How can marketers ensure their emails stand out in increasingly crowded inboxes for the right reasons and are trusted by their subscribers? Enter BIMI.
A whopping 320 billion emails are sent and received around the world each day, with spam accounting for a huge 85% of this figure. Given consumers are receiving so many emails on a daily basis – and this is unlikely to change given email is brands’ preferred and most used channel to engage with customers (72%) - standing out in overcrowded inboxes is a key challenge for marketers.
In addition to increased competition, ensuring your brand’s messages appear as authentic and trustworthy to recipients (i.e. not like spam) is another hurdle for marketers to overcome. Consumers are more likely to open and engage with messages they trust, with the DMA Consumer Email Tracker 2021 finding that “recognising the brand” is the most important factor in determining whether recipients will open an email, even more so than having the perfect subject line. This is understandable given phishing, spoofing and fraudulent emails are on the rise.
What is BIMI?
BIMI stands for Brand Indicators for Message Identification and is an email specification that enables the use of brand-controlled logos within supporting email clients. In practice, this means that senders’ logos are displayed in subscribers’ inboxes, allowing for instant brand recognition, which we know results in higher open rates.
BIMI has been around since 2019, however it generated a lot of attention in 2020 when Google launched a trial within Gmail. Owing to its success, Google announced in July 2021 that Gmail will be supporting BIMI technology permanently. Gmail joins Yahoo and Fastmail in BIMI support, making it available in roughly 2 billion inboxes. This increased adoption of BIMI presents a significant opportunity for senders to differentiate their messages in the inbox.
What are the benefits of BIMI?
Stand out in crowded inboxes. With BIMI adoption just starting to increase, implementing it is a great way to stand out in overcrowded inboxes and differentiate yourself from other senders. Marketers who act quickly can be some of the first to use BIMI in Gmail, giving them a true competitive advantage. This is more important than ever as a new report from Validity Inc. found email volumes are going to hit record highs this year.
BIMI can positively impact reputation. Increased recognition and trust lead to fewer unsubscribes and spam complaints, which in turn boosts sender reputation and deliverability.
For mailbox providers that support BIMI, it will add an extra layer of authenticity to your messages, improving the likelihood that your emails will be delivered.
Leverage your investment in DMARC. In order to be eligible for BIMI, first you need to implement a strict DMARC (Domain-based Message Authentication, Reporting and Conformance) policy. This has huge advantages for the security of your brand’s emails because it helps protect your company’s email domain from being used for email spoofing, phishing scams, and other cybercrimes. BIMI emphasizes and rewards your investment in DMARC by increasing your brand impressions in the inbox. It’s likely we’ll likely see smart senders educating their subscribers about this, with messages like “If you don’t see our official logo, don’t trust the email!”
How to get started with BIMI
The benefits of BIMI are far-reaching and while its usage is set to become much more widespread in light of Google’s recent announcement, early adopters stand to gain a significant competitive advantage. So, to implement BIMI, follow these steps.
- Implement and enforce a strong DMARC policy. DMARC is a stringent protocol used by email domains to determine what happens if an email fails the authentication test. BIMI requires that you have a DMARC policy of reject or 100% quarantine for emails that fail this test. If you’re already operating with this level of enforcement, you’re well on your way to successful BIMI implementation. If not, you need to strengthen your email authentication by setting up a DMARC record.
- Create a BIMI record. Once you have the proper DMARC policy in place, you’ll need to publish the BIMI record for your domain in the Domain Name System (DNS).
- Obtain a VMC (Verified Mark Certificate). Whilst not mandatory for all mailbox providers, Google requires brands to obtain a VMC to display their logo in Gmail inboxes. So, to take advantage of Gmail’s new BIMI support (and with 43% of the email market share, we assume you’ll want to), you’ll need to go through the vetting process with a Certified Authority (CA) which proves your right to use the image. Your logo needs to be a registered trademark, and this will be validated during the vetting process. Keep in mind that some mailbox providers support BIMI without a VMC, so if you choose to pass on this final step, there is still value in publishing a “self-asserted” BIMI record.
While the process for BIMI implementation isn’t simple, it is well and truly worth the investment. Those that get started now stand to benefit from an early adopter advantage, as well as the ongoing and significant benefits that BIMI offers.