As you might know, the German email landscape is special in several ways. For instance, three local email providers own about 75% of market shares for consumer email addresses. It’s not Hotmail, Gmail, Yahoo! Mail or AOL – but GMX, Web.de and T-Online. Second, the association of the German Internet Industry (eco, representing ISPs) and the Dialogue Marketing Association (DDV, representing bulk mailers) joined forces in 2005 to launch the so called Certified Senders Alliance (CSA, about) – a central bulk mailer whitelist.
Yesterday, Yahoo! Mail joined this trusted network project to improve email deliverability for accredited senders. Below, you’ll find some useful background information. It also helps to understand, why deliverability is perhaps not such a big problem in German B2C markets as it is in other regions…
What’s the German CSA, how does it work?
Basically, the CSA is a centrally managed email certification service and whitelist project. It’s a worldwide unique common accord between the marketing- and the internet industry which efficiently intermediates between bulk mailers and ISPs.
The service is free of charge for ISPs and technology partners like Cloudmark, which e.g. joined almost exactly two years ago. Participating email senders – mostly ESPs – on the other hand have to comply with strict admission criteria [PDF]. In addition, they got to pay a one-time registration fee plus monthly dues (price list, PDF). The biggest benefit for email senders is that server-side spam filters usually allow emails from accredited IPs to pass. No more false positives. Only individual filters regulated by the users block delivery.
The admission criteria for senders exceed standard legal requirements from the European Union. A supervisory board fastidiously monitors compliance. Therefore, board members – partially trained lawyers – gather and process manual spam complaints from users by running the central Internet Complaint Office in Germany and also by observing feedback loop results. Got more than 5 complaints from users without the ability to proof an opt-in (timestamp, ip, source), or a complaint rate of more than 1% or an increase in complaints of more than 50%? Say “bye bye” whitelist. On the other hand, the CSA-team actively offers senders workshops and useful backup concerning legal and technical questions for instance. They are doing a great job!
Good news: Yahoo! Mail joins the email whitelist
The eco’s Anti-Spam Taskforce always tried to get international ISPs on board. It’s really good news to hear that with Yahoo! Mail the first big US-ISP subscribed to the CSA white list, now. Although afaik accredited senders don’t benefit from a full whitelisting without any server spam filtering, they still get preferential treatment. For instance no email delivery from certified mass mailer IPs will be throttled. Normally, Yahoo! Mail allows mailers to send 20 emails per connection according to the WordToTheWise-Wiki. In addition, it may apply reputation based rate limiting. The omission of any rate limiting means a more timely delivery.
In the end, I guess it will be up to Yahoo! what they will do with the list of trustworthy IPs later on. Perhaps it will head in the direction of Return Path Certification – enabled images by default? For now, grab Return Path’s excellent “Field Guide to Yahoo! Inboxes” (for the German version visit the Inbox Insider-Blog) to read more on Yahoo! Mail deliverability. And let’s see, what the future holds.