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2008 Predictions Review – Hit or Miss?

Every New Year’s I take the avalanche of information I gather from clients, business partners and  hundreds of articles and white papers I have read of the previous year and try to make some bold predictions for email marketers.  Like any modern soothsayer, my predictions are a medley of hits and misses, such as my accurate such as the call for more email marketing legislation in 2008, and complete flops such as my 2007 suggestion of wider adoption of RSS by email marketers.  More importantly, however, they are the basis for my predictions for the upcoming year (2009 will be posted next week).

2008 Prediction 1: The Death of the ISP White List (Hit and Miss)
While still in use, ISP white lists have been fairly marginalized as reputation-based systems have taken a much larger foothold for managing spam.  In fact, Gold Lasso hasn’t noticed a real deliverability difference between clients who follow best practices and do not participate in a formal white listing program, than clients with the same practices and do participate in one.  This might explain part of the reason there was a fire sale of Habeas to ReturnPath.  The only ISP white list that will continue as is in 2009 and that I know can guarantee 100% deliverability is GoodMail.

2008 Prediction 2: Email Rendering on Mobile Devices Will Be a Continued Issue (Hit)
Even with the advent of the second generation iPhone with improved HTML email rendering, designing for the mobile screen was a big challenge for email marketers in 2008.  With click rates in some cases exceeding open rates, mobile devices threw email marketers through the rendering loop forcing many of them to abandon open stats and to better segment their mobile subscribers.  

2008 Prediction 3:  Authentication Technology Will Become Mandatory (Miss)
Even though email authentication is mandatory for all members of the Direct Marketing Association, it’s still not being used by a large number of senders especially marketers that use in-house email marketing systems.  Based on discussions with clients and other industry veterans, I have concluded that many IT professionals still don’t know how to implement email authentication technologies let alone understand what they are for.   In addition to the lack of education, email authentication technologies still face an uphill battle as a result of a number of domain registrars preventing their customers from attaching the necessary text files to their DNS entries.  Overall, authentication is gaining ground but it still has a long way to go to make a difference in the war against spam.

2008 Prediction 4: More Legislation Might Be Around the Corner (Hit)

In June of 2008, the Federal Trade Commission tightened and clarified some of the language in the CAN SPAM Act to make it easier for consumers to opt-out of commercial email.  In addition, the FTC took another step toward making a clear distinction between commercial and transactional email.  While all these new clarifications are good, this poorly crafted legislation continues to fall short of its original intention of staving off spam.

2008 Prediction 5: Social Networking Sites Will Become the New Inbox Providers (Miss)

This prediction was bold and premature, yet I believe it will soon come to fruition and I’m sticking to it for 2009.  There’s no doubt social networking sites are chipping away at traditional personal email as Millennials, Gen Xers and Yers are adopting the medium as one of their main choices for personal communication.  However, if social networking wants to entice older generations, increase visiting times and eventually sell more ad space they will have to open their networks to include traditional email communication.  This day is coming and I’m banking on it!
 

Email Trends to Follow Into 2009
Gmail Themes - more potential rendering issues

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