JavaScript making a comeback?

Both Goodmail and Google are beta testing rich content enabled platforms. Google’s Enhanced Email is limited to Gmail, whereas Goodmail’s CertifiedCommerce is designed to have broader ISP implementation and will be supported by AOL first.

Goodmail’s CertfiedCommerce is currently a JavaScript driven solution, but according to Goodmail is not limited to it. Though as yet unconfirmed, Gmail’s Enhanced Email would also appear to be largely driven by JavaScript. Used widely on the web, JavaScript allows you to dynamically assign content to a page, send information to a remote server, pop a window or add interactive content. ISPs are working hard to bring this functionally to the inbox.



Gal Chanoch, VP of Product Management at Goodmail, tells me CertifiedCommerce will enable recipients to make purchases - end to end - without leaving the inbox and in many cases without sharing information they don’t need to.

Rich interactive content, such as carousels are supported. As Roger Noia of Goodmail put it,“It’s actually as real as it can get, just like a regular web page, Javascript, JQuery, (used for the Javascript Carousel) etc, all running in the message”.

The subscriber can perform recipient specific routines, for example, adding an item to their wish list or paying a bill. Below are series of screenshots (courtesy of Goodmail), showing a bill pay without leaving the inbox.

Bill Pay Screenshot 1

Goodmail example Bill Pay screen 1

Bill Pay Screenshot 2

Goodmail example Bill Pay clicks 1

Bill Pay Screenshot 3

Goodmail example Bill Pay clicks 2

Bill Pay Screenshot 4

Goodmail example Bill Pay clicks 3

The two screenshots below courtesy of Goodmail feature a carousel, just like on the web you use the arrows to the left and right to navigate. One function of JavaScript is it’s ability to make personalized product recommendations on-the-fly.

Carousel screenshot 1

Goodmail example sidescroll

Carousel screenshot 2

Goodmail example sidescroll

Goodmail sent the bill pay demo to my AOL account, the JavaScript module did not slow down the loading of the message. There was no delay when clicking a link and the next screen showed instantly. There was a 1-2 sec wait on screen 3 while it processed the payment, comparable to what you’d experience online. CertifiedCommerce is at Alpha stage, Goodmail expects to launch later this year with AOL and possibly other ISPs.


Enhanced Email

Google have been testing Enhanced Email for a while, this Netflix example courtesy of Dan McGee, is from Sep09.

Netflix Enhanced Email example from Dan McGee

Dan writes, “A little Netflix logo showed up right in the inbox view, and when I clicked on it there was a whole fancy pane below the email containing movie recommendations I could add directly to my queue.”

Ramki Srinivasan, Manager of Email Innovation at Sears, told me they have sent out four Enhanced Emails. The content was generated from the RSS feed of Sears most popular products. Technically this RSS driven content could be displayed using either JavaScript or Flash, however embedded Flash content would require JavaScript support.

Check out a Sears example on the The Retail Email Blog. The enhanced module has seven tabs, containing 20 products. Although Sears did not test personalized product recommendations, Ramki told me it was available, as are recipient specific routines. Google is beta testing Enhanced Email, they’ve made no official announcement with regards to going commercial.



Julie Waite of Bronto asks, “My first question would be, how are clicks and page turns tracked in this special section?”

As the content is not generated at the time of send, Ramki told me you cannot use your ESP, instead you’ll need to integrate web analytics. Sears used Omniture, to track the links in the enhanced module. Gal Chanoch of Goodmail confirmed that email tracking will still do its job, but web analytics will be required to take it to the next level. He mentioned vendors like Ominture, Coremetrics and Unica as possible solutions.



One challenge is how fragmented rich email has become. We have HTML5 playing video on the iPhone and Apple Mail, YouTube in Gmail, Certified Flash video in AOL, embedded video in Outlook 2003, VideoGifs and now JavaScript under AOL and possibly Gmail.

Ramki told me he’d consider using Enhanced Email (Gmail) and CertifiedCommerce (AOL) simultaneously, for maximum coverage. From a production standpoint, creative targeted at different ISPs would increase costs. Chad White of the Retail Email Blog asks, “Will features like Enhanced Email ever cause marketers to advocate that their subscribers use one ISP over another? “. Are we going to see, “Best experienced in Gmail/AOL” on sign up forms.


Landing pages RIP?

Bronto, mentioned a reduction in website traffic/time on site as a possible downside. Gal told me, “I will say that Enhanced Email gives consumers more functionality that they need and want, which will lead to better engagement. Better engagement is a win/win not either or. Happy customers will buy more and will spend more time on landing pages.”



JavaScript is a security risk, and therefore not currently supported in the email environment. JavaScript can pop a window (or 20), launch an install, potentially steal your password or even plant a virus. For these reasons access will always be restricted. Gal Chanoch stated, “CertifiedCommerce™ product is an extension of the CertifiedEmail™ platform, a technology based solution that integrated the highest possible email security level with strict business practices. Only businesses that have been successfully accredited by Goodmail can become CertifiedCommerce senders.”

Goodmail inserts a Blue Trust Seal next to the subject line and in the security strip, so recipients know the message is secure and authentic.
CertifiedEmail Blue Trust Seal

Gmail have similarly been inserting favicons in the subject line, like this one from Netflix. (Image courtesy of TechCrunch).

Gmail favicon


I wonder whether existing subscribers, should be given the choice to opt-in to enhanced features? You can disable Enhanced Email within Gmail. Gal felt a better way to manage it would be via a preference center, “Also please keep in mind that in most cases (like product carousel) from end user perspective there is no difference between an image or sliding images unless they engage.”



I asked Gal what is the main difference between Goodmail’s CertifiedCommerce and Google’s Enhanced Email, “The CertifiedCommerce platform enables a secure solution for applications that are (but not limited) to JavaScripts. There is nothing that should prevent users from using Flash or other technologies. We have designed it in a way there is maximum flexibility for the senders and not a rigid system. Email senders will have a single and uniformed way of sending CertifiedCommerce across all supported ISP domains”.


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