This means that every message sent through Goodmail has a little tag which identifies it as "certified" and it then goes through whatever spam filters the participating ISPs use.
Email senders have to go through an approval system, which costs $399 ($199 before 31 July 2006). Although I couldn't find it on the Goodmail website, I believe that email senders are charged 0.2 to 0.4 cents per email, depending on volume. Oh, and your business has to be based in the USA or Canada to be a Goodmail certified sender.
So what does this really mean to us? Certainly, the media have hyped it up. "AOL to charge fee as way to cut spam" was the USA Today headline. Total rubbish! It will not impact on spam at all, and Goodmail don't claim this.
And it's entirely optional. If you decide not to join the Goodmail system, nothing will change at all. Your chances of getting emails through to AOL and Yahoo! mail boxes (which account for about 50% of consumer mail boxes) will be just as good (or bad!) as they have always been.
Is Goodmail the thin end of the wedge? Won't it be just a matter of time before we all have to pay to send email? Maybe. But I doubt it. Goodmail aren't the first providers of such a system. Habeus and BondedSender have been around for much longer. And they haven't made much impact.
My advice to you? Don't panic!
(From my Marketing Magic "News Update" newsletter)