I tend to get overly excited when I ever I get a positive response from a prospect to a cold email.
I feel as if I cracked some code to gain that momentary share of attention bandwidth and now I’m “in”. From the likely dozens to hundreds of emails that individual received, they chose to take the time to respond to mine…
I realize sometimes its PSL (pure sh*t luck) or simple name recognition but I’d like to attribute some of my success to being thoughtful and deliberate in the approach. Keeping the email simple, relevant and familiar seems to be the key to getting that initial engagement.
In thinking about the metrics behind “cracking the cold email code”; I started wondering what are the odds of my email being seen, let alone opened, let alone responded to no matter how creative and thoughtful I was.
I decided I’d start with the general question of “how many b2b emails are sent on a daily basis”. Most of the data that I was able to personally find that felt “real” (e.g. backed by research) was dated…it seems like 2011 was the last year I could find consistent or comparable figures from multiple sources on email trends. I could find anecdotal stuff from one vendor or data from a survey etc; but trying to validate those figures from multiple sources proved challenging. Either I’m looking in the wrong places (likely), or these research firms simply chase the shiniest trend or the press just isn’t covering this as much so the content isn’t as well indexed. The good research on email was generally pre-mobile and pre-social; so maybe these firms just shifted their attention and focus.
Does that mean email is dead or dying?
Not a chance; but like all things digital it’s obviously evolving. Even with the explosion of social sites, webapps and mobile – all these things require an email address for the most part as a form of digital currency proof of identity / user name.
I did find one source of email trend data that at least had a history of providing information consistently. The Radicati Group out of Palo Alto, California describes themselves as the “Leading analyst firm covering Email, Social Media, Instant Messaging, Security, Wireless, Archiving, eDiscovery, DLP, Unified Communications and more” I’ve never heard of them previously (which means absolutely nothing in terms of their credibility) but there is a nice library of market research information available on their website; most of which is pay to access. I did read the executive briefing they made publicly available on the Email Market for 2013-2017 (link below) and wanted to pass along some interesting figures they share:
- Counting both business and consumer users (unique individuals?); there are over 2.4 billion email users worldwide. There are about 7 billion people in the world; so that number feels “right”. They forecast that number will grow just 3% a year through 2017. I’m guessing internet accessibility in 3rd world countries supresses that growth.
- Counting both business and consumer accounts (unique addresses?), there are 3.9 billion accounts; growing to 4.9 billion by 2017 (growth rate 2x number of users); why the difference? Most people use more than one email address…reasonable.
- Worldwide email traffic (business and consumer) is estimated at 182 BILLION EMAILS PER DAY; expected to grow to 207 BILLION EMAILS PER DAY in 2017. This is only a 3% increase YOY…but that is a serious huge number… Doing the math; that says the average user gets about 75 emails per day (182 billion emails divided by 2.4 billion users) – that math checks out. Separating the business and consumer is where it gets interesting…
- Business alone counts for over 100 Billion of that 182; and they expect business emails to go up 7% per year while consumer emails to decline by 3% per year. I buy those numbers, we’re emailing friends and family less frequently due to social and texting – but the business world is still heavily reliant on “traditional” email for both internal and external dialog. I would even buy a much steeper decline on consumer / personal than they illustrate and sharper increase on business.
So…let’s go back to my original question that prompted this and figure these odds out; let’s say 65% of email users have a business email account. I’m taking some liberties there and probably too generous, but unemployment rate plus service / retail jobs that don’t have business email addresses…that means 1.55 billion business email users (65% of 2.4B) and with 100 billion business emails per day; that equates to about 64 business emails per day per professional (lower than I would have guessed).
Now we have to start thinking internal business emails vs. external business emails and associated open rates of each etc.. This made my head hurt…but playing with numbers from my gut; I said 40% of these emails were external (e.g. knuckleheads like me) and we probably are in the industry average 25% open rate and 5% click thru rate (I’m equating a click-thru with a reply).
So this leads to roughly 26 external business emails per day; about 6-7 of those are opened per day, and 1.3 click-thru’s or replies…so with my 1 reply received; I guess I was the lucky winner that day and cracked the code to get the attention this individual had for that 1 of 1.3 external email correspondences he /she had that day with external emails…