Yahoo stops offering preferred delivery to Goodmail certified email
A week ago, Goodmail notified customers about upcoming changes to the Goodmail Certification program. They wanted customers to be aware that Yahoo was going to stop offering Goodmail certified email priority delivery and guaranteed inbox placement as of February first. I’ve talked with a number of people in the industry, including representatives of Goodmail and Yahoo about this change.
Yahoo was the first to respond to my request for a comment, and offered the following statements. The decision was made at some of the higher levels of management and my contact did not participate. I was told that Yahoo was looking to have more control over their incoming mail stream. They did not want to be contractually obligated to deliver email. The Yahoo rep also told me that Goodmail was in no way responsible for the Yahoo connectivity problems over the last couple weeks.
I also spoke with Goodmail. They also stated that Goodmail was in no way responsible for the Yahoo MTA problems. They are continuing to negotiate with Yahoo and are hoping to have full functionality to Goodmail certified email at Yahoo in the future. Also, Goodmail certified email may continue to see good delivery at Yahoo, but the certification symbol will not be displayed to Yahoo users.
I do believe Goodmail is continuing to negotiate with Yahoo, but I don’t expect to see any reversal of the decision any time soon. There are a number of underlying problems here, but reading between the lines it seems that Goodmail is certifying companies that send mail Yahoo users don’t want.
Last summer a number of people in the industry told me that Yahoo had a meeting with Goodmail and told Goodmail that the quality of the mail that they certified was not up to Yahoo’s standards. At that point, Goodmail dropped a number of clients and stopped taking on new clients. One colleague believed he had a slam-dunk application that would take days to approve. Instead he chased Goodmail sales reps for weeks looking for confirmation that his employer would be accepted. Eventually, he did receive a response: his employer was not accepted and there would be a full revamping of the qualifications for the certification program.
It seems, though, that any changes implemented by Goodmail over the summer did not improve the mail stream enough for Yahoo to continue outsourcing delivery decisions to Goodmail.
Quite frankly, I am unsurprised by this. My impression of Goodmail has always been they never really understood the role of a certifying agency. For any certifying agency to be successful, they must continually monitor certified customers and enforce standards. Goodmail’s initial certification process was fine, but they never seemed to follow through on the monitoring and enforcement. I remember sitting at lunch with one of their founders a few years ago and repeatedly asking the same questions: How are you going to police your customers? What are you going to do when bad mailers come to you? How are you going to enforce your standards? The answers I received were vague and left me with the opinion that they didn’t really understand what spammers would do, or pay, to get guaranteed inbox placement. I never felt they recognized the work involved in enforcing the high standards needed to keep their ISP partners happy with their service.
What distinguishes Goodmail from other certification services is that Goodmail doesn’t make recommendations to recipient ISPs. Instead, Goodmail partner ISPs are contractually required to accept Goodmail certified email and deliver that to the ISP. In this case, it appears the certified mail did not meet Yahoo’s standards, and Yahoo ended the contract. I don’t expect Yahoo to change their stance until Goodmail can convince Yahoo that Goodmail will treat Yahoo users email stream exactly the same as Yahoo does.