When it comes to social selling, direct messages are your first hard touch with a prospect and usually come when you’re ready to convert the lead into the buying cycle. It may also be the prospect’s first personal impression of you as a person or a brand, and with only 140 characters at your disposal, you need to make each one count.

Depending on your goals, there are a few directions in which you can take your DM, but however you choose to craft it, your initial contact is your best chance to sell. At Socedo, the majority of our leads from Twitter convert to customers after only one direct message. Social media is much more than a content platform: used correctly, it’s the first layer of the sales funnel.

1. Offer

Take advantage of the fact that direct messages in Twitter often have a 30-50% response rate. Putting a link in your DM to a landing page or downloadable resource is a great way to move new leads along the buyer’s cycle. To keep your DM from sounding like an ad, use the customer’s name in your message and mention why you’re reaching out. Compliments never hurt either. And don’t forget to specifically mention what you’re offering in your Call-to-Action; ambiguous links are rarely clicked.

Think one word won’t make much of a difference? Think again. Content Verve foundthat “Start my free 30 day trial” performed 90% better than “Start your free 30 day trial” as a CTA button. Never underestimate the importance of A/B testing.

In addition to a DM, try linking to a public tweet in your stream, with an embedded link that takes the lead to your landing page. The tweet will offer a platform for customers to comment, and new leads will be able to see their testimonials. It can also help you manage conversations at scale. Either way, make sure your landing page is ready to convert your leads.

Master DMs

2. Question

A more natural use for direct messaging is to have a personal, one-to-one conversation, and social selling should take advantage of this opportunity, especially when targeting key influencers or customers who are ready to buy. Starting with a question is the best way to ensure a response, and learn something about your customer in the process. Make sure the question is easy to answer, focuses on the customer, and follows the next logical step towards a sale.

Check out these 10 tips for drafting the perfect conversation-starting DM.

The most important part of this, though, is the follow-up. Plan to respond to their answer within a day, and know what you’re going to say, whether it’s a useful resource to offer or your personal contact info, so you can move the conversation off social media. At Socedo, we recommend no more than three DMs before switching to phone or email.

3. Thank You

Not quite ready to sell? More interested in building an audience on Twitter? Social etiquette frowns upon sending a “thanks for following” on its own, but you can still use a DM to encourage engagement. After all, you’re looking for more followers for a reason, whether it’s to see your content, share their own, or convert them into leads later. Linking to a popular tweet or letting your followers know what kind of content you’ll be sharing is a great way to frame their expectations. If your content is meaningful, you’ll keep the spam factor out of your automated messages. Sometimes it’s helpful to treat your Twitter followers like your email list. If you send too many impersonal messages, you’ll be ignored, or worse, unfollowed.

Personalized messages, A/B testing, and sending thousands of DMs may fall outside your job description, but at Socedo, it’s right up our alley. Our customizable engagement workflow allows you to craft your own automated DM, and we have templates to help meet your goal: building an audience, driving traffic, or starting a conversation. Give it a spin, and see what works for you.