LinkedIn InMail Messages: How Do They Work? [2024 Guide]

LinkedIn InMail is one of LinkedIn’s most influential networking and outreach tools, yet many users still underuse it.

LinkedIn offers two options for starting private conversations on its platform: regular LinkedIn and InMail messages.

However, unlike regular messages, InMails can be sent to LinkedIn users outside your network, giving you a broader reach and three times higher response rate than regular emails.

In this blog post, you’ll find answers to the following questions:

  1. What Is LinkedIn InMail?
  2. Why To Use LinkedIn InMail?
  3. How To Send LinkedIn InMails?
  4. 3 Facts About InMails
  5. How To Write Converting InMails?
  6. LinkedIn InMails VS Connection Requests, LinkedIn Messages, Emails
  7. 3 LinkedIn InMail Templates

So, let’s see how and why you should use LinkedIn InMails to reach people on LinkedIn.

What Is LinkedIn InMail?

InMail message is a premium LinkedIn feature that enables you to message other LinkedIn members to who you are not connected.

what is linkedin inmail

Unlike regular LinkedIn messages, which require a 1st-degree connection, InMail can be sent to all LinkedIn members, making it a powerful tool for outreach, networking, and recruiting.

When you send an InMail, the recipient receives it both as an email notification and as a message in their LinkedIn inbox, ensuring that it gets their attention.

There are 3 types of LinkedIn Inmails:

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

1. Paid InMails

When you subscribe to LinkedIn Premium, Sales Navigator, or Recruiter, you get monthly InMail credits:

  • 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
  • Sales Navigator Teams: 30 InMail credits/month
  • Sales Navigator Enterprise: 50 InMail credits/month
  • Recruiter Professional: 100 InMail credits/month
  • Recruiter Corporate: 150 InMail credits/month

To buy more LinkedIn InMails, you need to get any of these Premium accounts.

how to get linkedin inmails credits

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

You can accumulate a 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 what a paid Inmail looks like in the inbox of the person you are reaching out to.

linkedin inmail meaning


The recipient sees:

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

That is what visually differentiates InMails from other messages in inboxes.

2. Free InMails

LinkedIn Premium users, can you send free Inmails only to Open Profiles.

LinkedIn Open Profiles are LinkedIn Premium members who allow another premium user to contact them through InMails for free.

You can do this by activating the “Open Profile” option on the “Data Privacy” tab of your LinkedIn Settings.

free linkedin inmails

Here is how they will appear in the inbox:

  • No inmail tag
  • subject line (optional)

The free InMails are like regular LinkedIn messages.

This is good because it will make your messages look less salesy and potentially increase your open and reply rates.

free linkedin inmail inbox

This is a great opportunity if you are prospecting because it 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, click Open Profile and filter it to TRUE.

send unlimited inmails linkedin
Export Sales Navigator leads with Evaboot

3. Sponsored InMails

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

They appear directly in your audience’s LinkedIn Inbox.

Instead of “InMail,” mention “Sponsored” appears in 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 the open rate.

Why To Send LinkedIn InMails?

LinkedIn InMails are great tools for connecting with someone who can find it challenging to communicate in other ways.

Let’s say you want to contact the company’s CEO you applied for, but they have a private LinkedIn account.

In this case, you can send an InMail; while the response rate may be uncertain, it’s a valuable opportunity worth pursuing.

To cut it short, here is why you should use LinkedIn InMails:

  • You can contact anyone directly: Send messages to any LinkedIn user, even if you’re not connected, and reach third-degree connections without requesting a connection.
  • They are more effective than traditional email: InMails have a 2.6 times higher response rate than email or phone calls, making them a superior outreach tool.
  • You can track performance: LinkedIn provides analytics for InMails, so you can monitor open rates, response rates, and other key metrics to optimize your strategy.
  • Receive InMail credit rewards: If your InMail receives a response within 90 days, LinkedIn will return the credit used, encouraging more engaging communication.

How To Send an Inmail on LinkedIn?

You have 3 ways to send InMails:

  1. With LinkedIn Premium
  2. With LinkedIn Sales Navigator
  3. 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 with linkedin premium

If you reach an Open profile, the message box will look like this:

send free inmail open profile

You can add the InMail subject line (which is optional), 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 InMail credits you have left in the top-right corner of the message box.

check 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 in the top-right corner of the message box.

linkedin recruiter inmail credit count

3 Facts About InMails

Before you start using InMails here are 3 things to know about them:

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

1. You can’t send follow-up messages

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

Here is what is written on the 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 waste these opportunities: ensure your copywriting is on point before sending your message.

There is one exception for LinkedIn Recruiter users.

linkedin recruiter follow up

However, this option is pretty expensive, as a LinkedIn Recruiter seat costs $835 monthly.

progam inmail follow up linkedin recruiter

2. Inmails that get replies are refunded

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

Every InMail message accepted/declined or responded to directly within 90 days of 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, work on your LinkedIn prospecting messages to get the most out of them.

3. Subject lines and messages are limited

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

How To Write Converting InMails?

Follow these 7 LinkedIn Inmail best practices to get more replies:

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

1. Write short subject lines

People spend too much time crafting complex LinkedIn inmail subject lines, but the recipe is super simple:

  • one or two words
  • low caps
  • stay vague

Subject lines like:

  • issue
  • questions
  • partnership
  • problem

All of them work pretty well.

short inmail subject lines

This example is from an email campaign, but the same tip applies to InMails.

One rule: they should look 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 ask for less effort from your prospect to read and answer your LinkedIn prospecting messages.

shorter inmails get more replies

Nobody likes to read super long messages like this.

It’s too much effort to make for a complete stranger:

3. Personalize your messages

We may have read it a thousand times, but personalization is the #1 performance factor in 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 an 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 have a lower response rate.

linkedin inmail tips don't send messages on friday or saturday

When launching your InMail campaigns, send them earlier in the week.

5. Keep Inmails as a last resort

InMail is your rarest resource for contacting LinkedIn members.

You only get 50 per month if you have a Sales Navigator account, so use InMails 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 sequences.

You can use LinkedIn-first sequences if you prefer to start with LinkedIn anyway.

how effective are inmails on linkedin

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

You better use them as a last resort to reach out to people you need to meet with.

6. Automate InMails

It’s possible to automate LinkedIn InMail sending 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 get 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, LinkedIn Messages, Emails

You can reach out to people on LinkedIn through Inmais, Messages, and Connection Requests.

You can also send them emails.

What should you pick and when?

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

1. InMail vs. Connection Request

Should 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 the Inbox30-50% acceptance rate
1900 characters maximum300 characters maximum
Look more salesyLook organic

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

linkedin inmail vs connection requests

The advantage of LinkedIn connection requests is that they are free but 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.

By doing this, you increase your chance that your prospect will actually read your message, as Inmail has an average open rate of 50-60%.

connection request vs linkedin inmail

Considering that, the best strategy is to start by sending connection requests and Inmails to people who didn’t accept 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 regular LinkedIn 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 allow you to contact 2nd and 3rd-degree connections without sending a connection request.

linkedin inmail vs message 1

When you connect 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 Email, you can follow up with that person unlimitedly as if it were a first-degree connection.

unlimited linkedin inmail follow up

If the person doesn’t reply to your Inmail, you have no choice but to 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 up to 57.5%.

The same is true for the response rate. It goes up to 10-25% for InMail messages, whereas for emails it stays between 1 to 10%

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

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

It’s 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 URLs and pro emails, you can use a multichannel outreach tool like LaGrowthMachine to automate your messages.

3 LinkedIn InMail Templates

3 types of LinkedIn InMail templates you can use:

  1. LinkedIn InMail Template for Sales
  2. LinkedIn InMail Template 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 a 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 copy-paste magic LinkedIn InMail templates to get more replies to your InMail, you are fooling yourself.

linkedin inmail template formula

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 gets a 27% reply rate.

linkedin prospecting message template

You mustn’t pitch in the first message.

The mission of the service message is to start a conversation and ensure 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

The same rule applies to LinkedIn Inmail templates for recruiters.

Don’t copy-paste stuff you find on the web.

You can also apply the RABT formula to your messages.

linkedin inmail template for recruiters

Take the time to 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 time for you to offer that job
  2. Ask: confirm with the candidate it’s a good timing
  3. Backup: Tell if it was a good time for other candidates
  4. Teasing: Show that the opportunity has to be seized now

Usually, recruiters don’t focus enough on timing in their messages, but this variable is essential for a candidate.

It is time to change jobs, and you should identify which triggers 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

This technique works the same way for LinkedIn InMail templates for recruiters.

Most recruiters receive super needy messages.

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

linkedin inmail template for job seekers

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

  1. Reason: Say why you think it’s a good time to contact them.
  2. Ask: Confirm with the company if it’s a good time.
  3. Backup: Tell them you understand their challenges.
  4. Teasing: Tell them you have already faced to solve these challenges.

There 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 criteria is big enough for you to send messages for 3 years.

Conclusion

In final count, LinkedIn InMails are worth it.

Use LinkedIn InMails to unlock powerful direct communication with every LinkedIn user, achieve higher response rates, and track your outreach effectiveness.

With the added benefits of credit rewards and enhanced professional networking, LinkedIn InMails are essential for effective prospecting.

FAQ

What is the Difference Between LinkedIn InMail and Message?

InMail lets you directly message another LinkedIn member without sending a connection request. Regular LinkedIn messages can only be sent to people with whom you’re already connected.

InMail is a paid feature that is 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 start a new message.

The recipient receives it 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 is known for its consistently high open rates, offering a significant advantage in outreach effectiveness.

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