Email marketing is constantly evolving in order to keep building trust and ensure that your clients and customers enjoy that invaluable rapport that keeps them locked into your repeat business ecosystem.
It’s here that the development of BIMI – your Brand Indicator for Message Identification – is certain to prove one of your most valuable email marketing assets.
Understanding a brand indicator for message identification
The truth is that email marketing has enjoyed a huge uptake in trust and efficacy with the advent of BIMI technology. In fact, you’ve likely seen BIMI identificators in use in your own personal or business email inboxes.
Put simply, a brand indicator for message identification is a blanket fix-all solution that ensures emails from a certain organization are represented with their logo and stylization in an at-a-glance visual avatar.
This avatar image, often circular in shape, appears next to emails in the recipient’s inbox. That means you’re still free to set up catchy titles, headlines and appealing introductory text for the people getting your marketing emails – but also that they can see, thanks to your BIMI, who you are right away.
Effective branding at scale is always a good thing, but the true advantages of using a BIMI are more than just the joy of reaching out with your company logo and livery. As we’ll explore, there are plenty more reasons why you should use a brand indicator for message identification system in your email marketing strategy.
Why use BIMI for your email marketing?
Although setting up BIMI for your email marketing campaigns might feel like a simple cosmetic flourish, its true potential actually goes a fair bit deeper than that.
There are several reasons why a brand indicator for message identification system can enhance your email marketing – and with it, your conversion, loyalty and outreach rates.
Here’s just a handful of reasons to set up a BIMI system in your email marketing.
Your BIMI helps promote cybersecurity
While every business does their part to optimize cybersecurity across the board, it’s a challenging part of keeping any company growing.
One mistake is all it takes to suffer pretty unkind consequences, and in many instances customers who’ve suffered ramifications for data breaches are able to pursue legal challenges against you if they choose to.
Yet sometimes ineffective cybersecurity isn’t actually your fault, no matter how old or new your business may be. Through no fault of their own, customers can take action that leaves your business picking up the pieces, all while they play into cyber criminals’ hands.
Think phishing, misuses of data, sharing personal information accidentally and so forth.
Cyber criminals are capable of impersonating companies’ emails with increasing sophistication. Yet when you set up your BIMI, you take a step towards firming up the handshake between you and your customers alone – because only your company can set up your specific BIMI logo graphic.
Your BIMI helps foster trust
Customers are becoming ever more wary of how their data is accessed, stored, used and – sadly – often abused by so many organizations today. That means creating trust in marketing is becoming ever more challenging and competitive.
Luckily, email marketing already puts you a step ahead of the curve. Oftentimes, in order to have their email address in your database in the first place, you and the customer must have interacted in some way – so some trust already exists.
Yet a brand indicator for message identification can take that trust even further. Remember, this is the imagery only your company’s BIMI can use, and logos are powerful things.
Any fan of your products and services is sure to let their gaze linger longer on your BIMI logo, in even the most crowded of email inboxes. Knowing you’re reaching out before they even read any of your copy – or even your email address – makes a powerful split-second connection.
That split second is often all it takes to get the click, convert the customer and win more business.
Your BIMI helps you stand apart
Expanding logically on the two points we’ve already discussed, your BIMI is a powerful addition to your email marketing strategy simply because it’s so visually distinctive.
We have left behind the age in which getting an email was an unexpected and rare treat many decades ago now. The average business or customer receives hundreds of emails from dozens of sources every day – far too many for them to ever realistically read, or even engage with.
Just as online marketing demands SEO optimization and content production best practices to stand apart on the World Wide Web, so too does your BIMI instantly mark your organization’s identity to your emailed customer base.
Knowing at a glance when a brand they love, identify with and value the communications of has contacted them helps solidify the rapport you share with your email marketing targets.
No matter how cluttered their inbox or how pressed they are for time, those readers who see your logo standing out among countless emails are far more likely to head straight to your message before any others.
As far as marketing tools for cutting through distractions go, there are few more striking and incisive than a smartly implemented BIMI system. With that in mind, what are the next steps to consider?
How versatile can your BIMI be?
There’s more to successful utilization of a brand indicator for message identification than simply letting your logo do all the talking. In fact, proper BIMI use actually helps to optimize the email experience both for your business and for end users and email recipients.
You’re able to set up and manage your logos to a growing number of users whose email service providers have enabled DMARC protocol integrations. In other words, email service providers are collaborating with BIMI and DMARC solutions on everyone’s behalf.
That means less legwork for you as a business owner or marketer, but also less chance of mishaps and mistakes to be made using third party email logo platforms or other less secure methods of conveying your logos to your customers via email.
While email providers themselves have often done their best to adopt and promote company logos to help businesses out, the lack of uniformity – as well as less control in the hands of businesses whose logos were being used – was often a source of frustration for plenty of involved parties.
Less risk for both businesses and customers is only ever a good thing, and widespread DMARC adoption also means you’re able to take a ‘set it and forget it’ approach to your BIMI implementation if this is more suitable to the needs of your organization.
As we’ve discussed, the goals here are to promote and lock in trust, security and an open relationship between organizations and their customers – all while email service providers do their part to keep messages efficient and effective too.
What should you do to prepare to implement your BIMI?
Although we have established that creating and utilizing your BIMI is a good idea, there are a few things it’s best to consider and prepare for ahead of time. This can lean towards the more technical side of things in some respects, but it’s nothing too taxing overall – and help is always at hand if you need it.
Naturally, a big element of creating your brand indicator for message identification is preparing your imagery – or in other words, your logo. That’s what it’s all about, after all – but creating a BIMI for email use means taking a few considerations to mind in terms of file formatting and the like.
A BIMI image file needs to be a square – even if some email providers will display your logo to your customers in a circular or beveled frame. The image ought not include any animation, nor have any interactive or scripted elements within its programming overall.
Most importantly, the logo image for your BIMI graphic needs to be saved as an .SVG file – a Scaled Vector Graphics image. Vector graphics are used because they’re coded in a way unlike many other kinds of imagery used in computing, and use mathematics to scale up and down without getting blurry and pixelated as a result.
It’s clever stuff, but it does mean you need to ensure you keep your logo compliant with .SVG file best practices when setting up your brand indicator for message identification. Unfortunately, mistakes made during this process could see a logo you submit to the protocol being rejected or misused.
What to remember for BIMI .SVG file structure
The most technical aspect of creating your BIMI is often down to ensuring your .SVG image file is perfectly formatted for effective use. Keep these tips in mind, and you should be able to breeze through the process without too many hurdles.
Keep the file size small
One advantage of using this file format in BIMI imagery all over the internet is that the file size is small – vital in making sure your logo is seen even by email users with limited data or bandwidth.
However, ensure that your BIMI .SVG image file isn’t larger than 32 kilobytes in size. Exceed that amount, and it unfortunately won’t work.
Avoid transparent image backgrounds
Any graphic designer will tell you that the power to add transparent layers, or clear backgrounds for logo graphics, can create some pretty cool effects in helping your branding stand out.
However, when creating your brand indicator for message identification vector image, it’s vital to avoid using transparency, especially in the background of the image.
Your logo could risk appearing distorted or incorrectly to customers using certain email service provider platforms if transparency is used. In all cases, a solid background color is recommended instead.
Keep your logo in the center
Different email service providers display your BIMI image alongside the messages you send out in different ways. Some use rounded graphics, some use the square format that you will have created your .SVG file in, and others use rounded frames for a beveled appearance.
If the logo graphic itself isn’t centered nicely in your BIMI image file, elements of your branding might get cut off or obscured when the email is delivered to some of your customers.
Not only does that make you look unprofessional – despite it not being your fault! – but it could lead some customers to mistakenly believe an amateur is impersonating your business to try and phish in their email inbox.
Include your company name in the < title >
The file structure of your .SVG image for your brand indicator for message identification ought to include the name of your company in the < title > element. This helps avoid plenty of confusion for plenty of people.
Although it aids clarity enormously, you might be interested to discover this isn’t a hard and fast rule – more of a best practice. However, given it’s such a strong recommendation for effective BIMI use, we’d certainly advise using your < title > for your company name – it’s just good marketing sense.
Overall, crafting your logo imagery for BIMI use can feel a tad daunting – but it doesn’t have to be a challenge. Detailed advice can help break down the technicalities and keep you moving through the process.
The steps to a successful BIMI setup
With knowledge of both best practices and strategic marketing advantages now under your belt, all that remains is to get to work implementing your brand indicator for message identification.
At the broadest level, this process has been broken down into four distinct steps for BIMI implementation, which we will explore in more detail below.
Authenticate your company’s emails with DKIM, DMARC and SPF
Because your BIMI is as much about promoting security online as it is about effective marketing and building customer trust, it’s absolutely vital your organization has authenticated its emails appropriately.
While we have already touched on the importance of authenticating your emails for DMARC, it’s also crucial for successful BIMI implementation that you have DKIM and SPF authentication active.
Ensuring these are all set up, fully aligned and working perfectly can get technical, but is smooth and convenient once it’s all sorted out.
Ensure your .SVG Tiny PS file is ready
As we’ve discussed, the image file being used as a brand indicator for message identification purposes needs to be perfect. Remember, it’s not just to meet the technical needs of how BIMI icons work, but also to make sure you’re representing your business in the best way in all your marketing emails.
Keep it below 32 kilobytes in file size, ensure there’s no transparency or animation in the image itself, and definitely make sure your logo is centralized nicely in the vector graphic.
If you’re finding it tricky knowing how to best create an .SVG image file – or need to convert another type of image file into one – there are some tools and resources available to help.
Get a Verified Mark Certificate for your company logo image
Because a BIMI image is used to help establish trust and transparency between your company and your customer base, you can use a Verified Mark Certificate (VMC) to add official legitimacy to your logo.
This guarantees to everyone who sees it that you and you alone are the holder of that brand logo, and that therefore any emails received from any addresses using that BIMI image with VMC accreditation is 100% legitimate.
In terms of building trust and staying secure, it’s a fantastic step to take – yet interestingly, it’s not a mandatory one.
Of course, we highly recommend doing so anyway, as the entire goal here is to really lock in the trustworthiness of your marketing messages.
BIMI protocols support major VMC platforms such as Entrust DataCard and DigiCert.
Get your BIMI record published for your domain in DNS
The finishing touch on your BIMI logo setup is making sure you have your BIMI record published for your domain in DNS. The technical coding for this is advised as follows:
default._bimi.[domain] IN TXT “v=BIMI1; l=[SVG URL]; a=[PEM URL]
You can use the BIMI Inspector tool online to register or check your BIMI record. Keep this in mind if you need to make any other changes later on.
Remember – help is always at hand if you need it.
Email marketing is going from strength to strength, and a big reason for that is that it’s the only direct way to connect you and your customers – without the hassle of algorithms, SEO and ever-changing marketing best practices and regulations.
But staying a step ahead isn’t something you need to do alone, either. When you need a touch of extra expertise to keep your email marketing sharp and incisive, look no further – help is at hand to make sure you’re getting clicks, conversions and customers aplenty.