Category Archives: B2B Marketing

How Hard Is It To Get Cold Email Replies? Chasing the odds and cracking the code…

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…



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Top organic listing on Google gets just 8.9% of clicks…

Pretty thought-provoking article and “infographic” here on google SEO vs. PPC trends; some highlights from my POV:

  • Top organic listing on Google gets 8.9% of clicks on page; 8.9% is still huge; but tells you how much the paid ads are getting overall – nearly 42% of all clicks go to first 3 paid listings.
  • Interesting how “pixel dominance” of paid ads is impacting click rates.
  • 89% of paid ad search traffic is “new” traffic that is outside organic reach.


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June PMI & Beyond: Does The Past Predict The Future?

The Institute for Supply Management’s PMI index reading for May 2011 of 53.5 surprised most analysts, even the pessimistic ones. The general consensus was for a slight downward move from April’s reading of 60.4 to 58. Even the worst of the pessimists only had it bottoming out around 55.

So using history, what does the 53.5 likely mean for June and beyond?

  • The 53.5 reading in May 2011 is the lowest reading of PMI since September 2009
  • The PMI dropped 12.9% from April (60.4) to May (53.5); the 12.9% drop is the biggest percentage drop in PMI in more than 7 years. 
  • The September-October drop in 2008 is the next highest in the past 7 years at 12.3%. I simply stopped looking after 7 years so it might be even farther back (PMI tables are easy to find online if you want to do the exercise yourself).
  • The PMI has dropped 14.4% for the March to May 3-month timeframe. A drop in general is not unusual per se as in the past 6 years (excluding 2011) there has been a tendency of the PMI to decline from March to April in 4 of the past 6 years (a bit of pre-summer correcting perhaps?) but the average decline (excluding 2011) for those 4 years is an average of 3.5% in PMI vs. the 14.4% we’ve seen this year. Thus, 2011 is a 4x steeper decline than we’ve historically seen for this time period. This is a huge drop and beyond typical correction.
  • In the years with declining March to May PMI (those 4 of last 6); 2 of the 4 shrunk again further thru June at an average further decline of 3%; whereas the other two increased only slightly vs. May @ 0.4% and 2.6%, but still stayed below March levels. In short, based on historical performance – it wouldn’t be unreasonable to expect June’s PMI (released July 1) to potentially drop again or only modestly tick up…this certainly explains manufacturing supplier hesitancy or uncertainty.
  • If the index drops below 50; expect the dreaded R word to be in rampant use in media…50 or above means growth, below 50 means contraction.

The following article from Industrial Distribution is an interview with the Bradley Holcumb (I list him by his initials – BH) – he is the chair of the ISM (organization behind the PMI) and he speaks to the data in the May report and what it means to those in the manufacturing industry, and whether the decreasing growth should raise concern among manufacturers.

 To me, his comments suggest that most of the market place for manufacturers are exercising a less than optimistic wait and see attitude.

Key excerpts:

ID: It looks like the growth was a little bit slower this month. Is this an indication of an overall lessening of the recovery, or should we be expecting a ‘peaks and valleys’ type situation?

BH: 53.5 as a PMI is clearly off 6.9 points, but it’s still in the growth category, it’s just growing slower. The things that are primarily impacting the PMI are the softening of growth in new orders and production, which are both off around 10 points. But we have to keep in mind that in January, Feb, March, April, all of these important primary metrics were in the 60s, which is really strong. Companies are taking their foot off the accelerator a bit for the month of May. There’s a little bit of a cautionary note, and a little bit of a wait and see.

ID: Are there any other major takeaways for manufacturers and distributors?

BH: I guess our overall sentiment here is continuing growth and cautious optimism, going forward over the next few months. We’re seeing some declines in these metrics for the first time this year, but it’s only one data point. Let’s not get ahead of ourselves; let’s wait until next month before we read too much into this.

Full Interview:

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Word Association: To Push or To Pull

It can be a real challenge for a marketer to successfully market online a product or service or solution that hasn’t previously existed before or that nobody knows even exists today. Perhaps you’ve created an innovative new product or taken advantage of an emerging technology or perhaps you’re solving a niche problem for a specialized marketplace through a unique application…how do you get that exciting news into the appropriate hands when people may not be searching for that kind of news or solution – I mean how would they know to search for it let alone how to search for it?

Rather than trying to directly market to a specific type of search, interest or “query” that may not exist yet – you might be more effective simply marketing to the right audience and creating the interest with them to begin with.

This type of campaign is often referred to as “push” marketing as you are attempting to push your message in front of your target market to create interest and demand. The opposite of “push” marketing would be pull marketing – where you are trying to market to someone already looking for a solution, and attempting to pull them towards you as a vendor of choice.

Push marketing messages often have a bit of an education or awareness angle, although they certainly aren’t limited to just this approach. This education can take shape in numerous ways that provide value to potential customers: 

  • Whitepapers
  • Press Clippings (Articles) / PR
  • PDF data sheets or catalog downloads
  • Case Studies or Application Notes
  • Online videos or Webinars
  • Email newsletters
  • Blog postings / Social media commentary

Other online marketing vehicles (like paid search or search optimization) can be creatively employed as well; but take some thought to effectively utilize well in new market / application scenarios.

To promote the availability and accessibility of this kind of news and information; you should give consideration to a combination of E-newsletter campaigns, broadcast banner advertising to a wide, but targeted audience, and direct email campaigns to your target market. Social media is of course another method to use.

To determine whether you should be using “push” media – give some thought to the words you are using (even internally in your own marketing meetings) when describing your “new” product, service or solution and the market you are trying to reach.

For example –

Product Attributes: If you are describing the product, service or solution using words like the below – you should consider “push marketing”: 

  • New
  • Cutting Edge
  • Emerging
  • Innovative
  • Replacement (e.g. it’s the “new”)
  • Alternative
  • Substitution
  • Equivalent
  • Comparative / Compare To
  • Advanced
  • Creative
  • Unique
  • Special

Target Market: If you are describing the target market (e.g. potential customers) using adjectives like the below – you should consider “push” marketing:

  • Niche
  • Special
  • Unique
  • Focused

Marketing Approach: If you are discussing or describing the possible marketing approach or vehicles you plan on using with the following terms – you should consider “push” marketing:

  • Educate / Teach
  • Introduce
  • Inform
  • Create Interest
  • Stimulate
  • Awareness
  • Roll-Out
  • Learn

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November Institute for Supply Management’s PMI – Return to Stability?

The Institute for Supply Management’s PMI for November notched down a modest 0.3 points when compared to October’s index but remained in growth territory at 56.6. A reading above 50.0 indicates the sector is expanding, while a reading below 50.0 indicates it is contracting. Expectations called for a 56.5 reading; so the modest change from October and the lack of disparity between analyst expectations and actual results is a bit of a ‘relief” from the uncertainty and larger index swings that occurred from May through September per the summary below:

Month Actual PMI % Change From Prior Expected PMI Diff. From Expected
Nov-10 56.6 -0.53% 56.5 0.1
Oct-10 56.9 4.60% 54 2.9
Sep-10 54.4** -3.37% 54.8 – 55.1 -0.4 to -0.7
Aug-10 56.3 1.44% 52.9 3.4
Jul-10 55.5 -1.25% 54.2 1.3
Jun-10 56.2 -5.86% 59 0.2
May-10 59.7 -1.16% 59.4 0.3
**September PMI marks lowest index reading in 2010

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Staggering YouTube Statistics

A bit of a short post here; but I happened across the Wikipedia entry for YouTube and I thought it was odd it didn’t mention the total number of videos on the site itself; so I set about on a mission to determine how many were currently hosted – only to trip across some additional metrics along the way that I wanted to share:

YouTube does not publicly disclose how many videos are hosted – but they used to:

As of March of 2008; they had 78.3 Million videos on site(1); a month later they were claming over 80 Million (2), that was over 2 years ago. Using that data, an enterprising individual estimated that as of August 2010 that the current number of hosted videos floats between 141 and 144 Million (due to takedowns etc.) on a daily basis – staggering!! (2)

The average video has been estimated to be between 2.4 and 2.7 minutes long (1,3).

Based on the # of videos and length of these videos; it would take close to 800 years to watch them all (assuming viewing one at a time in sequence)…of course that assumes no new videos get added. The truth is 20-24 HOURS of NEW video are added every 1 MINUTE – that’s the equivalent of 150,000 full length feature films every week (4).

According to their wikipedia entry (5); YouTube was serving more than two billion videos a day, which it described as “nearly double the prime-time audience of all three major US television networks combined.” (5)






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August Manufacturing Index Report Summaries – What’s Real?

  The August reports on manufacturing activity regionally, nationally and around the world generally indicate that manufacturing activity remains on the recovery side of the center line; albeit in some cases at the slowest pace in almost a year.

National PMI Report:
The Institute for Supply Management’s PMI for August rose slightly when compared to July; the August PMI registered 56.3%, an increase of 0.8% when compared to July’s reading of 55.5%. This reading surprised most analysts as the consensus view was calling for a significant drop into the 52-53% range. A reading above 50 percent indicates the manufacturing economy is generally in a period of expansion while a reading below 50 indicates a general contraction of the industry. The disparity between analyst forecasts and actual results serves as a bit of a reinforcement to the overall uncertainty in predicting the longer term performance of the manufacturing market sector.

Major Regional Reports:
The Philadelphia Federal Reserve Business Outlook Survey (regional snapshot of manufacturing within the Philadelphia, New Jersey and Delaware area) is released a week in advance of the National PMI. When the index is above 0 it indicates factory-sector growth, and when below 0 it indicates contraction. The survey index dropped to -7.7 in August; marking the first time the index has been in negative territory since July 2009.

The Chicago Purchasing Manager’s Index (PMI) hit 56.7% for August, the lowest mark for this index in 2010; the index was 62.3% in July. A PMI report reading of 50% marks the breakeven line between an expanding and contracting manufacturing sector. This report is released 1-day prior to the national PMI and has a historical 91% correlation with the national ISM; leading most analysts to predict similar trends in the National ISM as reported in the Chicago index; which wasn’t the case in August; once again reinforcing the uncertainty of the marketplace as a whole.

The Empire State Manufacturing Survey (covering New York) reported that new orders and shipment indexes both dipped below zero for the first time in more than a year, indicating that orders and shipments declined on balance; the unfilled orders index (backorders) was also negative and the six-month outlook also weakened. This report is issued at the beginning of the calendar month; and is an indication of future sentiment.

Major International Reports:
European Manufacturing slowed to the slowest rate of expansion in seven months with an index reading of 55.1; a reading above 50 percent indicates the manufacturing economy is generally in a period of expansion while a reading below 50 indicates a general contraction of the industry.

China was the lone exception among the major indices to show bigger growth as the China PMI rose to a three-month high of 51.9 in August from 49.4 in July.

The reports, when taken as a whole, indicate at best a continued slow recovery with caution, or at worst, that recovery could stall completely with a return to recession if the National PMI begins to mirror the regional reports.

 Analyst Commentary:

Thomas Simons, economist at Jefferies & Co:
“The strength in this month’s (National PMI) report contrasts with the weakness in nearly every regional manufacturing survey, which makes it difficult to make inferences on the sector going forward…the data today is confusing” – (September 2010 in response to National PMI Report)

Tony Crescenzi, a portfolio manager at PIMCO: “The ISM index is somewhat difficult to reconcile against the regional manufacturing surveys as well as other recent data.” (September 2010)

Ian Shepherdson, economist with High Frequency Economics:
 “We do not expect a double-dip recession, but we do think the ISM (manufacturing index) has further to fall; enjoy this while it lasts.”- (September 2010 in response to National PMI Report)

Zach Pandl, economist at Nomura Securities International Inc. in New York: “The report makes clear the economy is not slipping into recession any time but still reasonable to be concerned about where we’re heading over the next three to six  months.” – (September 2010 in response to the National PMI Report)

Tom Porcelli, a senior economist at RBC Capital Markets Corp. in New York: “Manufacturing has completely passed its peak – the once-strong pillar of growth is starting to fade,” – (August 2010 in response to Chicago PMI)

Howard Archer, chief U.K. and European economist at IHS Global Insight: “…the August purchasing managers’ survey is nevertheless disappointing and reinforces suspicion that the first half of the year was as good as it gets for manufacturers” – (August 2010, in response to European Manufacturers Index)   

Despite the positive national index news for August; there remains no overall consensus conversion to optimism amongst analysts; primarily due to the dramatically contradicting regional reports.

It is perceived that the national PMI is perhaps more reflective of large manufacturers while the regional reports provide a more accurate reflection of the small-to medium manufacturer.

The dichotomy of the indices is leading most to continue to view the market as “uncertain”, “unpredictable” and likely to stall in the short term unless the new order sub-indice steps up in the upcoming months.

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