Brand Indicators for Message Identification (BIMI) ready for takeoff

BIMI is the new open standard to visualise your brand in the recipient’s mailbox with an image.

Email marketers are on a constant search for that one trick that will give them better visibility in front of subscribers and get their messages open. The bad news: no such solution exists – despite what many vendors may tell you. The good news: the new standard – Brand Indicators for Message Identification (BIMI) – will certainly help your brand stand out in the inbox. It will not only support your visibility, but it’s also designed to prevent fraudulent emails and aide deliverability.

In this article, we’ll talk about:

  • Why BIMI?
  • What are the requirements for BIMI?
  • Who is supporting BIMI?
  • Will BIMI takeoff?

Sounds good, huh? Let’s dig in and find out how it works.

Why BIMI?

The new standard makes use of DMARC, leading some to call BIMIDMARC 2.0”. Like DMARC, DKIM and SPF – three methods for verifying sender information – BIMI is a text record which lives on your server. In fact, it works alongside SPF, DKIM and DMARC to signal to email clients that you are, well, you. While almost all previous authentication and identification methods work in the background, BIMI is the first one that really tries to visualise and strengthen your brand right at the front-end. The mailbox provider will show your branded image within the user interface.

                                           
Without BIMI (Source: Brand Indicators)                       With BIMI (Source: Brand Indicators)

What are the requirements for BIMI?

In order to enable BIMI, you have to make sure the following requirements are in place:

  • Having a DMARC record with a ‘quarantine’ or ‘reject’ policy.
  • Be recognised as a bulk sender and have a good sender reputation.
  • You need another DNS record, the so-called BIMI Assertion Record. This record will contain the link to the image (SVG format) that is going to be used.

This TXT record needs to be placed as (for example) default._bimi in the DNS of the sending domain. Usually, this would be the From header. The value of the record looks like:

v=BIMI1; l=https://www.example.com/images/logo.svg

More information on how to publish a BIMI Assertion Record in DNS can be found here.

This should be enough for now. But it the future you may need to certificate the image. Otherwise, anyone could publish someone else’s logo on their domain. The providers require the certificate to prove ownership of the domain name. The proof is held and secured (cryptographically) by third parties referred to as Mark-Verifying Authorities.

Who is supporting BIMI?

BIMI is currently only supported by OATH (Yahoo & AOL, they will identify domain brands automatically) and Verizon. But we recently heard at the CSA in Cologne, that Gmail has joined the working group. It is not yet clear whether they will actually support BIMI in their client. A report of all sessions at CSA Summit 2019 can be found here.

Microsoft seems to be going in another direction and will not use the BIMI standard. Instead, they are going to use so-called business profiles, see business.microsoft.com. It’s in beta testing at the moment and is publicly available for any consumer-facing business in the US.

Will BIMI take off?

Since Gmail is not supporting BIMI (yet) and Microsoft is following a different strategy the impact will be limited for the time being. Nevertheless, we think that is good to start with BIMI tech-preparations and testing.

More info?

We will be testing BIMI support with a few brands. Stay tuned for the results. And if you have any questions, just contact us.

If you really want to dig deep, you can check out the official working group’s Brand Indicators for Message Identification working draft. It goes into exceptional detail regarding the way BIMI works for both senders and recipient mail transfer agents.

Final Thoughts: Successful Email Marketing Is Built On Trust

Wondering what the initial value of BIMI is for email marketers? Isn’t it obvious? You get your logo to display next to your messages – in supported inboxes. However, the real value is in establishing trust with your brand’s emails.

If you are still not convinced you should take advantage of Brand Indicators for Message Identification, we can change your mind. How? The fundamental goal of BIMI is to make it easy for subscribers to identify trustworthy message senders and, therefore, trust the content in their inbox. You do want your subscribers to trust you, don’t you?

And lastly, we already told you BIMI will also aide your deliverability. Since so much of it is based on authentication and reputation, BIMI will provide yet another mechanism to improve your odds at making it to the inbox.

This article was reproduced with permission from our valued partners, Postmastery.

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