Four Unpredictions for 2012

Posted by Matt Blumberg on

I like to make what I call “unpredictions” – the things I think won’t happen in the coming year. (You can see my 2011 version here and the reckoning of the same here.)

Here are my four for 2012:

1. ISPs will not block messages to all users based on lack of engagement, but engagement will matter more than ever. This is a twist on my prediction from last year, but I’m going to be a bolder this year. I don’t think ISPs will ever block messages to every user based on low click and open rates. ISPs are very queasy about blocking messages that consumers might want. They have enough data to show that when a substantial percentage of users proactively hit “this is spam” on a message that it is unwanted by the majority of users. They don’t have the same confidence that low engagement by a portion (even a big portion) of users means all the rest don’t want that message. They aren’t even sure the unengaged subscribers want those messages blocked. But that doesn’t mean engagement doesn’t matter. It matters for a lot of other reasons, as I said last year, and I think will matter even more for marketing effectiveness in 2012.

2. Domain reputation will not be implemented in 2012, but planning for it will happen in earnest. Despite what most people have been saying about continued availability of IPv4 addresses they won’t actually run out until 2013 at the earliest. This means that ISPs will continue to use the IP reputation model for another couple years, but will use 2012 to plan and determine how to move to a domain reputation model.

3. Mobile will not be the dominant platform for reading email, but it will continue to steal share. To the surprise of many, our recent report on where email is read still shows that mobile devices are #3 after webmail and installed software on desktop computers. But the growth rate is high and climbing. The same report found the growth of mobile email views to be 34%. Expect continued growth of mobile in 2012 – with some of that growth being stolen from web and desktop viewing and some as a result of overall increased viewership of email.

4. Social networks will not become the dominant messaging platform, but they will drive more email use. Last year I predicted that Facebook would not kill Gmail and I was right. I’m going to go ahead and say that 2012 will not be the year that social networks become the dominant platform for messages. I’m not so sure it will ever happen, but it will be many more years off, at a minimum. Instead I think you will see the opposite in 2012 – the growth of social networks (which will definitely continue) will actually fuel the growth of email through notifications and the like.

What do you predict will or will not happen in 2012? Leave a comment to let us know.


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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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