An Email Retrospective

By Melinda Plemel
Senior Receiver Relationship Manager

We’re pleased to present a special report on the top ten email trends in 2009 based on our experiences working with top marketers and the world’s leading ISPs. We hope this look back will help you look forward and make 2010 the best year yet for email.

The Top 10 Emails Trends in 2009 include:

1. Spam growth continues
– Estimated daily spam volumes for 2009 were more than 117 billion emails per day. In addition, image spam increased in 2009, a problem for enterprises and ISPs using outdated email security software.

2. False positives increase – 2009 also saw a rise in “false positives”. This is when a legitimate, requested, and wanted email is mistakenly blocked outright or delivered to a bulk folder by a spam filter. ISPs increased their use of trusted whitelists in an effort to more accurately identify legitimate email and prevent false positives.

3. Phishing impacts everyone – Criminal enterprises phished even more 2009 – sending forged emails purporting to be from banks, social networks, and brand marketers to gain access to account information. Return Path recommends authenticating your email as a way to combat phishing.

4. Rise of the Social Inbox – In 2009 Facebook hit 350 million users and we saw communications from social networks become more entwined with traditional email. A beta version of Outlook 2010 integrates social networking, and MySpace announced an integration of email with the MySpace social network experience.

5. Complaint Rate Feedback Loops Gain Greater Prominence – Complaint rates, when an email is marked as spam, continued to be key reputation metric for email senders in 2009.

6. More transparency at ISPs – More ISPs are offering “postmaster pages” to improve transparency and provide better information about email delivery into their network. In 2009, new postmaster pages were released by AOL, Cox Communications (North America), and T-online (Germany).

7. Mergers & Acquisitions – In 2009, many ISPs in North American and Europe were acquired or merged with other ISPs. These mergers are important to marketers as new ISPs have their own metrics and tools for determining legitimate email from spam.

8. Gmail Continues Its Growth – In 2009, Gmail surpassed AOL and became the third most popular Web-based email application behind Yahoo! and Microsoft.

9. Outbound Abuse On the Rise – In Return Path’s discussions with ISPs in 2009, they reported challenges with abusive email sent from their own networks via compromised accounts, reputation hijacking, and botnet infections.

10. Email did not Die!
– Despite the many headlines in both the mainstream media and blogosphere, email’s demise was greatly exaggerated.

The Return Path Top 10 Email Trends in 2009 complete report is available for download here.

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