Goodmail, Part 2

What a week for e-mail! First, the discussions surrounding the Goodmail/AOL announcement had barely settled when it was announced that DoubleClick's e-mail division has just been acquired by Epsilon Interactive, which was formed when Alliance Data picked up BigFoot Interactive last year. At $90M, the price tag is around 10 times EBITDA.

This week I also interviewed Richard Gingras, CEO of Goodmail, about his company's joint announcement with AOL and what it means for the industry. Gingras describes himself as a product guy--so being thrown into a fire storm of controversy is not a role he is accustomed to. From his standpoint, all Goodmail is trying to do is bring back reliable delivery and consumer trust.

The reason he believes forms of white listing have failed is because they lack a stringent form of certification of the sender. It is more than just a stamp that quarantines delivery. Each company that wants to be certified must pass a series of tests and requirements. For instance, they must have been in business at least a year, while their credit rating is checked and their past e-mail history is explored. Gingras estimates that the certification process will cost about $200 and take up to a week.



A Goodmail certified e-mail will stand out from other e-mails in the inbox, as Goodmail sets itself up as the consumers' Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval: a certified e-mail will have a special Goodmail border and icon associated with it. HTML in the e-mail will render even if the service would normally block HTML from rendering in non-certified e-mail by default. That feature alone might be worth the price of the stamp from some advertising-sponsored e-mail newsletters.

The big question for everyone is whether the added cost will equal added ROI for the marketer. According to Gingras, Goodmail did a study that shows that two-thirds of the public would open a certified e-mail, while only 10 percent would open an uncertified e-mail. Goodmail estimates that, because of the increased open rate and the added trust that is implied by a certified e-mail, marketers should realize a 3000% increased return on their investment.

Of course there is only one way of finding out if this is true. We can expect a wait-and-see attitude from most marketers as they monitor Goodmail's success or lack of it.

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