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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.

16 comments

  1. Greg says

    As a Goodmail customer it will be interesting to see how the whole situation shakes out. Obviously right now there is this black hole right now, waiting to see how delivery functions when the CertifiedEmail goes away. Some feedback would be nice on when they anticipate this service will really drop off and what preferential treatment Yahoo will offer if any to Goodmail delivered emails.

    Thank you for digging into the situation as any insight is better than none.

    1. laura says

      Hi, Greg,

      Certification went away on Monday. I have a Y! account signed up to a Goodmail customer, and the Goodmail badge and headers are gone from that mail this week. So you can start measuring delivery changes now.

      For the record, in my test case the mail was delivered to the inbox with and without the Goodmail headers.

  2. Greg says

    Hi Laura,

    Thanks for your response.

    If you look at the image below you will see Goodmail is still signing the messages, and this was the case when I had lunch with their sales team yesterday.

    Thanks,
    greg

  3. Daniel Dreymann (Goodmail) says

    Laura: it’s disappointing that while I had offered to answer any question you might have, you neither asked me a single question, nor asked me to comment on your speculations. You received corroborating input from Yahoo and Goodmail, and yet chose to publish unsupported theories from unnamed people. Those interested in the complete story, and follow any updates, can find it at http://goodmail.typepad.com

  4. Anon says

    Actually, this article seems about right, Daniel. If you really want to get your side of the story out better, let’s start with your ongoing policy compliance efforts for Goodmail clients. I have seen nary a peep of this in any industry forums, public or private, and yet ReturnPath seems to be very active and involved on this front.

  5. Suresh Ramasubramanian says

    Me, I’m perfectly willing to outsource negative reputation to a few people (spamhaus say). Not all that ready to outsource positive reputation (whitelisting).

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  7. Robert says

    So, Daniel, Yahoo! just decided to drop your program because they felt like it? Why doesn’t Goodmail publishe who their clients are so we might see for ourselves. On your web site under “Who’s Sending Certified Email” you publishe just a hanful of carefully selected case studies. Same thing with your samples, publishing only those of major recognized brands. Somthing to hide, perhaps?

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