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Spam and social media top the year’s email trends

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The top 10 email trends in 2009 included the on-going rise in spam and phishing and the emergence of the social media inbox, the Top Email Trends in 2009 report from Return Path reports:

  1. Spam growth continues — Reports in early 2009 estimated spam volumes at more than 117 billion emails every day. In addition, image spam increased in 2009, which is a problem for enterprises and ISPs using outdated email security software.
  2. False positives increase — False positives are when a legitimate, requested, and wanted email is mistakenly blocked outright or delivered to a bulk folder by a spam filter. Receivers increased their use of trusted whitelists in an effort to identify legitimate email.
  3. Phishing impacts everyone — Criminal enterprises increased their phishing in 2009, sending forged emails from banks, social networks and brand marketers to gain account access. Return Path believes that a coordinated effort, including government (policy and enforcement), education, infrastructure operators, financial institutions, and more must participate in coordinated efforts toward a solution.
  4. Rise of the social inbox — Communications from social networks are becoming 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 a key reputation metric for email senders in 2009. Via feedback loops, commercial senders can monitor, in real time, when users report their emails as spam.
  6. More transparency at ISPs — Most ISPs are providing “postmaster pages” to improve transparency and provide key information about email delivery into their network. In 2009, new postmaster pages were released by AOL, Cox Communications in the US and T-online in Germany.
  7. Mergers and acquisitions — In 2009, many ISPs in the US 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 — Gmail surpassed AOL in 2009 to become 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, the ISPs 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. Email marketing continues to have the highest ROI of all direct marketing channels, including search. And, a recent survey found that college students aged 18 to 24 would give up watching TV, social networking, and talking on the phone before giving up email.

“Return Path is dedicated to ensuring that consumers receive the emails they want to receive and offering ISPs the tools and knowledge to identify legitimate, permissioned email,” says George Bilbrey, president of Return Path. “With our extensive knowledge of the email industry, we feel it’s important and valuable to learn from the past to foresee where the industry is headed in 2010. By understanding the industry trends in 2009, marketers can work to improve their email programs in 2010.”

Readers can download a copy of the full report from Return Path’s website.

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