50/50 Hindsight: Predictions For 2021, And How They Mirror Those Of 2020

Last year at this time, we confidently predicted that there would be a vast increase in AMP and BIMI usage in 2020. 

It’s doubtful that any of this happened. Within weeks of that prophesy, the country was staggering under the weight of the pandemic and an economic downturn. 

What did occur was a mass switch to online shopping, requiring companies to tone up their tech stacks with email marketing software. 

Many of our standard pundits predicted that although they were wrong about the cause. And we're sure we followed their lead. With that in mind, let’s look at the boilerplate predictions of 2019 and see how they will impact 2021.  

The Ecommerce Surge — There’s no doubt that the surge happened -- a recent study shows that 19% of all shopping is now online, compared to  13% last year. And the trend is growing by staggering amounts. 

But it’s not clear what will happen next. Predictions will need to be based on assumptions that may not play out. Will the world be deemed safe from the virus by June, December, or in the year 2025? This will determine when people can carefully return to stores, movie theaters and ballparks. 



Martech Consolidation — This continued at a rapid pace in 2020. In the arena of email marketing, Validity acquired 250ok, following its 2018 purchase of Return Path. Terminus acquired GrowFlare and Ramble. And in the broader realm, Salesforce bought Slack in a $300 billion deal. This trend will continue, although it may be more difficult to negotiate while wearing face masks, or via Zoom.

What we haven’t seen — yet — is a wave of bankruptcies or closures in the email marketing vendor community, unless you include that of DatabaseUSA, which long predated the pandemic. Some firms may take on more venture capital if they can. 

AMP and BIMI — There were several developments during the year. On the downside, SparkPost recently reported that only .03% of firms have adopted BIMI (Brand Indicators for Message Identification), an email security standard that helps brands display a logo in their email subject lines.. But DigiCert and Valimail are partnering to move brands into it, and Google said it was beginning a long-awaited pilot. That means BIMI is being supported by two of the biggest North American free mailbox providers, according to Twilio’s Len Shneyder, with Yahoo first out of the gate.

Expect this creeping progress to continue. 

Then there is AMP (Accelerated Mobile Pages) for Email. Announced by Google in 2018, this provides a new level of interactivity. Consumers don’t have to move to a web page to order or take other actions — they can do this right from the email. But few firms have tried it, due to tight budgets and the pressures the pandemic has placed on staff. However, tools do exist to support dynamic email, and we still have high hopes for it. 

Compliance — The tough new California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) took effect on January 1. And in November, citizens of that state approved a ballot measure that went even further: The California Privacy Rights Act of 2020 (CPRA). It mandated several changes, including tougher protections regarding sensitive personal data and consent, while expanding the private right of action for data breaches.

Expect other states to enact similar rules, while the Biden administration may seek national legislation that brings us more in line with Europe’s GDPR. 

With that out of the way, let’s make a couple of personal resolutions for 2021. On the professional front, let's denounce and do what we can to fight the increasing wave of violence as well as the jailing of journalists around the world. This was a sorrowful and frightening year for anyone in this business on any level. 

And on a more positive note, let’s all try to remain safe. You don’t want to wear a mask? Remember the old Jiminy Cricket song:

I’m no fool, nosiree
I want to live to be 103
I play safe for you and me
‘Cause I’m no fool
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