Email, or more precisely the inbox, has lately been in the news a lot.
Early in the month, the BIMI working group announced general support for Gmail inboxes. For email marketers like you, it signaled an enormous opportunity to reach almost 2 bn mailboxes with branded and authenticated emails.
BIMI—Brand Indicators for Messaging and Identification —displays your brand logo in your mails; it also authenticates that your brand genuinely sent the mail.
Your sending domain requires a strict DMARC enforcement policy (p=quarantine or p=reject) to enable BIMI. Besides adding security to your emails, the policy minimizes spoofing or phishing on the domain.
Read on, and we will also outline other benefits of BIMI beyond branding and security.
We asked a few email marketing and deliverability experts to explain how Gmail’s BIMI rollout impacts email marketers, and here’s what they had to say.
BIMI will allow consumers to connect faster with brands
Multiple studies have shown that people of all ages can recall and process images significantly faster than text-based content. With the Gmail rollout of BIMI, marketers will now be able to put their brand’s logo directly in front of their consumers at the world’s largest mailbox provider. When consumers are reading their email and successfully meet the criteria for participation in BIMI – DMARC at enforcement, BIMI logo in the tiny-PS format, and a VMC (Verified Mark Certificate) – the logo will render in both the webmail message and the mobile list view.
This connection to a brand image should allow consumers to connect faster with a brand, they are familiar with over a brand that they are not as connected with. Studies by Verizon Media have shown a significant preference for emails with the appropriate logo displaying alongside the message than emails with default or no avatar image.
VP – Deliverability, North America
Communications Chair, Authindicators Working Group
BIMI is great but don’t forget the basics
There’s so much to like about BIMI – enhanced deliverability along with having your brand’s logo appear in the inbox. The fact that Gmail is now widely supporting BIMI, making it accessible to nearly 2 billion inboxes, will certainly help speed adoption. And that’s a good thing. But…
I fear that marketers will do one-time BIMI implementation to boost the effectiveness of their email marketing messages – and then stop. In my work with clients, I often see them eager to add the latest and greatest tactics to their programs, bright, shiny things like BIMI, which are a one-and-done exercise (set it up and forget it).
I wish they got as excited about more basic, ongoing practices that can drive real boosts in email effectiveness. Things like sign-up page optimization, smart segmentation, quality campaign briefs, strategic resends, A/B split testing – I could go on but I won’t. These things aren’t sexy, but over time they will do more to boost the performance of your email marketing program than BIMI and all the other ‘bright, shiny <email> things’ combined.
BIMI will help email marketers protect their users
This is a REALLY exciting day for email marketers worldwide. At the moment, it might just be #emailgeeks like myself who think this is the best news of the year (so far), but Gmail supporting BIMI (Brand Indicators for Message Identification) will definitely have a positive impact throughout the larger marketing ecosystem. Many of us just don’t know it yet!
At WeTransfer, our users come first—and for us, that means protecting their safety, earning their trust, and always seeking to bring more value to our products.
Running a platform that serves millions of users every day, we understand the struggles involved in fighting phishing attempts and making it through to email clients.
According to the FBI, phishing was the most common cybercrime in 2020, with 75% of organizations around the world experiencing some kind of phishing attack, and 96% of those attacks arriving by email. That’s why Gmail supporting BIMI is such a great opportunity to safeguard honest and reliable senders.
At first, BIMI was piloted mainly on Yahoo! Mail, but now that it will be running on Gmail, all email marketers should soon observe at least some change. I expect to see real benefits over time, as the vast majority of WeTransfer users employ Gmail as an email client.
Back in 2020, we began preparing the ground for this moment, implementing all the security standards and protocols necessary for BIMI (DMARC, DKIM, and SPF). As a result, WeTransfer’s presence in people’s inboxes will soon be further authenticated by our trademarked logo appearing next to our name.
This rollout of BIMI by Gmail should have several positive impacts, including:
- Stronger brand recognition, with more engagement and clicks
- Higher visibility in inboxes, and easier filtering of emails
- Increased control over imagery and logos
- Improved security against phishing attacks
- Enhanced confidence on the part of customers
It’s been a long time coming, and it’s only one step in the fight against cybercrime, but I’m confident that BIMI’s arrival will help the email marketing community protect its users. So let’s all breathe a sigh of relief and enjoy the good news! 🙂
BIMI will improve User Interface and brand experience
Hands down, Gmail is the leader and a behemoth in the provider space. Gmail’s adoption will likely be the impetus for change for many. The growth of BIMI will positively impact marketers, recipients, and the industry.
Marketing Impact: Brand impressions, BABY! A few stats pop out that illustrate the importance of logo display.
“It takes 5 to 7 impressions for people to remember your brand.” – Pam Moore
Enabling BIMI helps to add to the number of opportunities (no matter how small) you have to create a brand impression.
“Colour can increase brand recognition by up to 80%” – NCBI
Why get lost amongst the phrases and generic logos, when you can stand out with a colorful logo and add another touchpoint to increase brand recognition.
“Consistent brand presentation across all platforms increases revenue by 23%” – Forbes
BIMI allows the brand to control the logo that is displayed, no matter which provider a customer uses to receive their message.
BIMI requires a published DMARC record with a policy of “quarantine” or “reject”. Authenticated email means fewer chances for your brand to be misused in an attack.
Recipient Impact: Improved UI and brand experience.
Without BIMI, Gmail displays a generic avatar. It’s not eye-catching, blends in with other senders making sorting more tedious, and leaves the user without a brand impression.
Visuals make inbox management faster, easier, and a better overall experience. Better experience -> more satisfied users -> fewer negative interactions. However, this assumes best practices are followed, those are a must-have.
Industry Impact: The more senders protect their streams with DMARC, the healthier the email ecosystem will be.
TL;DR BIMI and the foundations needed to deploy it will offer brand impressions, a way to protect that brand, and give you a better footing to achieve delivery and deliverability.
BIMI allows brands to convey trust to the recipients
Gmail supporting BIMI was a much-needed step forward in increasing the security and trust from recipients for the branded emails entering the inbox every day. Trust in email has always been and remains to be integral to the success of the channel.
BIMI enables recipients to immediately recognize the sender and have trust that it is that company communicating with them and not a spammer. This is a much-needed step in increasing the security levels of emails that enter the inbox, making it more difficult for spammers to represent an organization falsely.
To be BIMI verified will require the implementation of DMARC, which has always been a focus of the email community to undertake, and now that will increase even further. This is excellent news for the email industry and email recipients in reducing spam and making the inbox a more secure place.
Certified brand logos will reduce malicious activity inside the inbox
BIMI closes the loop of a trustable email delivery chain.
When multi-factor authentication (SPF, DKIM, and DMARC) policy would strengthen the technical part, one key element was still missing: by using a look-alike domain such as mlcrosoft.com, the end-user could mistake it for the legit microsoft.com, and the malicious sender would work around all the technical safety features in place. By displaying an appropriate brand logo to the end-user for the legit domain, the risk to the end-user greatly decreases.
But BIMI can only be a game-changer if it is widely adopted, and Gmail’s move is a big step in this direction, in some parts of the world more than others (in Western Europe, Gmail accounts for half of the marketing email sent).
The announced cost of the Verified Mark Certificates (VMC), around US$1000, makes it a bad option for malicious senders but also is a hurdle for many small businesses. These small businesses that can’t afford the certificate costs may become the next target for cybercriminals.
Enabling BIMI can unlock higher open rates
With over 300 billion emails sent daily — a number that is projected to rise nearly 20 percent over the next four years — it is extremely difficult for brands to stand out in the inbox. From subject line variations to send-time frequency, every brand has a different strategy for standing out, and Gmail has just added one more tool to solve for just that.
Google recently announced that Gmail will be going live with BIMI (brand indicators for message identification) and will be rolling out the new feature — which places your brand’s logo directly in your recipients’ inboxes — and helps verify that your emails are secure.
“BIMI provides email recipients and email security systems increased confidence in the source of emails and enables senders to provide their audience with a more immersive experience,” Google wrote in a blog post.
While email marketers have to take several steps before being able to use BIMI, other inbox providers have noted a significant rise in open rates from brands using BIMI. And not only are their open rates increasing — their competitors are decreasing.
According to a study by Red sift, an investment firm that displayed its logo using BIMI had a six percent increase in its share of opens. A competitor saw a 10 percent decrease. Another example from a UK energy provider with only six percent market share implemented BIMI and saw their open rates increase 38 percent, thanks to logo visibility. A leading provider with higher market share lost 11 percent of its open rate.
While BIMI is still fresh, new and exciting, email marketers and their organizations must work together to ensure all requirements are met prior to implementing BIMI. And with Gmail rolling out the feature, if you haven’t started the requirements and validation process, it’s time to get started.
BIMI will help senders stand out in the inbox
BIMI’s foray into Gmail inboxes is great news for email senders.
BIMI will add a new layer of authentication for email senders to improve their brand credibility and trustworthiness to their subscribers. After all, email-related frauds/scams that keep happening have made subscribers prioritize safety in their brand interactions. Enabling BIMI will allow the subscribers to gain assurance with the emails they like to receive and make them feel safe.
Gmail recently reported that almost 70% of the daily email phishing activity observed is new in the email history. If that’s the case with the world’s biggest MSP, how can consumers know if an email is genuine or not? Gmail has taken a major step with BIMI to protect its users from harmful cyber-crimes. Hopefully, with Gmail on board, other MSPs will also start adopting the standard.
Big businesses can enjoy increased brand visibility and faster affinity with their customers, but small businesses might see the $1000 VMC certificate as a deterrent. (They can still use BIMI for Yahoo! Subscribers as that doesn’t require any VMC)
So how will it impact email marketers?
1. Verified logo that attributes directly to your brand. Logo standardization will be achieved as the impersonators can’t copy or misuse it.
2. Regular DMARC reports informing about any possible phishing/spoofing issues.
3. Customers start associating the brand with emails, and consumer trust will increase.
4. Stand out in a crowded inbox by displaying your brand’s logo.5. Improves subscriber engagement as a result of the added visibility.
You can check your BIMI standard compliance and implementation steps on Grademyemail.
BIMI as a specification is still in its nascent stage and that’s what makes it more exciting! The possibilities for BIMI are endless with email marketers looking at new ways to stay on top of their customers’ minds and inboxes.
We now know that BIMI will have a significant impact on branding and authenticating your emails.
But can BIMI affect your email performance as well?
Can setting up BIMI lead to better email reception from mailbox providers?
Yahoo! Verizon reported an increase of open rates by 10% post BIMI implementation. We also know that Gmail’s anti-spam filters reward engagement with good deliverability.
Connecting the two, could it mean that the use of BIMI over time can improve inbox placement?
Of course, it would be wrong to assume that having a logo next to your “from address” would make your emails land in the inbox. But strong authentication protocols and increased engagement could positively influence Gmail deliverability.
Here’s what the deliverability experts had to say…
BIMI itself has no impact on delivery whatsoever. Where the connection can be made is by driving additional engagement and provide positive signals due to consumer interactions with emails.
As an added benefit of implementing BIMI, a brand will improve their email authentication, reduce the potential for your brand to be spoofed or maliciously used in fraud, and can lead to better performance and deliverability. While implementing strong authentication, brands that make the effort to correct issues with unauthenticated email have seen a significant performance boost with delivery throughput, domain reputation, and inbox placement which then leads to an improvement in opens, clicks, and conversions.
I don’t see BIMI has a deliverability argument. At best, it would increase engagement for a time, for brands for which a logo is displayed. But deliverability rules are already pretty straightforward at Gmail: get consent, send relevant content, sunset your inactive recipients. It’s a not-so-secret secret sauce, and from our long experience, it works.
BIMI is, however, a nice marketing push, at least in the beginning (while the competitors don’t display their logo yet), and more importantly, it requires a strong DMARC policy. Even if it is not visible for a marketing team, this remains the biggest benefit of BIMI.
Posting a BIMI record will change the deliverability tide for a sender. False.
DNS records for BIMI are instructional, giving information to the receivers about what image should be displayed and who can use it. So it’s not the record that improves deliverability, but BIMI’s requirements and the process by which it gets implemented.
In setting up BIMI, a sender is in a better position to have strong deliverability because:
- DMARC policy at an enforcement level is required — meaning there’s a policy posted dictating what to do with unauthenticated email.
The process of implementing DMARC leads to a review of what mail is authenticated and a closure of gaps where it’s not. Matthew Vernhout’s chat with Lauren Meyer on our Kickbox blog is a great resource to learn about authentication.
- Gmail requires a Verified Mark Certificate (VMC). VMC’s (Verified Mark Certificate) certify the image in the BIMI record is trademarked and which domains are authorized to keep spoofers from piggybacking off it.
- Receivers require a positive reputation. A sender’s deliverability is at the discretion of the receiver and is the outcome of many signals, of which good reputation is a minimum. The same logic applies to BIMI.
To benefit from BIMI, sending behaviors that may prevent you from getting your reputation in good standing will need to be adjusted. As that happens, deliverability will naturally follow suit.
TL;DR: BIMI’s ability to increase brand impressions is motivated to get authentication and sending behaviors right.
BIMI doesn’t equate to deliverability, it enables the tools that do.
BIMI gets accepted into another mailbox provider – this time the biggest in the world. Gmail allowing BIMI standard to its 2bn mailboxes could prove to be a gamechanger. BIMI has the ability to not only improve branding and visibility for marketers but also inspire consumer trust.
Our post contributors think that the introduction of BIMI in Gmail will:
- Allow consumers to connect faster with brands
- Boost the effectiveness of the email messages
- Protect recipients from spoofing/phishing
- Improve user interface and brand experience
- Allow brands to create trust for their consumers
- Reduce malicious activity inside the inbox
- Help senders stand out in a crowded inbox
The jury is still out on whether using BIMI-certified logos can impact email deliverability. But there is a strong connection between engagement and deliverability. So, it wouldn’t come as a surprise if email senders that implement BIMI find themselves in the good books of mailbox providers and anti-spam authorities.
All in all, it would be worth a shot!
Check our ultimate guide to BIMI to know more about its implementation and specifications.
Netcore Cloud supports BIMI and our expert team can help you in setting it up from scratch. Get in touch today to experience AI-powered email delivery