What Are LinkedIn InMail Messages & How Do They Work? (2024)

LinkedIn offers two options to start private conversations on their platform: regular messages and InMails.

Should you use LinkedIn InMails or messages to reach out to people on LinkedIn?


That is what we answer here.

What is LinkedIn InMail?

InMail message is a premium LinkedIn feature that enable you to message linkedin members directly even if you’re not connected.

what is linkedin inmail

With a Basic (free) account, you can only message connected members. To access InMail you need a Premium account.

The 3 Types of LinkedIn InMails

There are 3 types of Linkedin Inmails:

  1. Paid Inmails
  2. Free Inmails
  3. Sponsored Inmails

1. Paid InMails

People subscribed to Linkedin Premium, Sales Navigator or Recruiter get inmails credits every month.

  • LinkedIn Premium Career: 5 InMail credits/month
  • LinkedIn Premium Business: 15 InMail credits/month
  • LinkedIn Sales Navigator: 50 InMail credits/month
  • LinkedIn Recruiter: 150 InMail credits/month

You can’t buy Inmail credits with a free Linkedin account.

linkedin inmails credits

These credits will be renewed every month when you pay your subscription.

You can accumulate of maximum of 3 months worth of credits:

  • 15 inmail credits for LinkedIn Premium Career:
  • 45 inmail credits for LinkedIn Premium Business
  • 150 inmail credit for LinkedIn Sales Navigator
  • 450 inmails credit for LinkedIn Recruiter
paid linkedin inmail renewal

Here is how a paid Inmail look like in the inbox of the person you are reaching out to.

linkedin inmail meaning


They will see:

  • an Inmail tag on your messages
  • a subject line above the body of your message

That is what is visually differentiating inmails from other messages in inboxes.

2. Free InMails

Linkedin Premium users can you send free Inmails to Open Profiles.

Linkedin Open Profiles are Linkedin Premium members who allow others premium user to contact them Inmails for free.

They can do it by activating the “Open Profile” option on the “Data Privacy” tab in your Linkedin Settings.

free linkedin inmails

Here is how they will appear in the inbox:

  • No inmail tag
  • subject line (optional)

The free inmails basically looks like regular linkedin messages.

This is a great news because that will make your messages look less salesy and potentially increase your open and reply rate.

free linkedin inmail inbox

This is a great opportunity if you are prospecting because it virtually allows you to send unlimited InMails on LinkedIn.

To identify Open profiles on Linkedin, you can use Sales Navigator and export the leads in your search with Evaboot.

export open profiles from sales navigator

Once you get your CSV file, go to the column Open Profile and filter on TRUE.

send unlimited inmails linkedin

3. Sponsored InMails

Message Ads (or Sponsored InMail) can be sent through Linkedin ads.

They appear directly in your audience LinkedIn Inbox.

Instead of “InMail”, the mention “Sponsored” appears on the message.

message ads linkedin inmails

You don’t need your prospect to be a 1st degree connection to send a Message Ad.

Your targets can’t reply to your Message Ads by text, but they can click on the Calls To Action you created for them.

Message Ads will only be delivered when your target is active on LinkedIn to optimize open rate.

How To Send an Inmail on LinkedIn?

3 ways to send Inmails on Linkedin:

  1. Send Inmails with Linkedin Premium
  2. Send Inmails with LinkedIn Sales Navigator
  3. Send Inmails with Linkedin Recruiter

1. Send Inmails with Linkedin Premium

To send an InMail message on Linkedin Premium:

  1. Navigate to a Linkedin profile
  2. Click “More”
  3. Click “Message”
  4. Type subject line
  5. Type your message in the text box.
  6. Tap Send.
send inmail linkedin premium

If you reach to an Open profile, the message box will look lihe this.

send free inmail open profile

The subject line will be optionnal and the mention “Free message” will appear at the bottom.

2. Send Inmails with LinkedIn Sales Navigator

To send an InMail message on Sales Navigator:

  1. Navigate to a Sales Navigator profile
  2. Click “Message”
  3. Type subject line
  4. Type your message in the text box.
  5. Tap Send.
send inmail linkedin sales navigator

When you send an Inmail on Sales Navigator you can see how many inmails credits you have left on the top-right corner of the message box.

linkedin sales navigator inmail credits

3. Send Inmails with LinkedIn Recruiter

To send an InMail message on Linkedin Recruiter:

  1. Navigate to a Recruiter profile
  2. Click Message Icon
  3. Type subject line
  4. Type your message in the text box.
  5. Tap Send.
send inmail linkedin recruiter

When you send an Inmail on Recruiter you can see how many inmails credits you have left on the top-right corner of the message box.

linkedin recruiter inmail credit count

How Does Linkedin Inmail Work?

3 things to know about Linkedin Inmails:

  1. You can’t send follow-up
  2. Inmails that get replies are refunded
  3. Subject lines and messages are limited

1. You can’t send follow-up

You can’t send follow-up Inmails with Linkedin Premium, Sales Navigator or Recruiter Lite.

Here is what is written on Linkedin FAQ:

“You can’t send a follow-up or a second InMail message to a LinkedIn member until they accept and respond to your initial InMail. You also can’t send a follow up InMail if the member has declined your initial InMail”

linkedin inmail no follow up

That means you have only one chance to make a good first impression.

Don’t waist these opportunities: make sure your copywriting is on point before you start sending messages.

There is one expection though for Linkedin Recruiter users.

linkedin recruiter follow up

This option is pretty expensive though as a Linkedin Recruiter seat costs $835 per month.

progam inmail follow up linkedin recruiter

2. Inmails that get replies are refunded

Linkedin recently changed it policy regarding the refund of InMail credits. Here is what is written in their documentation:

Every InMail message that is accepted/declined or responded to directly within 90 days of it being sent is credited back. A pending InMail message isn’t counted as either accepted or declined

The more you get replies, the more you get InMail credits.

linkedin inmail refund policy

So make sure to work on your LinkedIn prospecting messages to get the most of them.

3. Subject lines and messages are limiteds

InMail messages can have up to 200 characters in the subject line and up to 1900 characters in the body.

linkedin inmail subject line and message limit

LinkedIn Inmails Best Practices: How To Get More Replies?

7 Linkedin Inmail best practices you can follow to get more replies:

  1. Write short subject lines
  2. Write short messages
  3. Personalize your message
  4. Don’t send messages on Friday or Saturday
  5. Keep inmails as last resort
  6. Automate inmail sending
  7. Don’t forget Sponsored Inmails

1. Write short subject lines

People spend too much time crafing complex linkedin inmail subject lines but the recipe is super simple:

  • one or two words
  • low caps
  • stay vague

Subject lines like:

  • issue
  • itw
  • questions
  • partnership
  • problem

All of them work pretty well.

short inmail subject lines

This example if from an email campaign but same tip apply to Inmails.

One rule: they should look like like a colleague wrote it between 2 sandwich bites.

2. Write short messages

According to LinkedIn data, shorter InMails tend to have higher reply rates than longer InMails.

linkedin inmail best practices

Why is that?

Because you are asking less effort from your prospect to read and answer your linkedin prospecting messages.

Nobody likes to read super long messages like this. It’s too much effort to make for a complete stranger:

shorter inmails get more replies

3. Personalize your messages

We may have read it a thousand times already, but personalization is the #1 performance factor of prospecting campaigns.

linkedin inmail personalization

According to LinkedIn data, InMails sent individually perform 15% better than InMails sent in bulk. Same thing for template-based InMails vs individual InMails.

linkedin inmail template

Here is a great example of a personalized message (sent by a Recruiter).

It’s hard to replicate this level of personalization at scale, but this is what you should aim for.

4. Don’t send messages on Friday or Saturday

According to LinkedIn data, InMails sent on Friday and Saturday get lower response rate.

linkedin inmail tips 21.21.44

When you are launching your InMail campaigns, make sure to send earlier in the week.

5. Keep Inmails as last resort

InMails are your rarest resources to contact LinkedIn members.

You only get 50 per month if you have a Sales Navigator account. So you need to use them with caution.

For LinkedIn and email outreach, you can send:

  • 200 emails per day
  • 100 LinkedIn connection requests per week
  • 50 InMails per month

To reach out to your prospects, you want to use these resources in order of scarcity.

linkedin inmails outreach

InMail cost is the highest, so you want to use them last:

  1. Email
  2. LinkedIn connection requests (and messages)
  3. InMails

That way, your LinkedIn prospecting campaigns will look like this.

These are called email-first sequence.

If you prefer to start with LinkedIn anyway, you can use LinkedIn-first sequences.

how effective are inmails on linkedin

To wrap up, you only have a few InMails every month.

Better use them as a last resort to reach out to people you absolutely need to get meetings with.

6. Automate Inmail sending

It’s possible to automate LinkedIn InMail sending by using tools like Linked Helper or Expandi.

linkedin inmail automation

These LinkedIn prospecting tools allow you to send InMails on autopilot without needing to write every InMail manually.

A big time saver if your manual InMails are already working.

However, don’t automate InMails if you don’t get replies to your manual InMails!

Scaling bad practices will only scale bad results.

7. Don’t forget Sponsored Inmails

Message Ads can be the ultimate LinkedIn follow-up that you send to a prospect when you go no reply to:

  • Email
  • LinkedIn regular messages
  • InMails
message ads linkedin lead generation

So if a prospect doesn’t reply to your InMail, you can try Message Ads as a follow-up.

Linkedin InMails vs. Connection Requests, Messages, and Emails

You have a lot of option to reach out to people on Linkedin: Inmais, Messages, Connection Requests. You can also send them emails.

What should you pick and when?

This is the questuon we answer here:

  1. Inmail vs. Connection Request
  2. Inmail vs. Message
  3. Inmail vs. Email

1. Inmail vs. Connection Request

Shoud you send Inmails or connection requests when you reach out to someone for the first time?

InmailsConnection Requests
PaidFree
Limited by credits100-200 per week
Land directly in Inbox30-50% acceptance rate
1900 characters maximum300 characters maximum
Look more salesyLook organic

The answer is that you don’t need to make a choise: just use both.

linkedin inmail vs connection requests

The advantage of Linkedin connection request is they are free, but they are limited to 100-200 per week and get between 30-50% acceptance rate.

The advantage of Linkedin Inmails is that they land directly in the inbox. You bypass the connection request step.

Doin that you increase your chance that your prospect will actually read your message as Inmail get 50-60% open rate on average.

connection request vs linkedin inmail

Taking that into account, the best strategy is start by sending connection requests and send Inmails to people who didn’t accepted them.

combine linkedin inmail and connection request

This strategy is the best to optimize your first touch reply rate.

2. Inmail Vs Message

Should you send Inmails or linkedin messages to your prospects?

The answer is both.

InmailsLinkedin Messages
PaidFree
Limited by credits150 per day
No follow-upUnlimited follow-up
1900 characters maximum8000 characters maximum
Look more salesyLook organic

With LinkedIn regular messages, you can only DM your 1st Degree connections. That is to say, the people you are already connected with on LinkedIn.

linkedin inmail vs messages

LinkedIn InMail messages allows you to contact 2nd and 3rd degree connection without sending a connection request first.

linkedin inmail vs message 1

Obviously when you are connected to someone on Linkedin you should always send them Linkedin messages. Don’t waste Inmails credits on people you can send free messages to.

The goal of Inmail is to get a reply to unlock unlimited follow-up.

Once someone replies to your Inmail you can send that person unlimited follow-up like it if was a first degree connection.

unlimited linkedin inmail follow up

If the person doesn’t reply to your Inmail then you have no choice but give up on Linkedin to contact that person.

You must switch to another channel like cold email.

3. Inmail Vs Email

Should you send Inmails or cold emails?

LinkedIn InMails have better stats than emails. The average email open rate is 22%, while InMail can have it up to 57.5%.

Same for response rate, it goes up to 10-25% for InMail messages, whereas for emails stay between 1 to 10%

But as I said earlier, there is no need to oppose them.

They are also complementary if use you use a multichannel outreach strategy (combining cold email and LinkedIn outreach).

It’s actually pretty easy to get emails from LinkedIn Sales Navigator.

combine linkedin inmail messages and email

The ultimate strategy is to combine connection requests, messages and Inmails to maximize your reply rate.

When you have LinkedIn URL’s and pro emails, you can use a multichannel outreach tool like LaGrowthMachine to automate your messages.

LinkedIn Inmail Templates

3 types of LinkedIn Inmail template you can use:

  1. Linkedin Inmail Template for Sales
  2. Linkedin Inmail Templates for Recruiter
  3. Linkedin Inmail Template for Job seekers

1. Linkedin Inmail Template for Sales

There are plenty of Linkedin Inmail templates for Sales available online.

Most of them suck.

Here is one that can get you 20-30% reply rate: the RABT Formula

  1. Reason for Outreach
  2. Ask a question
  3. Backup with Data
  4. Tease Your Solution

If you think you can just copy-paste magic LinkedIn InMail templates to get more replies to your InMail, you are fooling yourself.

linkedin inmail template

Templates are the opposite of personalization. However, you can use some frameworks to improve the structure of your messages.

Here is an example of a message that get 27% reply rate.

linkedin prospecting message template

It’s important you don’t pitch in the first message.

The mission of the service message is to start a conversation and make sure your prospect is qualified.

Why would you want to jump on a call with someone who is not a qualified lead?

2. Linkedin Inmail Template for Recruiters

Same rule apply to Linkedin Inmail templates for recruiters. Don’t copy paste stuff you find on the web.

You can also apply the RABT formula on your messages.

linkedin inmail template for recruiters

Take the time to really think about why it could be a great opportunity for the candidate to take that job.

  1. Reason: say why you think it’s a good timing for you to offer that job
  2. Ask: confirm with the candidate it’s the good timing
  3. Back up: Tell if was a good timing for other candidates
  4. Teasing: Show that the opportunity has to be seized now

Most of the time recruiter don’t focus enough on timing in their messages but this variable is essential for a candidate.

They are time to change job and you should identify which trigger or events work best in your case and consistently contact potential candidates when they are in that phase.

3. Linkedin Inmail Template for Job seekers

Same rule apply to Linkedin Inmail templates for recruiters. Most recruiters receive bad messages that are super needy.

You can easily stand out from the crowd if you the RABT formula.

linkedin inmail template for job seekers

Take the time to really think about why you could be a fit and why you think it’s a good timing to hire you:

  1. Reason: say why you think it’s a good timing to contact them
  2. Ask: confirm with the company it’s the good timing
  3. Back up: Tell them you understand their challenges
  4. Teasing: Tell them you already faced on solved these challenges

Usually they are 3 simple triggers you can use:

  1. They publish a job offer
  2. They raise funds
  3. They showed outstanding growth

The list of companies meeting these criterias is big enough for you to send messages for 3 years.

FAQ

What is the Difference Between LinkedIn InMail and message?

InMail allows you to directly message another LinkedIn member without sending a connection request first. Regular LinkedIn messages can only be sent to people you’re already connected to. InMail is a paid feature only available to LinkedIn Premium users.

Can you send an InMail to someone not in your LinkedIn network?

Yes, you can send an InMail to someone not in your LinkedIn network. InMail is a premium feature that lets you message any LinkedIn member directly. You can send an InMail from their profile’s introduction section or by starting a new message. The recipient receives it both as an email notification and in their LinkedIn inbox.

How effective are LinkedIn InMails compared to other outreach methods?


LinkedIn InMails have three times higher open rates than emails. Users enhance emails with emojis and personalization to boost open rates. However, LinkedIn InMails are known for their consistently high open rates, offering a significant advantage in outreach effectiveness.

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