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BIMI – A modern approach to Brand Recognition in the Inbox

Getting recognized has its advantages and disadvantages. For a celebrity, it means the inability to enjoy a personal moment without the barrage of fans and paparazzi, thirsty for a photograph. For a brand, it is a ‘foot in the door’ opportunity to engage with their customers as well as prospects. For an email marketer, it comes by sending highly engaging and relevant HTML email templates paired with a witty subject line but with the help of BIMI, they no longer need to rely solely on the subject line to work its magic.

In this article, we shall learn about the newest industry-standard for brand authentication i.e. BIMI and how to implement it into your email marketing campaigns.

What is BIMI? Why do you need to create a BIMI record for your brand?

BIMI is the acronym for Brand Indicators for Message Identification and pronounced as bih-mee. It is a comparatively newer authentication standard and works alongside other authentication methods such as DKIM, SPF, and DMARC to alert the email clients that a specific email is sent by your brand. The only difference from other email authentication methods is that a BIMI authentication is visible to the email users as well as the recipient’s incoming email server. An email, with verified BIMI records, displays the logo of the brand when received at the recipient’s inbox as shown below.

Clientsfromhell

The BIMI record is a text file that is placed in your sending servers.On receiving an email, the email client searches for the BIMI records and also looks up the hosted server. On confirming the authority of the server, the email client pulls up the logo of the sender’s brand, as pointed by the BIMI record. 

Some of the benefits of creating BIMI records for your brand are:

  1. Reduce Phishing Possibilities

BIMI is another step towards fighting against phishing and email scammers who tend to impersonate representatives of brands and tend to steal customer banking information. While other authentication methods can be bypassed, you need them properly set up for BIMI to work and this might discourage scammers. 

  1. Build Trust

Email users can identify the brand logo beside the email subject line and confirm that the HTML email comes from a trusted source.

  1. Ensure Free Exposure

During the onboarding and the evaluation phase of a customer journey, your prospects do not know your brand well but might be able to identify your emails. Having the brand logo displayed along with your emails will help your prospects know that the emails are from your brand.

  1. Improve Deliverability

Email deliverability depends on authentications and a good sender reputation and BIMI is another mechanism that increases the authenticity of your emails which in turn improves deliverability.

  1. Improved Implementation of other authentication types

According to Agari’s research, only 8% of Fortune 500 companies have ‘reject’ or ‘quarantine’ DMARC policies in place. You can use BIMI records only if other authentication methods are properly set up, so for their brand logos to be displayed, they may be motivated to implement the other authentication methods.

  1. Helps you stand out of the crowd

At the time of writing, very few brands such as Groupon, Grubhub, National Geographic, Clients from Hell, have implemented BIMI in their emails. So their brand logos are evident in the sea of emails with generic icons and are distinct professional email templates. 

How to implement BIMI?

BIMI authentication is not an overnight process, where your brand logo is automatically displayed from the next campaign itself. BIMI gets enabled and displays your brand logo once you have a good domain and IP reputation. In order to have a good IP reputation, you need to have a positive sender reputation. Moreover the DMARC policy needs to be set at “p=quarantine” or “p=reject” that instruct the incoming server action to be taken if the email fails a test. 

Once you have achieved that, you can apply for BIMI certification. The governing bodies (called Mark Verifying Authorities,MVA) that manage the BIMI ask for additional proof of domain ownership such as Verified Mark Certification (VMC) that talks about the rights to use a registered trademark and domain name registration. Only after getting clearance can you add a record to your Domain Name System (DNS) and upload your logo in SVG format to a public HTTPS address.

So, in a nutshell, the prerequisites to implementing the BIMI records are:

  • A positive sender reputation
  • SPF and DKIM keys are registered
  • DMARC policy is set as “p=quarantine” or “p=reject”
  • The domain owner has the correct VMC
  • Logo in SVG format

Wrap Up

Currently only Yahoo! And Gmail supports the BIMI verification method.

BIMI verification

While the adoption of BIMI is only in the early phases, it is good advice to implement all the necessary prerequisites for BIMI records beforehand as later the process may take time. While BIMI is not a security standard in itself, it enforces the adoption of other email authentication methods and helps educate the email users importance of checking the brand logo before opening the email template. In the near future, nobody shall fall prey to fraudulent as well as improper marked emails. For more information, do visit their official website.