bimi
06 October 2023

Why and how to get BIMI and Gmail’s blue verified checkmark: Stripo experience

Alina Samulska-Kholina
Alina Samulska-Kholina Copywriter at Stripo
Table of contents
  1. What is BIMI?
  2. Why do brands need BIMI, and what benefits do they get?
  3. What challenges await you when using BIMI
  4. What steps do you need to take to get BIMI and Gmail’s blue verified checkmark?
  5. Stripo’s experience in getting BIMI and Gmail’s blue checkmark
  6. The results of using BIMI
  7. How did email marketing rates change after BIMI and the blue tick were adopted by Stripo?
  8. Wrapping up
1.
What is BIMI?

BIMI and blue tick are recommended by market experts, and I believe this trend will become a mandatory practice over time as it creates a safe email space for all of us.

Dmitry Kudrenko

Dmitry Kudrenko,

Stripo’s CEO.

In September 2023, Stripo received BIMI and Gmail’s blue verified checkmark, which means that now, all emails sent from the “stripo.email” domain will contain the brand logo and a blue checkmark.

This is what it looks like when you open the email from a verified brand:

Example of email with BIMI and Gmail blue checkmark

Everyone insists that it is necessary. According to the Oracle trends report, more and more companies are implementing it, but whether it is really worth it is not yet completely clear. We will give the “base” on this issue and our personal attitude and experience.

In this article, which includes insights from Stripo’s experience, learn about BIMI, its benefits for your brand, and how to obtain a Gmail blue checkmark.

What is BIMI?

BIMI (Brand Indicators for Message Identification) is a standard for increasing the security of incoming email messages. It appeared in 2021 as a response to phishing, spoofing, and fraudulent emails and aims to make the email space safer for recipients.

Companies identified by email services can display their logos in messages next to the sender’s name. BIMI verifies that the email is actually from the sender it claims to be from. The BIMI protocol is supported by Google, Yahoo!, Fastmail, Proofpoint, Twilio, Valimail, and ESPs such as Mailchimp, SendGrid, and others.

In May 2023, Google announced an additional authenticator for email senders—a blue checkmark. This Gmail “Verified” checkmark means the Google account has verified the sender’s identity.

Stripo received BIMI on September 20, 2021, and Gmail’s verified checkmarks were retrieved and installed on September 6, 2023.

Why do brands need BIMI, and what benefits do they get?

It is crucial to use BIMI for companies in industries that are most susceptible to brand spoofing via email, such as financial institutions, government companies (with a .gov domain), social media companies, and large eCommerce brands.

The audience remembers a logo better the more they interact with it. Since its appearance on Twitter in 2016 and on other social media platforms, the blue checkmark has become a sign of a verified account that belongs to the person whose name is indicated.

This is precisely how it works with email.

Key benefits that companies using BIMI receive:

  • showing concern for subscribers: You help them identify authenticated messages from your company, distinguishing them from fraudulent emails;
  • brand visibility: Your emails stand out in the recipient’s inbox and become noticeable; in addition, your logo next to your name increases brand awareness;
  • deliverability: BIMI can indirectly affect deliverability, as it improves the sender’s reputation, increases open rates, and signals to mail services that your emails shouldn’t end up in the spam folder.

Examples of emails with BIMI in the inbox

In general, you may want to see the impact of introducing BIMI on the change in email conversion or open rates. By using additional authenticators like BIMI and the blue checkmark, we make the email marketing space safer and more trustworthy for our subscribers.

If you care about email security, DMARC authentication and getting the BIMI logo are two brilliant steps. That said, if you don’t have Basic Authentication (SPF and DKIM), you’ll need to start with that.

What challenges await you when using BIMI

It is worth mentioning that the challenges of implementing BIMI are often associated with the fact that this standard is not yet final and can be changed and improved.

Additionally, it differs in implementation:

  • Google requires VMC and shows an additional confirmation mark — a blue tick;
  • other email clients do not require VMC but display the logo;
  • Microsoft, among others, does not support BIMI.

These differences make it difficult to communicate effectively with your audience.

What steps do you need to take to get BIMI and Gmail’s blue verified checkmark?

Obtaining BIMI and Gmail’s verified checkmark is a long journey in which every step is important.

Preliminary stage

Before you get started with getting the BIMI and the blue checkmark, ensure you have taken the following steps:

  1. Configured security protocols DKIM and SPF in addition to setting up a DMARC policy and ensuring that the policy is enforced (“p=quarantine” or “p=reject”).
  2. Registered a trademark with all variants of your logo—this step is mandatory.

Important advice: Add as many logos as possible to your trademark because only one of the logos registered in the trademark can be used for BIMI.

Get your VMC 

VMC (Verified Mark Certificate) is a digital certificate to confirm the authenticity of the logo and the fact that you are its owner. You need to contact a mark verification organization with an already registered trademark to obtain such a certificate. Be ready to verify the authenticity of your company thoroughly.

Two organizations are currently authorized to provide VMC: Digicert and Entrust Datacard. You should know that VMC may cost between $900 and $1,000 in the first year.

Implement BIMI 

To do this, you will need to take the following steps:

1. Create and upload a brand logo SVG file to your public web server via HTTPS. The file size must be no larger than 32KB and be square in shape. The background cannot be transparent, and a solid color is recommended.

2. Add a TXT record for BIMI to your domain registrar.

How to use BIMI Generator

(Source: BIMI group)

3. Once implemented, you can check existing BIMI information using the BIMI Inspector and Generator tool. For example, here's what the records for our stripo.email:

Example of BIMI audit report

(Source: BIMI group)

Complete advanced verification to receive a blue checkmark

You can receive the blue tick if you have completed all the prerequisites: getting VMC and implementing BIMI.

Comply with requirements and monitor changes

After you have received the Gmail blue checkmark, it is critical that your emails continue to comply with BIMI, DMARC, and other protocols. To do this, monitor and update your authentication settings to ensure ongoing verification and protection against spoofing, and keep an eye on Gmail updates that may affect your status.

Stripo’s experience in getting BIMI and Gmail’s blue checkmark

When Gmail first introduced its blue checkmark, we debated its necessity for us. We aren’t a financial institution, so there’s less concern about the potential forgery of our emails.

The main advantage of the existence of BIMI is that it motivates companies to finally get things right just for the sake of getting things right. In the case of AMP, it is necessary to improve the effectiveness of the email by adding interactivity to it.

The basic idea is that it would be great if more special functionality were available to those who have all the settings right. This would encourage more companies to add them. For some reason, it seems to us that those who buy BIMI already have the correct SPF/DKIM/DMARC.

So, BIMI is a quickly available indicator that you have everything set up correctly, but you have to pay for it.

However, our motivation to adopt BIMI in 2021 and secure Gmail’s blue checkmark by 2023 stemmed from other reasons:

  1. We consistently monitor email marketing trends and strive to incorporate them into our communications. As noted earlier, we anticipate that this trend—adopting BIMI and a checkmark—will become essential to establish a secure email environment for everyone, much like the shift to HTTPS in the past.
  2. Many companies are discussing it currently, and we were eager to understand it firsthand from our own experience.
  3. We want our emails to be trusted, so we need to treat them with respect.

Prerequisites using BIMI

When we at Stripo made the decision to obtain a BIMI and a blue checkmark, there were the following prerequisites:

  • there are mandatory requirements for everyone, which are of enormous importance—protocols SPF, DKIM, and DMARC;
  • we configured the logo for BIMI 2 years ago and fulfilled all the conditions. We only needed to receive the certificate;
  • we’d already tried a bunch of different ways to make our logo appear in emails, such as adding avatars to Gmail, Yahoo Mail, and Outlook.

Process of confirmation by DigiCert   

For Stripo, it went like this. After confirming that all our protocols complied, the trademark and logos were registered, we went through the verification process by DigiCert:

  • we submitted our order and all documents;
  • we stuck to all recommendations;
  • we received a phone call confirming who is answering the phone;
  • our CEO attended a Zoom call with DigiCert representative — Dmitry had to show his passport and take the actions requested to exclude deep fakes on our side.

How to get a Verified Mark Certificate

After getting VMC Certificate, we can create a DNS record that would point to DigiCert files and finish the process of approving BIMI. 

Link to VMC Certificate

Among the unexpected moments of the process, we note the following:

  • there was a very thorough check of all the data of the application, communication by phone and Zoom, elements of conspiracy, and movements of hands and feet;
  • we were not allowed to use the logo exclusively with a picture, as we wanted to provide, but only the logo with the name as registered in the trademark. This upset us because you definitely cannot complete rebranding quickly;

This logo we wanted to use for BIMI:

New Stripo logo example

This one they let us use because it’s registered as a trademark:

Registered Stripo logo

  • all emails from employees’ corporate email addresses received our logo (before, there were photos), which was also a surprise that we did not expect.

How did the email look like before Gmail’s blue checkmark

(Before Gmail’s blue checkmark)

How did the email look like after BIMI and Gmail’s blue checkmark 

(With BIMI and Gmail’s blue checkmark)

Because we already had BIMI, it took about ten days to get the VMC Certificate the blue tick. And now, all Stripo team emails on the “stripo.email” domain have a blue checkmark. This is cool and ensures trust.

Important note: Getting BIMI and Gmail’s blue checkmark will cost you money and take much time to review and implement, so ensure it’s crucial to your company.

The results of using BIMI

According to data presented at the conference Martech Fest 2023, the implementation of a logo as an avatar and a Gmail blue checkmark, which increases trust, resulted in a boost in open rates across different BIMI-supported email providers:

  • Hotmail.com — 20.32%;
  • Gmail.com — 44.09%;
  • Live.ni — 19.48%;
  • Msn.com — 17.25%;
  • Yahoo.com — 41.04%;
  • Average all domains — 29.34%.

How did email marketing rates change after BIMI and the blue tick were adopted by Stripo?

It is impossible to measure the split testing of email opening indicators, so we can only compare by periods.

In September 2023, the open rate compared to August 2023 increased for promo emails by 2% and for welcome emails by 2.4%. This could be affected by the seasonality.

We cannot compare this year’s results to 2022, as we changed the approach to our email marketing in 2023.

Our conclusion: There has been a slight increase in open rate and conversion. However, we cannot claim that the indicators have increased precisely due to receiving the Gmail blue checkmark.

We have never had any particular problems with deliverability and hitting spam, so the indicators here have not changed much either.

Wrapping up

Implementing BIMI and obtaining a VMC and the Gmail blue tick are important steps to protect your brand from counterfeiting and your recipients from cybercriminal scams. In addition, the blue checkmark has long been a symbol of legitimacy and reliability in recipients’ eyes, which is difficult to ignore.

This builds trust among customers and prospects, increasing engagement and positive interactions. In addition, the checkmark increases brand affinity, attracting loyal fans and distinguishing one brand from another.

We hope Stripo’s experience will help you decide and get BIMI and the blue tick.

Build emails that will delight your subscribers with Stripo
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