Did you know that you can access the email address of each of your LinkedIn connections?
It’s been a feature of LinkedIn for a long time, but recently we’ve been getting asked more about it. (Perhaps due to the buzz around Microsoft’s acquisition of LinkedIn? Who knows). The interest is justified, however, due to the potential power this approach holds for finance marketing specialists.
Think about it. You could download all of your LinkedIn connections’ email addresses into a CSV. From there, you could upload this data into an email marketing system, like your MailChimp account.
If you’ve got 2000 LinkedIn connections, you’ve just added 2000 contacts to your email marketing campaigns! Brilliant, right? Your finance marketing problems have just been solved.
I’m not so sure. Here’s why I’m conflicted about it.
First of all, I know this approach can work. I used to do marketing in the recruitment industry – a very “volume heavy” outbound sales environment.
In that sector, getting business is usually all about quantity over quality when it comes to marketing. Spray and pray.
That’s why a lot of recruiters like this method (and why you should be careful when connecting with them on LinkedIn). Many of them will extract their LinkedIn connections’ emails using the above method, and send out huge, spammy email-blasts to them. They will also require their employees to upload their own LinkedIn connections’ data onto their system, growing the list even more.
The thinking is: if I email enough people about a job/candidate opportunity, someone, somewhere, is bound to say yes.
It’s not the worst marketing idea. I’ve even seen it work. Sometimes.
The discomfort I feel about it can be summarised as follows.
Just because someone has given you permission to connect with them on LinkedIn, does that mean they have given you permission to email them?
Are your connections even aware that you have their email address due to your LinkedIn connection?
What are the legal privacy implications for requiring your employees to upload their connections’ data onto your email marketing system?
This is a tricky one for the finance marketing professional. After all, LinkedIn can be a powerful tool for financial advisers and wealth managers seeking business opportunities and new clients.
Right now, the general advice we give is to message your connections via LinkedIn. From there, you can ask permission if it’s okay to email them. If they say yes, by all means add them to your system (just make sure there’s a clear unsubscribe button on each email if they change their minds down the road).
I suppose this is the heart behind our thinking:
Even if the above works, say, for recruiters, that doesn’t mean it is an appropriate form of finance marketing. There are other, more legitimate ways to grow your email list.
The financial sector relies on relationships of trust. Financial advisers in particular know this. If a client is going to trust you with their money or investment portfolio, they need total confidence in you.
If you are the sort of person who takes “grey area” shortcuts in their marketing, how can they be certain you won’t take similar shortcuts in how you handle their life savings?
This is why we feel inbound, finance marketing works so well for IFAs. It relies on high-quality content, for instance, to demonstrate thought leadership and credibility to prospective clients.
It uses an active social media presence, for instance, to engage with the digital world, and show the brand’s “human side.” This is really important.
Performed correctly, these kinds of finance marketing fit much more comfortably into the kind of business model offered by financial advisers.