Interview, Julia Janssen-Holldiek : “Certified Senders Alliance is no longer a German project”

On January 11, 2016, Posted by , In Deliverability, With No Comments

logo-csaA few weeks ago, I’ve met Julia, Manager Business Development & ISP Relations at Certified Senders Alliance, in Paris to talk about the opportunities of CSA for emails senders in France.

Jonathan Loriaux – From the French point of view, the CSA is a foreign organization for which there is no French counterpart. Why and when did this project start?

Julia Janssen-Holldiek – The project was started 12 years ago by eco – Association of the Internet Industry and the DDV, the German Dialogue Marketing Association. The trigger was a missing standard for technical and legal quality criteria for email marketing.

JL – This project started as a collaboration between ISPs and ESPs?

JJH – That’s correct. The CSA was basically designed to act as an interface between email senders (ESPs) and receivers (ISPs) in order to ease communication between them. The creation of a standard was the obvious solution for that.

JL – Is there something like the CSA in France?

JJH – The CSA started as a German project, but has expanded its reach throughout Europe and even worldwide. We built a network with international ISP Partners and Technology Partners, which in turn attracted international email senders, also French senders. The CSA is not aware of a French organization which provides the kind of service the CSA provides.

JL -Does it make a big difference for advertisers to be certified or not? What is the real impact of certification for the Email Service Providers?

JJH – Let’s start with the overall benefits of CSA certification. It allows ESPs to increase deliverability as a result of our IP Whitelisting procedure, to ensure legal compliancy with European law and receive individual user complaint feedback from the eco complaint desk as an early warning system. Individual user complaints get forwarded to the sender, which helps him to maintain a high IP reputation. Moreover, they can use the CSA Logo as proof for quality sending when dealing with (potential) customers. CSA-Partner ISPs increase their spam filter functionalities and experience a relief of their complaint management desk.

The added value of CSA certification depends on the individual sender. If a sender already has a deliverability rate of 100%, they will, of course, have no increased deliverability rate with CSA Whitelisting. Perhaps, however, this sender is facing difficulties with and knowledge gaps in relation to legal compliance and can benefit from CSA’s support. Also, the CSA can help to maintain the high deliverability rate with the help of the eco complaint desk’s early warning system.

Experience shows that senders do not usually have a deliverability rate of 100%, but more around 83%. Therefore, the CSA can generally significantly improve deliverability. We have 37 international ISPs and Technology Partners who give CSA Whitelisted IPs preferential treatment over non-Whitelisted IPs.

JL – Does the complaint desk target solely ESPs?

JJH – No, the complaint desk receives all kind of user complaints, but the subsequent process is different. The CSA certifies the legal entity which technically sends the emails. In most cases, those are the ESPs themselves, but there are some brands which send emails from their own platform and want to get certified individually. If there is a user complaint about a certified legal entity, the complaint desk will request information from the sender, e.g. the optin, and initiate a detailed complaint process.

JL – If an advertiser is not certified, is it still possible to send an email to a German ISP? Or is it more complicated?

JJH – It is possible to have a high deliverability rate in Germany without being certified. I have experienced situations in which international ESPs want to expand their business into Germany, but are not yet familiar with legal requirements and ISP requirements. In this case, CSA certification is a major help. Even German senders who are familiar with all relevant requirements find that the Whitelisting procedure provides an additional boost in deliverability for them. Moreover, German brands understand the added value of CSA certification and include this as a requirement in their RFPs for ESPs.

JL – So one of the reasons to get certified would be existing deliverability issues?

JJH – This is the most common reason for getting certified, but there are other advantages of certification. The CSA prefers to work with senders in the long term and support them not only in building a good IP reputation but also in maintaining it. We provide a complete toolbox to do this as mentioned before.

JL – CSA is a German association and nowadays you have more than international than German ISP members. Is it a goal for you to expand worldwide or do you want to stay German first and then acquire some other members?

JJH – The CSA is a project of two German associations. We are still based in Cologne, Germany. However, we have acquired international ISPs and Technology Partners and therefore have already expanded worldwide. It is no longer a German project. I would like to quote an international CSA Partner ISP who reacted to a similar question when we were discussing differing regulations and laws. He said: ‘You know what? Email is global. Full stop’.

We share the same vision.

JL – Moving on to the current French brands. If they are not sending any emails to Germany or to Austria, should these major French ESPs consider getting CSA certified?

JJH – Again, email is global and therefore the answer is yes. It is very likely that French ESPs have customers who also plan to send to Germany or anywhere else in the world other than France. If they face problems with international ISPs, for example Cloudmark, Yahoo!, AOL, Yandex, then CSA certification becomes relevant from a deliverability perspective.

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