Home > Global Matters, Life > 2009: How bad and how close did it get?

2009: How bad and how close did it get?

December 26, 2009 Leave a comment Go to comments

As we look back at what has undoubtedly been a tumultuous year for so many in the world, we will probably recall the major events of 2009.  The most memorable are probably the bookends: the inauguration of the Obama administration which brought hope to the world, and the emasculation of the Copenhagen talks which dashed it.    In addition to the usual and unnecessary bloodshed that man inflicts upon himself every year, 2009 also saw the emergence of  a new scourge: the H1N1 virus which albeit milder than feared continues to threaten the lives of those with compromised immunity.   The quasi-sovereign debt default in Dubai threatened to yank back major world economies that had just emerged from the depths of a major recession.  Yes,  we have enough reason to bid this past year a quick and unemotional goodbye.

But how close to you did the malaise of the past year get beyond depressing headlines?  It is possible that a few among us lost a job or a dear one to disease, but for most of us, 2009 has been a distant litany of unhealthy statistics.Unusually large number of bounces

As I do most years, just before the Christmas break, I sent out holiday wishes to friends, colleagues and business associates around the world.   This year, more than ever, my intention was to reach out and say “are you ok?” more than to convey yuletide greetings.  Over the years, my address book has grown and my needs are complicated enough that I use a commercial mailing service called MailChimp (this is a stellar service that I highly recommend for mass mailings).  It allows me to send out many different tailored campaigns and tracks their performance by recipient and content.

I flighted a few campaigns last week and the results are still trickling in.  But the data MailChimp provided me has been startling: nearly 20% of my emails are bouncing.   Adjusting for the normal levels of bad data in my contact book and movement in my networks, anything over 5% is a statistically significant increase in the number of people who were not available at the other end to receive my email.    Further, I got responses from a number of recipients  who were reachable at personal addresses like Gmail and Yahoo but who wrote back  saying they had been laid off in the past year or are otherwise underemployed.

I did not need the statistics to feel the pain of  many among my friends who have had a sub- optimal year but the raw data has personalized 2009 for me in a much more impactful way.   Here is to hoping 2010 gives back a all of what 2009 has taken away and more!

To end 0n an amusing note: as a social experiment, for the first time, I included a link to unsubscribe from my holiday mailings.   Interestingly, 0.5% of recipients have opted to not be wished by me during the holidays.   And a lot of people still have not seen my email so this could go up to 1%.   Most of them, have a valid reason.  In most cases they do not know me at all and should not have been on my list in the first place.   But a couple of them have been good friends in the past who would rather not hear from me.  C’est la vie as they say.

Happy holidays people !

(PS: sorry about the comments situation: they end up scattered across Facebook, LinkedIn and WordPress)

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Categories: Global Matters, Life
  1. Mohan Atreya
    December 26, 2009 at 10:14 pm

    Hey. I think this stat may be a little skewed. Especially the “Unopened” stat. Lots of people open emails these days on their iPhone or similar devices. These do not send back the same feedback.

    • Shyam Kamadolli
      December 26, 2009 at 10:20 pm

      Mohan: Absolutely – in fact I am not focused on the “opened” stat at all since many mobile reads including the ubiquitous blackberries do not register as opened. In fact there are quite a few out-office responses because of the holidays that do not count as opened either.

      I am focused more on the “bounced” number and the actual responses in my inbox from legitimate “opens” who are underemployed. I come up with 20% as an approximate percentage of my network impacted in some way. Crude but to me a significant stat. I will revisit these in late January to see if things changed once people are back at their desks.

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