Goodmail Rejecting Three Quarters of Applicants

(Magilla Marketing) Goodmail has rejected more than three quarters of the companies that have applied for its Certified Email program, according to the company’s chief executive, Richard Gingras.

Gingras said most of the rejections are because the applicants’ spam-complaint rates are too high. He declined to specify what constitutes too high a complaint rate.

“Our criteria are very rigorous and the fact of the matter is that a lot of folks out there just don’t qualify,” he said. “Most senders say they’re on AOL’s enhanced whitelist and they’re not.”

AOL maintains two so-called whitelists of senders that meet certain unpublished good-behavior criteria such as low spam complaint rates, and as a result, reportedly have an easier time getting their e-mail delivered intact. The enhanced whitelist is the stricter of the two.

AOL announced in January that it was adopting Goodmail’s system under which bulk e-mailers can pay to have their e-mail certified as non-spam and guaranteed to be delivered with a seal of approval into AOL’s inboxes with graphics and links intact.

Among the applicants are “very well known companies that have brands they want to protect—from the media space, to the financial services space, to the retailing space,” said Gingras. The New York Times has had its newsletter certified, he added.

AOL’s announcement brought a firestorm of criticism, including a recent blast from liberal activist group Moveon.org and several other non-profits, including conservative group RightMarch.org.

The groups contend that AOL’s plan will create a two-tiered e-mail system in which organizations that pay get preferential treatment.

In response, AOL announced Friday that it will guarantee e-mail delivery with graphics and links intact free to non-profits that abide by AOL’s anti-spam policies. The company also said it will pay the sign-up costs for non-profits to have their e-mail authenticated.

Gingras said that as a result of the national controversy over AOL’s adoption of Goodmail’s service, the number of applicants has been as much as 10 times as high as he anticipated.

“There’s no question that this level of awareness has drawn a tremendous amount of interest,” he said. “Given the strict standards that we have for qualification, most [Certified Email applicants] won’t qualify. A lot of these are prospect marketers and we don’t support prospect marketing.”

Goodmail will put its stamp of approval only on e-mail to applicants’ existing customers or existing members of the applicants’ organizations, said Gingras.

Goodmail will also reject applicants if they’ve been in business less than a year, said Gingras.

John Rizzi, the chief executive of e-mail service provider e-Dialog, said one reason for Goodmail’s high rejection rate may be that e-mailers with the most questionable marketing practices are lining up first.

Rizzi said that three quarters of his clients surveyed after an e-Dialog Webinar addressing AOL-Goodmail said they were “taking a wait-and-see approach” to the scheme.

“We don’t know enough facts yet,” said Rizzi. “We don’t know the hard price of this program. There’s been a disappointingly incomplete story told by AOL and Goodmail so far.”

Gingras has pegged the price at 0.25 cents per e-mail, but has also said the price could change.

E-Dialog’s Rizzi contends that although the jury is still out on Goodmail’s service, 0.25 cents per e-mail is negligible.

Assuming 0.25 cents is the cost, an average mailer that mails twice per month will pay 6 cents a year per address, said Rizzi.

“That’s 6 freakin’ cents,” said Rizzi. “If you break it down per recipient, it’s nothing. I think anybody who looks at that and says, ‘hmmm, my customer isn’t worth 6 cents to me,’ ought to look in the mirror and see a spammer looking back.”

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