Going Direct to Prospect VS Automating


Scaling the Unscalable – Getty Images

When it comes to marketing and sales, it’s often the stuff that’s less easy and more time-consuming that ends up working more effectively in the long run. Every organization will have to figure out what is their correct mix of automation and direct human-to-human communication, but I believe in going directly to the prospect as much as possible, even if it means doing some things that aren’t so neat, scalable, or convenient.

Recently, I outsourced a direct email campaign. Cold emailing.

Some of you may remember that I felt conflicted about it.

While it’s not my preferred method for reaching out to prospects, I decided to test it and see for myself while I simultaneously implemented other tactics as well — direct messaging, sharing content on social media, attending networking events etc.

The results of trying this walk on the dark side (I felt so dirty) only reinforced my belief that going direct is truly the best way. This is not to say that cold emailing never works. I’m sure it does occasionally.

How we did it:

We used an app to target our prospects based on industry and need. The app analyzes companies’ online presences and gives them a score, determining whether or not they are lacking in social media marketing and SEO. Sounded pretty cool so I thought I’d try it. Why not, right?

Being the copywriter that I am, I insisted on writing most of the copy for the email templates myself, although I did allow their team to make some adjustments as they saw fit.

The results after one month?

Only one reply and it was a negative one.

Let’s contrast that with the other new approach I was trying out:

Direct messaging or “DMing” as the kids call it these days.

For two weeks, I spent about 1-2 hours a day DMing people on LinkedIn. I’d send connection requests to people based on job titles that match my target audience and then send them a DM after they accepted my connection request.

I developed about 5 message templates. I select which one to use depending on the person to whom I’m sending. Each template was a genuine message to one person at one time, which I saved so all I have to do is pick a template, copy and paste it, and insert the person’s name after “Hi,”. Not very time-consuming, but it can seem a bit tiresome and redundant to do it again and again hundreds of times in a row.

Currently, LinkedIn does not allow you to set up auto-responders. However, even if they did, and I’m sure there are apps that can at least help you schedule them and remind you to send, I’d still do it the “old-fashioned” way. Why? Because, while I’m not against automation when it helps you get the same job done faster, I don’t believe in automating faking a one-to-one human interaction. When people find out it’s not you, it will only backfire. I also want to be there to reply and remember who I’m talking to.


While I don’t have the exact numbers (sorry data nerds), within a span of two weeks, I received a flurry of phone-calls, about a dozen inquiries, and one lead, which led to a proposal and a potential deal, which I’m currently in the midst of negotiating. Achieving these KPIS demonstrates to me that this tactic works. The proof is in the pudding, folks. The more I DM on LinkedIn, the more positive results I’m going to have. I’m going to keep DM-ing til LinkedIn temporarily blocks my account.

The reason I think it works better than automated cold emailing? That can be a subject for another post, but I think it works because a message on social media still has more of a personal feel than an email. DMing hasn’t been destroyed by marketers yet the way emailing has, although DM-ing has to be done right for it to work. Also, unlike a faceless email, people can click to see your profile, your work, and your past accomplishments. Additionally, people on LinkedIn are there to network and do business development, so it’s not considered rude or out of place. Of course, don’t open with a canned pitch. Start a conversation.


DM DM DM! All the way.

Grab your phone and get out there! It’s not something our parents and grandparents had available to them. Now, you could be at a networking event sitting at the bar before the rest of the attendees arrive and already networking. You can connect with potential clients, customers, investors, employees, and people with whom you can collaborate while you’re at home in your bathrobe and slippers or laying in bed. So, if you’re in a B2B business like I am (marketing agency), take advantage of LinkedIn DM today!

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I'm a writer and digital marketer. Communicating your brand's message and helping you to connect with the right audience is my specialty. If you are interested in: branding, marketing, copywriting, social media, search engine marketing, inspiration, success, and enjoying life, then my blog is the right place for you.

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