Good News, Bad News: Reckonings of My 2009 Predictions

Posted by Matt Blumberg on

Matt Blumberg
By Matt Blumberg
CEO & Chairman

We’re at the end of another year and that means its time for reckonings. So lets look back at my 2009 good news, bad news predictions and see how I fared.

#1 Q1 will be tough but things will look up in Q2.
Thumbs down: Sadly, this conservative prediction was a little too optimistic. The recovery has taken longer to materialize than we had hoped with businesses in most sectors anticipating a recovery in Q1 2010. However, digital marketing did better than many sectors because it’s measurable and relatively inexpensive when compared to print and other channels.

#2 Email will prosper.
Thumbs up: Email did in fact prosper for the obvious reason: it’s a cost-effective channel that drives a high ROI. Email prospered for another reason. It is the engine the powers social networks so as social networks grew at astronomical rates with Facebook hitting 350 million users we saw a corresponding increase in email volume and usage.

#3 Marketers will over-use and abuse email to their detriment.
Thumbs (mostly) down: Actually deliverability was no better in 2009 but it wasn’t particularly worse. A lot of other things in the email universe did get worse but email deliverability wasn’t one of them. Still for marketers looking to extract every ounce of value from their email investment, giving up 20% or even just 5% on inbox placement rates due to complaints is pretty short sighted.

#4 Email laggards get on the bandwagon.
Thumbs (mostly) up: Email usage was way up due to social networks plus more businesses are turning to the channel in tough economic times. In fact one of the fastest growing segments investing in digital marketing (especially email) are small businesses.

#5 More email means more competition for consumer time and attention.
Thumbs up: More commercial email has resulted in marketers competing with quantity rather quality while engaging in bad practices. Too many marketers just send more email messages instead of more relevant email messages. Whether it’s out of ignorance or malice (I think it’s usually ignorance), we all the pay the price. Consumers get frustrated and marketers make less money. Still there are a lot of marketers working hard every day to send email that is valuable, interesting and respectful of their subscribers’ choices.

#6 Marketers will embrace mobile in 2009.
Thumbs (sort of) up: I’ve been making this prediction for years and while there wasn’t massive adoption in 2009, I do believe we have reached a tipping point. Marketers follow consumers and huge numbers of consumers using their mobile phones for everything from email to news and sports to Facebook and photos.

#7 Marketers will mess up mobile in the same way they messed up with email.
Thumbs neither up nor down: It’s too soon to tell, stay tuned for my 2010 predictions.

#8 2009 will be a good year.
Thumbs (sort of) up: 2009 wasn’t particularly good but it could have been a lot worse. As individuals we survived a wretched economy that is finally starting to look better. For our industry, it was actually pretty good. Business still gets done in the inbox because consumers want to hear from brands they love. Email consistently performs (thanks to all those consumers) so ever more marketers are adopting it. As we end another eventful year, email still reigns supreme as the most popular and widely used Internet technology ever.


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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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