold emails per month (including follow-ups, so that doesn’t mean you can contact 6000 people).

email outreach scaling

If case you want to increase your prospecting capacity, you only need to create a second email address to double the amount of email you can send.

However, remember that sending identical emails to multiple addresses may be perceived as spam. So, change email templates, create new signatures, and segment your audience to ensure people receive offers or information relevant to their needs.

No need to create a fake identity like you need to do when you create a 2nd LinkedIn profile, you can easily manage 2 email addresses with one person.

LinkedIn message scaling

The only way to scale LinkedIn prospecting is to create multiple LinkedIn accounts to increase your prospecting capacity.

This is harder than with email as LinkedIn is fighting this practice and will ban your account if they detect you are creating fake accounts.

Inmail scaling

InMails are really expensive to scale as you need to buy a sales navigator license for every account you want to use. Moreover, each of these accounts will only have 50 InMails to send.

Combine Emails and LinkedIn Messages for Better Results

You can see that emails, LinkedIn messages and InMails all have benefits and disadvantages. Best sales teams combine the 3 channels to get the best results because:

  1. Emails and LinkedIn messages are complementary
  2. You can automate your multichannel outreach
  3. LinkedIn messages and emails follow the same rules

1. Emails and LinkedIn messages are complementary

Emails, LinkedIn messages, and InMails work really well together. They allow you to use different platform to follow-up with your prospect.

You need to use them by order of capacity:

  1. Emails (150 per day)
  2. LinkedIn Messages (Connection Requests: 100 per week)
  3. InMail (50 per month)

This way, you are saving your connection request and your InMails for people who don’t reply to your emails.

linkedin message and email

This is a prospecting campaign template you can use.

Before you send connection request or InMail you can send 2-3 email follow-ups.

Multichannel outreach generates on average 2x more replies than single channel outreach.

2. You can automate multichannel outreach

Multichannel cold outreach tools like LaGrowthMachine can automate your lead generation process.

automate linkedin message or email

Using this tool you can build multichannel sequence combining LinkedIn, email, and soon InMails.

I like this tool because the sequence builder is really visual and it’s really solid. it’s also connect directly to CRMs like HubSpot or Pipedrive.

They don’t automate InMail sending yet, but other LinkedIn automation tools like LinkedIn Helper or Expandi do.

3. LinkedIn Messages and Emails follow the same rules

Whatever outbound channel you use to send your cold messages, they are 3 golden rules that you need to respect in order to get replies: personalization, copywriting and segmentation.

Email and LinkedIn inboxes are more and more flooded with spammy messages. You need to personalize your message to stand out.

A study from LinkedIn showed that InMail sent individually performed 15% better than InMails sent in bulk/

personalize email and linkedin message

A good proof that taking the time to personalize your message with it.

See this message for example:

linkedin inmail template 1

The level of personalization is very high and you got much more chance to get a reply if you send message that look like this.

The same study from LinkedIn also showed that shorter InMails tended to have higher reply rates.

write short emails or linkedin message

This study was made on InMails but you can totally extrapolate to regular LinkedIn message and email outreach.

The principle is the same: sending a first message to start a conversation. So same rules apply.

A study from LaGrowthMachine showed that prospecting campaigns launched on smaller audiences tended to have higher reply rate.

email linkedin audiences

It doesn’t mean that you should always target smaller audiences, but it means you need to work on segmentation.

A good lead generation campaign is composed of:

  • the right message
  • sent to the right people
  • at the right time

If you respect this 3 rules you will get meeting easily.

The era of spammy mass prospecting is over. Segmentation is key to get good results.

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