Take-off & CSA Developments 

By now a key event in the email marketing calendar, the CSA Summit 2018 took place for the (5th) time on 18-20 April, in the impressive setting of The Aircraft, an event location designed along the theme of an aeroplane, under the motto of “Emails & More”. The theme of flying was maintained throughout the event, with Julia Janssen-Holldiek, Director of the Certified Senders Alliance (CSA), explaining that, similar to frequent flyer rewards programs, frequent emailers can be rewarded with improved deliverability – a faster, safer, and more comfortable trip to inbox land – if they take care of the technical and legal best practices advocated by the CSA; with “miles” in this sense equating to “knowledge” gained during the Summit, which delegates can redeem when they return home. Further to the knowledge exchange, the CSA Summit 2018 was designed to allow as much opportunity for business networking as possible for delegates. 


In keeping with the travel metaphor, the sponsors, who were each given a brief chance to introduce themselves, were categorized as Economy sponsors (dmarcian, emailsuccess, and postmastery), Business Class (MailerQ and port25), and First Class (250ok).

Janssen-Holldiek opened the event by welcoming delegates old and new, and providing an overview of the CSA’s activities and growth during 2017. The event itself this year played host to 19 different nationalities, up from the 12 nationalities in attendance in 2017 – a demonstration of the CSA’s increased activities in international communication and awareness-raising. 

Janssen-Holldiek explained that everything the CSA does is related to their mission (“We create and enable quality standards for commercial emailing”). Both legal requirements and technical best practices are merged in the CSA admission criteria, which are updated regularly. The challenge, as she sees it, is to push standards in the market. Certified senders voluntarily submit to standards, through which they get better deliverability. The main aim for the CSA in 2017 was to grow the network and increase the number of certified senders. 

In 2017 the CSA undertook 11 certifications of new senders and received 17 applications. During the year, the CSA received 250 requests for proposals, up from 163 the previous year – again signifying the awareness-raising work the team undertook in 2017. Janssen-Holldiek views the low conversion rate as a healthy situation – the CSA undertakes certification according to strict criteria, with a focus on quality standards, and there is no pressure exerted (for example, from shareholders) to compromise on quality to increase conversion.

In 2017, the team altered their processes for control of the CSA whitelist, implementing an automated compliance monitor which randomly checks newsletters of senders to replace the former manual process. The spamtrap alert service was also expanded in 2017, having gained more sources, and now spamtrap alerts are sent every 24 hours, to aid ESPs in their work with their customers. Communication of quality standards was also intensified, with the hiring of a new international agency to support activities in Spain, Italy, France, and Germany. The CSA website was also relaunched during the year, with lots of topics and a library of documentation, with everything available for download. Janssen-Holldiek called on delegates to let the CSA team know if there are any important topics missing which can be added during 2018. A further communication and educational initiative was the introduction of a new webinar, “GDPR for Email Senders” which companies can purchase in order to train whole teams, alongside webinars more tailored to the needs of the individual company.

In 2017 the eco Complaints Office continued its excellent work in dealing with end-user complaints, including complaints about spam. Janssen-Holldiek advised senders to view the Complaints Office work not as a source of difficulties, but as a form of legal consultation – to get a detailed analysis about what was wrong with an email and to get help becoming compliant with the forthcoming EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).

Julia Janssen-Holldiek finished by mentioning the partners of the Certified Senders Alliance: including eco, the DDV (German Dialog Marketing Association), the BVDW (German Federal Association of the Digital Industry), and the DMVÖ (Dialog Marketing Association of Austria). A recent addition is emailvendorselection.com – a partnership designed to support the business development of CSA-certified ESPs. ESPs can update their page on the portal, can be asked for an interview, and have the opportunity to publish a guest blog post. Another new collaboration is with the French association Signal Spam – the aim of the collaboration is, together with eco, to work more effectively in the fight against spam. In the new collaboration, a joint paper has recently been developed, specifically on how the French law will change as a result of the GDPR.