What the heck is BIMI and why is it so important?

What is BIMI? #

I don’t blame you for asking. Honestly it sounds like a new Scandi-style furniture company, or maybe an app for experiencing what it’s like in another person’s shoes (could someone please build that??).

But really BIMI stands for “Brand Indicators for Message Identification”, which is an attempt to give trusted senders control over how their brand is represented in messaging services. For participating mailbox providers Yahoo, that means BIMI adopters will have the logo they choose displayed in their recipients’ inboxes. 

BIMI Before and After

Why is BIMI so important for marketers? #

The most obvious advantage for BIMI-compliant mail is seeing the brand's logo in the inbox, which will of course help your messages stand out and encourage more opens. 🙌  But the process of setting up BIMI also requires some behind-the-scenes changes that actually make your messages more secure, so you're protecting your brand reputation. 

Finally, there's an argument that BIMI better trains your customers to recognize messages from you, so if a scammer ever tries to take advantage of your customers, you're protecting them by making it easier to recognize those spoofed messages aren't legitimate. This makes BIMI especially powerful for more at-risk businesses like banks, social media platforms, and major retailers.

Definitely check out our favorite guide on the subject so far: Everything marketers need to know about BIMI: The latest email standard It's got some great insight into how BIMI is working to fight fraud and maximize recipient engagement.

How does BIMI work?  #

Whenever you send DMARC-compliant mail, the mailbox provider for that recipient checks your "From" domain's DNS for a BIMI TXT record. The TXT record really is just text containing the URL for your brand's logo and information on any Verified Mark Certificate (VMC) you may have. Your good sending reputation and/or the assurance of a VMC gives the receiver confidence to display that referenced logo image for the recipient in the inbox. 

Although BIMI is being developed by a larger group of providers, right now it's only live in production at Yahoo via webmail or their mobile mail app. Gmail currently only has a private pilot for BIMI, but we're expecting them and Comcast to announce public adoption soon. ⏳

How do you implement BIMI? #

DMARC Compliance #

The first and most important step towards BIMI is full DMARC compliance. That means SPF and/or DKIM for all mail must be authenticated using your From domain

Return-Path: <bounce-cn3-ZH_CNNT_NDBAN11112020cdfcd=2@transactional.cnn.com>
DKIM-Signature: v=1; a=rsa-sha256; c=relaxed/relaxed; d=transactional.cnn.com; s=v2; ...
From: CNN <cnn@cnn.com>

Once complete, that From domain also needs either a “reject” or “quarantine” DMARC policy. This process shows receivers that you’re conscientious of the types of messages your brand sends and why, helping build your reputation as a sender.

_dmarc.cnn.com TXT
v=DMARC1; p=reject; rua=mailto:dmarc_agg@vali.email

BIMI logo image #

Next you’ll need to create your BIMI logo image. The recommendations right now are an SVG formatted file designed as a perfect square, hosted publicly accessible via HTTPS. Make sure there’s no taglines or extra text in it, since this logo will likely be displayed too small to render anything like that.

Update DNS #

Now comes the DNS changes to announce your participation in BIMI. The basic setup is “v=BIMI1; l=logoURL;” as a TXT record for default._bimi.yourdomain. As an example, the insurance company Aetna currently publishes the following:

default._bimi.cnn.com TXT
v=BIMI1; l=https://amplify.valimail.com/bimi/time-warner/LysAFUdG-Hw-cnn_vmc.svg; a=https://amplify.valimail.com/bimi/time-warner/LysAFUdG-Hw-cnn_vmc.pem

Some brands may want to have multiple logos for different use cases, but this “default” selector above works as-is for all mail.

How to build your BMI Reputation
#

And finally, even if someone does all the technical things right, receivers won’t display the logo for senders they don’t trust. Right now there’s two ways to build your BIMI reputation:

  1. Maintain an excellent sending reputation via high engagement with low bounces and spam complaints. Keep in mind that this reputation is subjective to each mailbox provider.
  2. Some mailbox providers may require you to obtain a verified mark certificate (VMC). That means you'll need to work with a trust authority which is then listed in your BIMI TXT record with your logo for the receiver’s reference.

If you’d like some advice on setting up BIMI for your Postmark messages, definitely give me a shout!

But even if your email messages aren’t quite ready for BIMI adoption, keep in mind that it’s an open standard for use by any sender and receiver. That means we’re expecting it to show up not just in inboxes, but social media platforms, messaging apps, and even document and fund transfer services. Heck, someone should use it in a Transporter so Rian can boldly say “BIMI up, Scotty!” The possibilities are endless.

Anna Ward

Anna Ward

Head of Deliverability and professional picnicker.

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