2011 Unpredictions: The Reckoning

Posted by Matt Blumberg 

Every year I make a few “unpredictions” (the things I think won’t happen in the coming year) and I also reckon my prognostication from the previous year. Here were my unpredictions for 2011 and my assessment of how I did. Overall, 2011 was a pretty good year for my crystal ball:

1. Engagement data will not be the key to inbox placement.
The reckoning: Mostly true. Reputation, as measured primarily by complaints, unknown user rates and spam trap hits, is still the key to high inbox placement rates. Some ISPs experimented in 2011 with engagement as a way to determine inbox treatment – meaning, does the email go into, for example, Priority Inbox. Going back to 2010 we saw Hotmail implement individual-level filtering based on engagement, but this was intended to deliver messages that would otherwise be blocked, not the reverse. In 2011 we did not see any major ISPs begin wholesale blocking of messages based on low engagement rates.

2. “Do-not-track” legislation will not End Marketing As We Know It.
The reckoning: True — the FTC hasn’t endorsed anything as of yet, so it’s business as usual.

3. Facebook’s “UnEmail” will not kill Gmail.
The reckoning: True to the 11th power. In fact, my team looked at data from our Campaign Insight tool (which shows where email is opened) to confirm this one. We registered a whopping 0 opens in Facebook. Even Myspace mail (yes, you read that right – MySpace) had more opens that Facebook (but still a miniscule number with .01% total opens from all of our clients using Campaign Insight).

What did you predict would or would not happen in 2011? How’d you do?

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About Matt Blumberg

Matt Blumberg founded Return Path in 1999 because he believed the world needed email to work better. Matt is passionate about enhancing the online relationship between email subscribers and marketers so that both sides of the equation benefit. It is with great pride that he has watched this initial creation grow to a company of more than 400 employees with the market leading brand, innovative products, and the email industry’s most renowned experts. Before Return Path, Matt ran marketing, product management, and the internet group for MovieFone, Inc. (later acquired by AOL). Prior to that he served as an associate with private equity firm General Atlantic Partners and was a consultant with Mercer Management Consulting. He holds a B.A. from Princeton University. You can learn much more about Matt by reading his email marketing and entrepreneurship blog Only Once – one of the first CEO blogs on the Internet. Last year he wrote a book, Startup CEO: A Field Guide to Scaling Up Your Business.

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