3 Bold Unpredictions for 2011

Posted by Matt Blumberg on

I don’t like making predictions. But my marketing people always make me. So I call them “Unpredictions” because I like predicting what won’t happen. This year I’m feeling particularly bold. Here are three things that many pundits have predicted, but that I’m pretty sure won’t happen.

Engagement data will not be the key to inbox placement. First off, it needs to be said that engagement was never the big deal everyone made it out to be. Enough experts say something is true and everyone believes it despite not a shred of public evidence. The truth is that it has some influence on inbox placement at some ISPs. Second off, what was true is that a few major email providers were testing the idea of using some forms of engagement data to determine inbox placement. Well, guess what? Some have found if valuable, some haven’t. In fact, we’ve heard from postmasters at one major ISP that the data was too much trouble for what it was worth. We look at data across nearly a thousand clients and across the millions of inboxes represented in our Reputation Data Network. Based on the order of blocking and filtering, global IP and domain reputation is still the most important driver of inbox placement. That isn’t to say engagement isn’t important – it’s a key measure that you should pay attention to if you want to move the needle on response. But it never was the key to getting your email in and my prediction is that it never will be.

“Do-not-track” legislation will not End Marketing As We Know It. This sounds bold but this is actually an easy prediction to make. Either this legislation will not pass, or it will be so watered-down that it won’t make much of a difference in terms of how marketing operates day-to-day. I don’t mean to sound blasé about this. The legislation as currently proposed is pretty awful and I agree with industry pundits who are working to squash it. I’m just convinced that it’s not going to pass as written. Or at all. Either way the impact will be very muted.

Facebook’s “UnEmail” will not kill Gmail. I actually don’t think the Facebook “messaging” system will change much of anything. I think it will continue to be what it is today – a cool way to interact with certain friends about certain kinds of topics within a confined space. It won’t replace email (that’s not the point) and it also won’t have a substantial impact on current email habits. Email will evolve – we’ve seen that with changes to the interfaces at Hotmail, Gmail and Yahoo! – and I see a slow change in habits happening over the next five to 10 years. But the current uses of email for business and commerce are going to continue for at least another 12 to 24 months. Anyone who thinks they can see any farther past the horizon than that is nuts.

What are your predictions, or “unpredictions,” for 2011? Leave a comment below with your ideas.


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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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