Google expands support for BIMI: Is it time to dive in?

Google recently rolled out additional support for BIMI through their Gmail.com webmail application and mobile apps.  Since Google is one of the largest Inbox Providers in the world, this should be an exciting step forward for BIMI and for Marketers wanting to reach potential customers.  (For more information on BIMI, click here.)

Google’s Implementation

On Gmail.com and Google mobile applications, users will see a checkmark and BIMI logo next to an opened email as in the image below.  In addition, Google mobile applications will display the logo next to the sender in the Inbox view by the subject line.  BIMI logos should lead to an uptick in Open Rates and Click-through Rates because of additional confidence in the “certified” origins of these emails.

In order to have your logo displayed, Google requires you to:

  1. Setup SPF, DKIM and DMARC
  2. Have a DMARC Policy set to 100% Reject for email failing DMARC
  3. Generate and post a correct BIMI logo
  4. Have a Verified Mark Certificate (VMC)

The first two steps will dramatically improve a sender’s email delivery and email reputation.  Adopting DMARC gives Inbox Providers more assurance that your email is legitimate and not spam, while a strict DMARC policy prevents your email domain from being used in phishing and fraud attacks.  A VMC is designed to protect both Google and your brand by certifying the owner of the logo and domain.  Unfortunately, a VMC costs roughly $1100-$1500 annually per Email Sending Domain, which makes it expensive for many small businesses.

What other Inbox Providers support BIMI?

The BIMI working group has a list of all current Inbox Providers that support BIMI.  The good news is that big, global Inbox Providers like Apple, Yahoo!, and now, Google support BIMI as do several smaller or local providers like Fastmail and LaPoste.  This list appears to be growing.

Unfortunately, consistent logo display is an issue.  Many Inbox Providers only have partial support for BIMI or support different rules for displaying BIMI logos online vs via mobile applications.  In addition, many providers do not support BIMI logos in the Inbox view, where most people make the decision on whether or not to open the email.  This reduces the impact to Open Rates and subsequent downstream effects, like Click-through rates and Sales.  

MxToolbox Expert Take

Increased support for BIMI is a great sign for the technology.  After over four years of moving glacially forward, we’re hopeful that this will increase the pace of BIMI adoption.  To a Marketer, the idea of having your logo proudly displayed next to your verified email in the Inbox both increases the chance of the recipient opening the email and improves the reputation of the brand. 

There are Drawbacks

However, the current level of support does not entirely live up to that promise: few Inbox Providers display the logo in the Inbox where Open Rates will be affected. In addition, the extra expense associated with a Verified Mark Certificate might be considered burdensome for many small businesses, leaving gains to the larger businesses and brands.  While the extra security from a VMC is like that of an SSL certificate for ecommerce, the additional value BIMI provides may not be there for every brand yet.  

There are Alternatives

Finally, both Google and Microsoft already have other ways to display user images or logos in the message view of an individual email.  If the sender is a Google Workspace user, their preferred image will be displayed in the same spot as the BIMI logo.  Microsoft offers Microsoft Business Profile program to create a unique identifier card. Office Web Apps in Office 365 and Outlook.com use the verified icon provided to Microsoft when a company joins the program.  A savvy marketer might be able to get much of the BIMI effect from these alternatives.

MxToolbox Recommendation

Focus on the basics of Email Delivery: Technologies like SPF, DKIM and DMARC, and Best Practices in email list management and content relevance. Once your DMARC configuration is really set, then think about icing the cake with BIMI.  To get started with BIMI, check out our Knowledge Base and free BIMI Lookup tool.

Adopting DMARC and getting DMARC to a strict policy is imperative for good email delivery and adopting BIMI. Get started today with MxToolbox Delivery Center.

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