Goodmail made a splash on the email marketing and ISP industries a few years ago by announcing their CertifiedEmail program. They guaranteed that using their certification would result in email going directly to the inbox, and all images in the email would be displayed by default. Senders using Goodmail would pay money, per message, and Goodmail would split that money with the receiving ISP.
This sounds very much like a situation where everyone wins. The senders get their mail to the inbox with images turned on. The receiving ISPs get a little money to deliver email and offloads some of their sender screening onto a third party. Individual recipients know that this email is certified and that it’s safe to click on links in the email.
In the time since CertifiedEmail has been announced, however, there seems to be very little adoption. Sure, receivers do seem to be signing up, a little. AOL and Yahoo have been using CertifiedEmail for a while. In summer 2007, a number of cable providers announced they would be using CertifiedEmail as well.
Senders, on the other hand, don’t seem to be adopting this as fast as Goodmail might like. The Federal Government recently announced they would be sending email signed by Goodmail and some large online companies, Overstock.com among them, are also sending with certified email. In order to get more companies to sign up for CertifiedEmail, Goodmail announced in August 2007 that they had partnered with CheetahMail, Episilon and Axciom Digital to provide free CertifiedEmail to qualifying customers of those ESPs.
Why might companies not be adopting CertifiedEmail? I have a couple of thoughts.
- First, the end recipient isn’t clamoring for it. In fact there is little recognition from the end users that CertifiedEmail is certified and safe to click.
- Second, from talking with companies using CertifiedEmail deployment has, at least in the past, been problematic. Both sending and receiving companies need to make MTA changes to use CertifiedEmail. There were also rumors of early problems with volume and slow sends.
- Third, many companies don’t need to use CertifiedEmail. In fact, if a sender is conforming to best practices their email should be delivered to the Inbox and have images turned on. The one caveat is that there may be a market for certification of mail from places like the federal government and financial institutions.
Those are the technical reasons companies may not be adopting CertifiedEmail. But there are always non-technical reasons that contribute to the adoption of new technologies. Looking at the changes at Goodmail over the last 4 months: giving product away for free through the end of 2008, losing a CEO in July, losing his replacement in September these are not signs of a healthy company.
Change can often be good, but so much change for a company attempting to create a market for themselves does not encourage potential customers to take a risk and buy their services.