What of the history of deliverability?

I don't really know who first coined the term deliverability. Was it me? Possibly not. It's a shame J.D. Falk isn't still around, because he would know, and then he would also mock me for thinking too much about it. And you know, it might have been he who coined it.

When I first started in a deliverability role, my title was actually "consumer privacy manager." That was in 2001. Later, when I switched companies in 2006, the term "deliverability" had already been out there and established for a few years, so I became a Director of Deliverability. Meaning that sometime between 2001 and 2006 is when I (and the email industry) started using the term deliverability. But when?

For fun, I decided to try to find the oldest mention of the word "deliverability" on my blog. That seems to be dated May 18, 2003, captured by the Internet Archive on June 18, 2003. (You can also find it on the current blog here; but the URL format changed when I moved to Blogger in 2006.) Assuming that this wasn't the first time I had ever used it in conversation, I apparently have been using the term deliverability since sometime around or before May, 2003.

If you're wondering about the history of spam filtering and deliverability as a practice, there's a few different things out there talking about it, but this high level overview from Lindsay Tjepkema from Emarsys is worth a read and easy to digest. Wikipedia even has this "History of Email Spam" article, which is both fun to read and helps to feed my ego (hey look, there's mention of me circa 1999).

We've come a long way. Back in 2000, if you were a big brand who sent enough unsolicited email to get noticed, you'd end up on the main big bad blocklist (MAPS and their RBL) and suddenly your bounce rates would spike sky high and deliverability rates would plummet. No inbox placement for you. Now? Spamhaus is still the big bad as far as blocklists goes, but there are a thousand more spam filters, some home grown by ISPs, some developed by third parties. A lot more places and ways where you need to monitor your sending reputation.

Deliverability is more complex. Email is more complex. Is that a good thing or a bad thing?

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