Implications of Certified E-mail for Credit Unions

New technological developments aimed at minimizing fraud could potentially increase costs for e-mail and make it even more critical to follow best practices to ensure e-mail is delivered


As e-mail users and service providers adopt new technologies to reduce SPAM and fraud, credit unions will need to change the way they approach their e-mail campaigns.

As we noted in a previous article, e-mail can be a great way for credit unions to build relationships with their members. Credit unions are using e-mail to communicate with members in different ways, from account alerts to service updates and educational e-mails. However, the prevalence of SPAM and fraud will continue to impact how legitimate financial institutions can successfully communicate with members.

Certified E-mail Ensures Deliverability and Promotes Trust
With the widespread adoption of SPAM filters, deliverability is an issue that continues to plague e-mail senders. Both AOL and Yahoo made headlines when they announced that they would use GoodMail Systems’ Certified E-mail program to allow e-mail from certain senders to bypass filters. For a small fee per message, senders can have their messages appear in users’ inboxes marked with a special “certified” logo, and with images and links enabled. There is considerable controversy over this plan, as both consumers and businesses are concerned about fee-based deliverability and its impact on communication.

This plan could have a significant impact on financial institutions, considering the thousands of account alerts that are sent monthly. Even a low fee could result in significant costs. Last week, AOL announced that it would allow non-profit organizations to send Certified mail at no cost, with more details to follow in the next 2-3 months. Those details will be very important for credit unions to follow.

Moving forward, certified e-mail could become a “must-have” for credit unions. Once users become accustomed to seeing messages from large companies labeled as certified, they will expect the same from their credit union and assume that any communications without that label are fraudulent. Best practices with e-mail copy and HTML coding can help ensure delivery to the inbox without paying to be a Certified sender, but the only way to get the Certified label is to pay for it.

Steps to Take Now
If your credit union is already using e-mail to reach your members, there are several steps that you can take now to ensure that these messages continue to reach your members.

1) Know the composition of your e-mail list.
How many AOL and Yahoo e-mail addresses do you have? Make sure that you’re on AOL’s whitelist (details at Communicate with your SEGs to make sure they aren’t filtering your e-mails.

2) Clean your HTML code.
Poorly coded HTML is one of the quickest ways to get a message flagged as SPAM by filters – so don’t forget to validate your code against W3C standards ( If you use a third party e-mail provider, ask them for tips and suggestions to avoid filters.

3) Monitor the news for new developments.
As the industry moves forward with these initiatives, expect to hear more about standards and new steps that you can take to ensure that your members get your e-mails.

E-mail is still a great way for credit unions to build relationships with their members. To hear more about how credit unions are using e-mail effectively, check out the webinar “ Using E-mail to Strengthen the Member Relationship”.