In the Briefing Room: SenderOK

In the Briefing Room: SenderOK

We recently took a look at SenderOK, an e-mail sorting and management system.  SenderOK uses algorithms to sort e-mails according to a variety of criteria including how often the sender’s e-mail messages are answered, if the e-mail originates from a domain that the user has recently been to, and the recipient’s e-mail reading habits (i.e. deleting without reading or manual importance designation).  If a sender’s e-mail is always opened or answered by the recipient or others using SenderOK, then the system will place the e-mail in a folder for important messages.  Conversely, if the sender’s email is answered less frequently or often deleted without being opened, then it will be placed into the routine inbox.  E-business card information is presented as well for each e-mail, in a box located on the upper right of the Outlook inbox, in a style similar to xobni.

SenderOK also allows companies to insert logos onto e-mail that appears in the inbox.  For a monthly fee, a corporate logo will appear as the sender in the inbox, and the e-mail itself will be expedited to the inbox in an attempt to avoid the junk folder.  To qualify for the logo, companies will have to comply with the Sender Policy Framework (SPF) and DomainKeys Identified Mail (DKIM), which assure the recipient that the e-mail is from a reputable source.  Simply put, this aspect of the offering is designed to help senders stay out of the junk folder.  SenderOK believes that the presence of a logo will dramatically increase the likelihood that the e-mail will be opened, a premise we sincerely doubt.  In discussing this, my colleague Jonathan Spira suggested that replacing sender names with logos in the inbox may turn out to be as useful as third brake lights, which were found to be effective only when they were found on relatively few cars.  If most e-mail arrives with logos, it will, similar to the third brake light, just become part of the scenery.

SenderOK addresses two different areas: e-mail sorting and management on one hand and adding corporate logos to expedite e-mail delivery on the other.  However, we are a bit confused as to which direction SenderOK is focusing on.  The most important area of opportunity for SenderOK (in our opinion) is the ability to intelligently sort e-mail and reduce information overload in the inbox.  SenderOK shows promise in this respect, analyzing inbox behavior to determine the importance of e-mail and float the most critical to the top is a great idea, and SenderOK’s system seems to work rather well, albeit with limitations (it only analyzes behavior of others using SenderOK for example).  Solving that problem for the end user and bringing discipline to the inbox would address a huge pain point in the enterprise.  Unfortunately, SenderOK seems more focused on creating a corporate branding opportunity for e-mail rather than solving e-mail overload.

SenderOK also bills itself as a spam reduction mechanism, but we feel it falls short of the effectiveness of an appliance sitting on the edge of the network, such as IronPort.  In addition, we think this may be a short lived opportunity, once everyone else figures out how to get their branding onto email, then whatever advantage there was will be rendered moot.  SenderOK promises to keep “good” e-mail from being “spam-filtered” but “good” e-mail turns out to be a message coming from a company that is willing to pay the monthly fee.  The benefit to users in terms of managing one’s e-mail inbox and spam seems specious at best, a real pity because a tool that actually delivers on what SenderOK promises would be of great benefit.

Cody Burke is a senior analyst at Basex.

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