How and Why to Implement BIMI

As email sending volumes continue to increase, email deliverability experts know that they’ll have to work long and hard to make sure that inboxes are getting our clients’ messages. One way we’ve already seen this play out is the creation of BIMI.

With a relatively quick adoption rate, BIMI is fast becoming a standard authentication protocol which relies on several other authentications already in place and is an incredibly secure and visually effective tool.

What is BIMI, exactly?

BIMI or “Brand Identificators for Message Identification” (pronounced: Bih-mee) is designed to protect email communications against identity theft. But it also has additional benefits.

What sets BIMI apart from other standards is that BIMI is focused on verifying senders through the brands they represent.

Unlike most email protocols, BIMI can be recognized even by people who have little knowledge about email security. See the example below. The screens show messages sent by recognized brands. Instead of a letter or a placeholder image configured by the sender, you can see their logos next to the messages.

Image courtesy of Valimail

It helps recognize legitmate emails thanks to its straightforward visual identification. Although it is a sophisticated authorization tool, the results are very user-friendly and human-readable.

BIMI Has Major Benefits

Besides protecting your brand from fraudulent and scam emails, it also has some extra benefits that may surprise you. BIMI helps your messages get opened, noticed, and inboxed.

Open Rates 

According to the research Verizon Media Group brands using BIMI saw a 10% increase in open rates on average during the BIMI beta program for Yahoo! Mail. So, this is a great advantage. This is very good information. Marketers are struggling to increase open rates. BIMI can be a nice asset.

Brand Awareness

Displaying a logo next to an email in the inbox can help users more quickly recognize your brand, and build a positive association with it. When they repeatedly see your branded messages, your brand becomes more familiar and trustworthy. In the long run, they can convert into more loyal customers.

Inboxing 

BIMI is built on top of SPF, DKIM and DMARC. All those protocols are designed to increase email security and deliverability. We can think of them as positive signals for mailbox providers that are deciding whether to put your email in the inbox or in the spam folder. If you gain more positive signals, your chance for inboxing grows.  

BIMI is now supported by major email players like Yahoo, Outlook, and Gmail. This standard will be more common in the future.

Should Use BIMI

Large and medium-volume sender? đź‘Ť

Those who send emails frequently, for instance, large ecommerce stores, SaaS tools, etc, might want to give BIMI a shot. Why? They are the ones who can see the impact of BIMI the most, have the knowledge and resources to go through the process to set it up.

Low-volume or infrequent sender? đź‘Ž

We wouldn’t recommend BIMI for those who don’t send a lot of emails. But, if you have the technical knowledge, you can try to do it on your own, using the information below.

Note: You can display a logo in the inbox without setting up BIMI. You can have your logo displayed next to an email, but it works when using Gmail, and only for Gmail users. All you need to do is to add an image in your Google Account’s profile settings. It is the easiest way to achieve a BIMI-like effect. Yet, it doesn’t grant you security nor does it provide you with better deliverability as BIMI does. You will find more information here.

How to Implement BIMI

Step 1

Authenticate and align all emails

  • DMARC policy must be at enforcement (either “p=quarantine” or “p=reject”)
  • Need help with DMARC? See “How to Set Up DMARC” or contact us

Step 2

Produce an SVG version of logo

  • Use SVG format (a vector image format with .svg extension)
  • The image must be square-shaped and should contain the only logo (without any text) 
  • The image must be stored using HTTPS
  • More information on creating your SVG image

Step 3 (optional)

Verify your mark

You also need a Verified Mark Certificate that will validate your organization and associate it with your official logo. This is similar to an SSL certificate and can be issued, for example, by Digicert.

Step 4

Publish BIMI record to DNS

  • Format: default._bimi.[domain] “v=BIMI1; l=[SVG URL]; a=[PEM URL]”
  • Example: default._bimi.acme.com v=BIMI1; l=https://acme.com/img/logo.svg; a=https://acme.com/img/logo.pem”
  • Alternatively, you can create and validate your record with a BIMI Inspector

Takeaway

BIMI is definitely a worthwhile investment for marketers and brands that rely heavily on email. Aside from protecting senders from having their identity stolen, it may potentially improve brand awareness and increase open rates for early adopters.

If you do not have time and resources to implement BIMI now, bear in mind that in the next couple of years this will be a must-have for email senders.

If you discover that DMARC and BIMI to be tricky to set up and need professional help, feel free to contact us. We’re happy to help.