Gif of BIMI in the inbox

BIMI: The Latest in Email Authentication

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Brand Indicators for Message Identification, known to its friends as BIMI, is the latest and greatest in email authentication.

What is BIMI?

BIMI is a new method of brand identification and email authentication. Why does it matter? Because it’s the first email identification method that is visible to the end user.

Since email’s existence, we’ve needed a way to determine what emails are fake and which are real. There are several IT methods to prove your identity. Think of BIMI as your driver’s license via technology—an approved way to say, “I am who I say I am.” These types of identification are not 100% solutions (we all knew someone with a fake driver’s license in college), but they certainly help to get through to inboxes.

BIMI ties marketers to deliverability via brand recognition, something that no other technology does—not DMARC, DKIM, SPF, anything. Since those are all invisible to subscribers, deliverability can often times be an afterthought to marketers. BIMI is helping to bridge that gap and reduce spam messages by giving marketers a reason to implement it.

Subscribers will be able to see a brand’s logo in their inbox as a signal that this sender is who they say they are, thereby hopefully playing into their trust of the sender.  Brands get some incentive by way of additional branding in their subscribers’ inboxes. Needless to say, BIMI has piqued marketers’ attention.

What Do You Need to Know?

It’s new. Brand spanking. It doesn’t have high adoption today, and the only email client that supports it is Yahoo! However, Gmail has indicated they are going to support BIMI as well in early 2020.

The industry is waiting to see if this is the super hero of driver’s licenses for brands. Because it has a visual indicator to users, marketers are talking about this more and more, along with the IT world. There are predictions that this could be a game changer in email marketing.

Before and after of an inbox with BIMI implemented

How Does BIMI Work?

BIMI is another type of text record. The benefit of BIMI will not only help visibility and show a brand’s logo, but it’s also designed to combat fraudulent emails and deliverability issues. In a nutshell, BIMI allows you to build good trust with subscribers.

Enabling BIMI doesn’t instantaneously populate your logo. It does take some time to grab your logo, and it will only apply it once it sees you have a good domain and IP reputation (which can take time).

The BIMI text record combats fraudulent emails because it has the exact location of the logo it’s pulling in (which is incredibly difficult to fake) and the format it’s in (which needs to be an .SVG file).

BIMI can only work when a few conditions are met.

Other protocols already exist

A brand can only implement BIMI when:

  1. Their domain and any subdomains are registered with a Domain Name System (DNS).
  2. An SPF and DKIM record are both set up.
  3. They’re compliant with DMARC.

Good deliverability

Another requirement to implementing BIMI is that brands need to have good deliverability. For this, you need a good domain and IP reputation, plus good subscriber engagement.

Most senders think about their IP address as the only reason to build a reputation, but they don’t think about the domain. A brand can’t have a good reputation without a good domain. If people are clicking on that link (aka domain) in emails, it should have a good reputation.

A good reputation needs to be built up, like a credit score. In order to achieve that, the sender needs to have a healthy, engaged subscriber list. Engagement, in this case, is just opening an email, not necessarily click-throughs. Healthy email open rates indicate your recipients know and trust you, the sender. This, coupled with the volume of emails being deployed, is what an IP reputation is based on for BIMI implementation.

Can BIMI Guarantee 100% Deliverability?

No. Nothing can.

BIMI does not guarantee 100% deliverability, but it can help your brand achieve a higher rate of deliverability. Because it’s such a robust additional layer of security, it minimizes the risk of an email going to a spam folder.

Again, BIMI has low adoption right now and is only currently supported on Yahoo!, so other email clients may not follow the same protocol yet. Meaning, just because you have BIMI doesn’t mean Gmail isn’t going to send your email to the spam folder, even though they’re in the process of adding BIMI support.

The reason why nothing can guarantee 100% deliverability is because subscribers can still customize their spam folders. Even if you have a great domain and IP reputation, good engagement, everything is set up properly, etc., there is no way to assuredly bypass an individual’s custom spam settings.

BIMI and Your Email on Acid Workflow

While our product suite does not interact with BIMI at this time, our Product team is carving out a spot for it in a future update, where it will work alongside other checks like Inbox Display, Deliverability and Email Previews.

We are investigating how we can enable BIMI for Email on Acid’s emails as well.

However, you can run a domain blacklist check in Campaign Precheck to see if your domain populates on any of the major blacklist sites to start the process of building your good domain reputation. From there, you can also run a spam test to see easy-to-read graphs and quick stats on your email’s deliverability.

Email on Acid deliverability graph
Email on Acid checks business-to-business (B2B) and business-to-consumer (B2C) spam filters. As you can see here, B2B filters can be a bit more difficult to get through.

Why Should You Care?

Industry knowledge is power. BIMI may be brand new on the market, but considering how impactful it is, both for email security and brand recognition, it will be a best practice at some point down the road. Might as well be one of the first to adopt and get your logo in front of more eyes before it sees widespread adoption and every other brand stealing those eyes in the inboxes too.

Be an early adopter and log into your Email on Acid account to start prepping and run a domain blacklist check. Maybe even revisit your brand’s sending cadence to determine if your email volume is sufficient for BIMI implementation.

Even Great Emails Need to Be Tested

It’s true: Even well-designed emails can break from time to time. That’s why email testing is an important part of sending a successful email. Email on Acid can test your email code in seconds, allowing you to preview your design across 90+ email clients and devices. Try us free for seven days and check your email today.

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Author: Melissa Berdine

Venturing from her DC and NYC roots, Melissa made the trek to Denver. With just her dog and a background of copywriting and editing, she joined Email on Acid as content manager. Melissa is known to friends as an avid cook and music festival enthusiast.

Author: Melissa Berdine

Venturing from her DC and NYC roots, Melissa made the trek to Denver. With just her dog and a background of copywriting and editing, she joined Email on Acid as content manager. Melissa is known to friends as an avid cook and music festival enthusiast.

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