Jun 3, 2020

What is BIMI and how can marketers use it for email campaigns?

Light Bulb and Yellow Cube with At Symbol

You may have heard about BIMI logos and how they can boost engagement in email marketing campaigns. This post (the first in a series) explains the basics of BIMI.

Email isn’t just a 1-to-1 communication tool. It’s not even just a group communication tool any more. It’s the heart of business, and the heart of a business’s identity. There’s no shortage of what email is used for today: It’s your password change or confirmation, your invoices, account activations, registration confirmations, receipts, loyalty club notices, and the list goes on. No matter what, email keeps growing and we rely on it more and more every day. For marketers, it’s always been a significant focus for email campaigns.

Email marketing campaigns are another area where this medium reigns supreme.  Email marketing produces an ROI of 42:1, far beyond other types of programs. And yet there’s always room for improvement — always a need to make your email marketing more efficient by improving deliverability to people’s inboxes, by increasing open rates, and by lifting engagement with the messages.  As marketers, we have to ask ourselves: How can we stand out in the inbox?

From the creators of BIMI, a new email standard, comes a solution:

“Brand Indicators for Message Identification or BIMI (pronounced: Bih-mee) is an emerging email specification that enables the use of brand-controlled logos within supporting email clients. BIMI leverages the work an organization has put into deploying DMARC protection, by bringing brand logos to the customer’s inbox. For the brand’s logo to be displayed, the email must pass DMARC authentication checks, ensuring that the organization’s domain has not been impersonated.”

BIMI in plain English

Put simply: BIMI enables you to display your logo in customers’ and prospects’ inboxes, like this:

Before and after implementing BIMI

Not only does that look cool, but in tests on Yahoo Mail — which has been testing BIMI in a pilot project for the past year — putting recognized logos next to email messages increased customer engagement with those messages by an average of 10%.

Google will begin its own test of BIMI, with a BIMI pilot project expected to start later this year.

But, as the BIMI group paragraph above explains, before you can use BIMI, you need DMARC protection. (There are other requirements, but this is one of the most basic.) Fortunately, DMARC enforcement has a marketing benefit too: It protects your brand by definitively blocking bad (spoofed) emails from being sent from your domain.

And, it turns out, there’s a substantial cybersecurity benefit to that as well.

So the answer to standing out in the inbox could lie not just in a better marketing strategy but in better email security.

What’s DMARC and why do I need it?

DMARC (Domain-based Message Authentication, Reporting, & Conformance) is the prerequisite for using BIMI. Not only will DMARC protect your domain’s brand reputation by preventing spoofing, it also acts as encouragement for a healthy ecosystem of brands and emailing domains, ensuring that only authorized senders can use your domain. Note that it’s not enough to just deploy DMARC for monitoring how your domain is used (in monitor mode, also known as a policy of “none”), you also have to do so with a policy of rejecting or quarantining bad emails.

What does taking these steps really do? Well, DMARC with a quarantine or reject policy does two main things:

  1. Protects your brand from being impersonated or spoofed
  2. Provides reassurance to your prospects and customers that an email from you can be trusted – before opening the message

Sounds great, right? So how do you get to DMARC enforcement and what is its relationship to BIMI? In this four-part blog series we’ll go over the following topics:

  • Overview –  what’s BIMI? (*You are here)
  • All about BIMI: The benefits, how you get to the state of “BIMI-readiness”, what are the requirements, and what’s the process
  • The paths to DMARC enforcement: the DIY approach and alternative paths
  • Best practices: When you’re BIMI-ready how can you best use it to your advantage?

Can’t wait to get started on your journey to enforcement? Check out our free tool for DMARC visibility today.

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