How to Implement BIMI standard validation on your Email Marketing?

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Let’s start by saying what BIMI standard is not: a slang for BMW like a beamer and is not that vegetable very similar to broccoli. Nothing of the sort. BIMI standard protocol is how you make visible all your efforts to implement SPF, DKIM and… DMARC as an email sender.

How am I doing that, you might ask? Well, in an age of people fooled by phishing, spoofing, and fraudulent emails, having something that can assure that you’re the real brand behind the email is a must. What this new BIMI email standard does, is to add your brand logo into your email sender name when people check their inbox.

Check this example below when we finished testing our own at sendXmail.

sendxmail test of bimi standard protocol
It's in Portuguese, but you get the idea.

Why is the BIMI standard so important today?

Not many ESP (email service providers) adopt this new BIMI standard. First, it was just Yahoo! Mail, so few bothered to change a thing.

But then, the juggernaut Gmail adopted it, and everyone went crazy to do it because… well, Gmail represented 43% of the email service market share in 2020. That’s an insane number. Over 1.8 billion people use Gmail today. That means that most of your email subscribers have a Gmail account.

The question arises again. Why should you care to add another protection layer to your email? The excellent answer should be because it’s the right thing to do. But we all know how the world is filled with good intentions and not actions. So, let me make this really exciting for you:

It will bring you more open emails and eventually get better deliverability metrics overall. Does that make you excited?

What is the BIMI standard?

BIMI stands for Brand Indicators for Message Identification. What it actually does, is validate if you have proper DMARC implementation, and if it does, it shows your logo on the email readers that support this new standard. For instance, those globes you see on the Gmail app will be showing your brand logo.

It will bring more certainty to each subscriber of the email with your brand name, that’s really is from your brand. From a security standpoint, this is excellent news.

From a marketing perspective, it’s marvellous because it’s a great way to show off your brand more and even pass your competition that doesn’t do that yet. Just imagine all that endless scrolling of emails in each subscriber’s inbox, and then one or two stand out with their logos shining bright. Guess who takes advantage of their attention and gets an open?

Another advantage is that you can control what logo it’s shown on this space. It’s the one that you’ll create just for this purpose. Are you hearing your brand manager scream of pure delight? Yeap, everybody’s happy.

BIMI standard protocol end result example

Who’s behind BIMI standard?

To ensure that you won’t be taking unnecessary steps, the brands behind this new validation standard are none other than Google, LinkedIn, Mailchimp, SendGrid, Validity, Valimail, Fastmail, and VerizonMedia.

It means that these heavyweights are investing deeply into this new validation procedure, and it won’t be away soon. The rewards are much higher than the hassle to implement it.

How does BIMI standard work?

The sender needs to have all the other sender validation sets already well implemented for the logo to be displayed. We’re talking about SPF, DKIM and DMARC, which we have already published how to do earlier in previous articles. Check those links.

That validation will define your sender as a trustworthy source, and it will then search for the logo to display according to the instructions below.

If you have already implemented the previous validations, this will be very similar, while a bit tricky in some parts.

Here’s a step-by-step workflow for your BIMI standard implementation. It’s what we’ve done to create our own, and it worked perfectly. So, let us know if you haven’t.

First STEP to implement BIMI standard protocol

  1. Check if you have SPF, DKIM and DMARC already set and validated. You can test it out with a tool like this one.
  2. Ensure that your DMARC policy definition states that if the test fails, it’s rejected or quarantined. If you have it activated just to “none”, it won’t work.
  3. Another critical point is that the percentage of messages on that DMARC should be 100. Lower than that, and it will fail through.
  4. Check our previous article on how to implement your DMARC.

Second STEP to implement BIMI standard Protocol

  1. Create your brand logo in a Scalable Vector Graphic (SVG) Tiny PS type.
  2. It must be squared and sure that there’s enough space within that square for the logo’s eventual cropping.
  3. The background can’t be transparent. It must have a solid colour.

This step is really tricky. This is where you could find a bit of a problem because you must do the SVG right. If you have some definitions of the file that doesn’t comply, it will generate an error. We’ll post a link below where you can validate the file as well.

It’s also important to remember that your brand logo will be tiny on those little globes at each subscriber’s inbox. Make sure that your logo is recognizable within that space.

Third STEP to implement BIMI standard Protocol

  1. Publish a BIMI record on your domain’s DNS.
  2. Here’s an example of what that BIMI record could be:default._bimi.[domain] IN TXT “v=BIMI1; l=[SVG URL]; a=[PEM URL]
  3. Substitute these brackets terms with your data.
  4. Ensure that the logo will be under an SSL web address, or it won’t work.
  5. Check if your BIMI record is valid by using the BIMI inspector.

Here are a few pointers to help you with this step; the final tag (a= at the end) is optional, and for Gmail, it doesn’t matter at the moment. That means you don’t need to activate a certificate to reach Gmail with your BIMI logo.

If you must know what that little “a” tag stands for, introduce the URL when the ESP can find your *.pem file. You can find a description of creating a *.pem file within this link. But as mentioned, for the moment, to reach Gmail users, you don’t need one.

These conditions may vary in the future because everyone is still trying to understand how to run a proper industry standard. As you can imagine, so many stakeholders can generate a lot of discussions.

Summary of the BIMI standard implementation

If you have run these steps, make a test and send an email from your brand account to a Gmail account. Ensure that you open that on the Gmail mobile app or with the desktop reading panel activated. If you see your brand logo on that globe in front of your sender name, it’s all ok.

To make sure, use the BIMI validator to see what kind of errors brings up.

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