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The future of email: BIMI & AMP

Kate Nowrouzi
5 min read
featured

Email is always evolving. That keeps email marketers on their toes, especially if they want to implement the latest tactics and technology. Two of the most-talked-about email marketing trends of recent years are Brand Indicators for Message Identification (BIMI) and AMP for Email.

BIMI is an emerging email authentication protocol. It works alongside a sender’s DMARC policy to show verified logos next to messages in the inboxes of supporting mailbox providers. BIMI gives brands more control over how logos in email applications are displayed, and it is meant to help stop brand spoofing.

AMP for Email is part of the open-source AMP framework. It helps marketers add interactivity to their campaigns. That includes form filling, surveys, buttons to make purchases, and different types of dynamic content. It often allows subscribers to take action within an email - without even visiting a website.

We explored AMP and BIMI during an exclusive talk as part of Emailstock, Pathwire’s virtual conference. On the surface, these two trends appear quite different. However, they do have a few things in common.

  1. Both are connected to Gmail and Yahoo!

  2. Both can help marketers create a more immersive email experience.

  3. Both have requirements around email authentication.

Still, the question is, are these initiatives your email team should be pursuing? Let’s take a look at some of the pros and cons and determine if BIMI and AMP for Email make sense for your brand’s email program.

The basics of BIMI

Email spoofing is a type of phishing in which scammers try to impersonate brands. This exploits the trust you’ve built among customers and subscribers. Smart email marketers use email authentication protocols (SPF, DKIM, DMARC). These specifications help mailbox providers differentiate legitimate messages from forged emails. DMARC also informs receiving mail servers how to handle emails that fail authentication.

BIMI is like the icing on the cake. If you have a DMARC policy that is set to either p=quarantine or p=reject, a BIMI record on your DNS provides email clients with an approved logo file, which displays next to authenticated messages.

In July 2021, after a year-long BIMI pilot program, Google announced it would officially support BIMI logos in Gmail. That makes the protocol much more interesting to brands who were initially on the fence about BIMI.

The benefits of BIMI

Here’s why brands are working to get DMARC in place so they can take advantage of BIMI.

1. BIMI provides visual proof of authenticity

As people grow accustomed to seeing brand logos in their inboxes, they’ll also learn to look for logos before opening or engaging with an email. It’s much easier for the typical subscriber to spot an official logo as opposed to closely examining the email header for the proper sending domain.

2. BIMI protects brand reputation

While you’re not the one doing the scamming, it’s easy for customers to get frustrated with brands that are impersonated in phishing attacks. When subscribers are tricked, they may see your brand as partly to blame. And they’re not completely wrong. Email marketers can do something to help prevent email spoofing, so we should.

3. BIMI leads to better branding

BIMI logos enhance the email experience. More brand impressions support better brand recognition and boost brand recall. If you choose to be an early adopter of BIMI, it could also help you stand out from the competition in the inbox.

4. BIMI could improve email engagement

Time will tell how much brand logos impact things such as open rates. However, some user experience studies around BIMI suggest positive results. Marcel Becker of Yahoo! claims these studies showed people are more likely to engage with emails that are coupled with brand logos. So, improved metrics could be a beneficial side-effect of BIMI implementation.

BIMI challenges

There are a few reasons why you may choose not to pursue BIMI at this time.

1. Limited client support

Up until this year, the only email clients that supported BIMI were Australia’s Fastmail as well as Yahoo! and Verizon Media email services. However, now that Gmail is moving forward with support, it seems more likely that BIMI will become a widely-used standard.

2. Technical difficulties

Aligning all of your email authentication protocols isn’t always easy. Depending on your organization, it may be difficult to access or publish DNS records. Creating an acceptable BIMI logo also tends to cause issues. Other email marketers have concerns that a strict DMARC enforcement policy might hurt deliverability. In reality, strong email authentication methods support your sender reputation, which will only improve deliverability.

3. Sending volume requirements

Some email clients, such as Yahoo Mail, will only display a BIMI logo if the brand qualifies as a bulk sender. So, at least at this point, you may need a higher-than-average sending volume in order to get your BIMI logo to display. In a BIMI AMA with Email on Acid, Marcel Becker of Yahoo! Explained that there’s no defined volume to qualify for BIMI. Rather, it’s a factor included in an algorithm.

4. Cost

BIMI implementation will require some time and resources, perhaps too much for some smaller brands. BIMI logos also must be trademarked. To comply with Google’s BIMI requirement there is an additional hurdle - confirming logo ownership with a Verified Mark Certificate (VMC). As of this writing, there are two companies providing VMCs and they come with a price tag of around $1,000 per year.

The basics of AMP for Email

AMP for Email is part of the larger AMP framework, the latter of which has been around since 2015. AMP originally stood for Accelerated Mobile Pages. AMP uses standard HTML along with web components like Javascript, and AMP emails use a subset of those features.

Google says AMP can help modernize the email experience by creating a standardized way to add things such as carousels, accordions, and actionable elements into email marketing campaigns.

The benefits of AMP for Email

Here’s why marketers choose to develop AMP emails.

1. Ideal for e-commerce email strategy

Many AMP email components have the power to enhance email marketing for e-commerce companies. For example, when a consumer opens an email, dynamic email content from online stores can be automatically updated with info on product availability, price, or the time remaining in a promotional event.

AMP emails can also deliver a personalized shopping experience, replicating a product page within the email and offering the option to add items to a cart. It’s almost like a customer journey shortcut. Find out more about how AMP emails benefit e-commerce.

2. Potential for better conversion rates

Partly because there are fewer clicks between receiving a marketing email and making a purchase decision, it appears that AMP emails may increase conversion rates.

The team at Mailmodo tested this hypothesis and wrote about HTML vs. AMP emails on the Email on Acid blog. One test found subscribers were more likely to fill out surveys in AMP emails. Another showed job applicants were more likely to take a quiz, and a third test showed an increase in form fills.

“For HTML emails, the form submission rate was 0.4% and for AMP emails it was 3.7%. This was more than an 8X increase in conversions.”

3.  Email client consistency

Getting campaigns to display consistently across email clients has always been a challenge. It’s possible that AMP for Email could create a way to develop interactive emails that render the same way across clients and devices. Of course, that hinges on whether AMP emails get wide enough support. 

AMP for Email challenges

There are also a few roadblocks that brands debating AMP for Email should consider.

1. Limited email client support

While AMP emails have been a possibility since 2019, adoption has been slow. At this point, only Gmail and Yahoo Mail are able to receive AMP emails (deployed). That means, if you do develop AMP emails, you’ll need to develop a fallback for other clients too. It may also be wise to segment your lists based on different email clients so you can provide the right experience.

2. Experience needed

Developing AMP emails is going to require coding knowledge. If you don’t have someone on your team with the right skills, there may be easier ways to add interactive elements into your emails. There are a variety of solutions that provide more of a WYSIWYG interface for creating this kind of content and other options for dynamically updating content.

3.  Email authentication 

In order to have AMP emails display, you’ll also need to implement DomainKeys Identified Mail (DKIM) and the email must pass DKIM authentication. Google made this a security requirement. Google also highly recommends, but does not currently require, DMARC with an enforcement policy set to quarantine or reject. 

Beyond AMP and BIMI, there are plenty of good reasons to have a strong DMARC policy. Find out more about how DMARC protects brand reputation.

Are BIMI and AMP right for you?

Organizations that need strong email authentication to protect their brand and their customers should certainly consider implementing DMARC so they can take advantage of BIMI. Companies that could drive sales and engagement with interactive email experiences should take a close look at AMP.

Whatever your strategy may be, Pathwire is prepared to partner with you and make your email programs stronger than ever. From trusted email APIs and a variety of email marketing solutions to our deliverability apps and services, find out how we help you create connected experiences.

Tags: BIMIAMP

Last updated on September 08, 2021

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