What Is BIMI And How It Benefits You?

Vladislav Podolyako
Author: Vladislav Podolyako
Published: 2019-11-29
Reading time: 5m

Visibility is a constant priority for email marketers, especially for marketers who specialize in B2B email marketing. Businesses send around 300,000,000 emails each day, so it’s important to distinguish yourself from your competition and put yourself in front of your recipients before other companies do.

This mission requires two things: optimized email templates and an understanding of how email service providers work. The latter includes inbox optimization, exploring anti-spam filters, and knowing the processes that define whether your email is delivered correctly. 

There is no solution to provide you with ultimate visibility. Only a set of techniques and guidelines that you constantly have to follow and re-adjust to stay on the top. This year, there is a new update to keep in mind because, recently, DNS added BIMI to its information-verifying features. 

What’s a BIMI?

BIMI stands short for Brand Indicators for Message Identification. This new feature allows your recipients to see your logo next to your incoming email in their inbox. 

It’s a new standard that allows you to support your visibility and prevent fraud by senders who don’t comply with the SPAM-CAN act. Often considered a 2.0 version of DMARC, BIMI works together with DMARC, DKIM, and SPF so the email service providers of your recipients would identify you correctly and let your messages be displayed in the inbox. 

Basically, BIMI is no different from any other standard. It’s a TXT DNS record or, in other words, a text file that adheres to a certain format and is located on your sending server. When your message arrives at the recipient’s inbox, their email service providers check the BIMI file to verify the received emails. BIMI directs the recipient’s ESPs to the location of your logo, allowing them to display it next to your messages.  

Another convenient BIMI feature is that it allows making a separate unique logo for each domain and subdomain. It means that you can create separate logos for your departments or products, which in turn allows even more visibility for your individual branches and services. 

Some domains can even have personal BIMI records, allowing you to change the logo and meet the theme of a holiday or a special email.

It’s an entirely new level of email customization that costs you absolutely nothing while providing you with a plethora of advantages. 

How is it important for you to use BIMI?

Among the platforms that support BIMI, there are AOL, Verizon, and Yahoo. Gmail joined them later, while Microsoft won’t be using BIMI for now, preferring internally developed business profiles that are currently in beta-testing. 

For now, it’s hard to say how much impact the introduction of BIMI is going to have and if Microsoft is following a different strategy, the impact will be limited for the time being. However, BIMI becoming a fully-fledged standard is a matter of when not if. It will be a huge benefit for both senders and recipients. For recipients, it would mean more safety since BIMI will be able to prevent a lot of phishing scams while businesses will gain more visibility while saving up on their budget.

No wonder that major platforms, like Gmail, got interested. If you use Gmail domains to handle your B2B sales leads communication and outreach, incorporating BIMI into your arsenal is relevant to your visibility — also, if you start testing and preparations for BIMI, you will be a step ahead of your competitors when they catch up with the trend.

How you get started with BIMI

Before we say anything about creating a BIMI record, there is something important to keep in mind. Since the BIMI’s testing phase is not yet complete, if you make a BIMI record and publish it to your domain’s DNS, your logo won’t be automatically shown in all customer’s inboxes. 

The algorithm for creating BIMI is quite simple for those who have worked with DNS records before. 

  • Create a logo. You should be sure that the logo you want to see displayed next to your messages is not overwhelmed with details, reflects the essence of your brand and that generally incorporating the BIMI feature into your B2B communication aids both your deliverability and your marketing exposure. Note, that you shouldn’t use the logo developed for your general marketing campaigns. You should create a formatted logo with the right shape and weight.
  • Setup DMARC or ensure that it operates smoothly. Essentially, BIMI is the extension of DMARC. If it doesn’t operate properly, you won’t be able to integrate BIMI. Note that 'none' value is not enough for BIMI display, so when you set up your DMARC, use a ‘quarantine’ or ‘reject ’policy to ensure BIMI support.
  • Create the BIMI record. To create a BIMI record, you need other authentication records (DMARC, DKIM, SPF) and access to the domain name service you use.

The process of creating a BIMI record is similar to creating other DNS records. All the tags for BIMI are similar to the DKIM tags, so make sure to follow instructions closely. If you use the wrong characters, it will result in an incorrect interpretation. Your task is to build a pathway to the image file with your SVG logo. In case your image file is not located in a location that can be accessed with HTTPS, you should add the URL of this location to your BIMI Assertion record. 

  1. You must publish your record in a “default._bimi” zone. You can find it under the second-level domain. The contents look the following way — “v=BIMI1”.
  2. This string is then followed by; which is sometimes accompanied by space. The string also includes such tag as ‘l=`.

The end result should look like this: 

v=BIMI1; l=https://belkins.io/Belkins_Logo.svg;

  • Update your DNS record. If you did everything correctly, your BIMI record is now active and the messages in your recipient’s inbox should look like this:

To check if everything is correct, send emails to your test inbox and see how they are displayed. 

Please note that soon a new type of digital certificate will be used to certify that the logo used by BIMI is authentic and belongs to the sender. This certificate is called a Verified Mark Certificate (VMC) and it will be soon made obligatory for all BIMI records.  

The BIMI record is in its testing phase and more changes are on the way. However, when it comes to exploring the BIMI’s potential for making a change in outbound marketing strategy and open the door to new optimization opportunities? We can say that it’s about time and we will do our best to provide you with updates and the most relevant tips. 

Did you find this blog post useful? Want to learn more about inbox optimization? Send us a message and tell us what you want to know

Vladislav Podolyako
Vladislav PodolyakoiconCo-founder and CEO of Belkins and Folderly
Vlad’s a recognized expert in the areas of culture transformation and leadership development, B2B sales, marketing, spent more than 10 years building technology products, has a background in communication networks and electronic device engineering.
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