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Email Deliverability Quarterly: Gmail Launches BIMI Pilot, DigiCert-Valimail Partnership, and More

By Chad S. White

Email deliverability is constantly changing, as inbox providers adjust their filtering algorithms, blacklists tweak their listing criteria, and consumers evolve their definition of spam. That’s why even the best email marketing programs suffer deliverability problems sometimes.

To help you avoid trouble, the Email Deliverability Services team at Oracle CX Marketing Consulting shares the latest news and tips for what to watch out for. Here’s what’s going on at key inbox providers and what it means for email marketers:

Gmail launches BIMI pilot

Google has launched a Gmail pilot for Brand Indicators for Message Identification, or BIMI (pronounced Bih-mee). Leveraging authentication protocols SPF and DKIM, as well as DMARC, BIMI is a new standard that allows compliant brands to have their chosen logo displayed next to their sender name in the inbox.

“BIMI gives you free ad impressions for every email you send because of your logo displaying,” says Daniel Deneweth, Head of Email Deliverability Services at Oracle CX Marketing Consulting. “Implementing it for your email program not only gives you branding control, it also helps keep email safe through reinforcement of proper email authentication, since that’s a requirement for BIMI.”

While Gmail’s BIMI pilot is currently limited to a few select brands, it will make BIMI available to all senders in the future.

What this means for marketers:

“Gmail and other inbox providers have indicated that while your logo may be showing up in their mobile apps now, they might not later unless you’ve implemented BIMI,” says Heather Goff, Strategic Director of Email Deliverability Services at Oracle CX Marketing Consulting. “So, it makes sense to get this in place now and ahead of the rush.”

She adds, “Keep in mind that Gmail’s implementation of BIMI requires marketers to jump through a few more hoops than Yahoo’s implementation. For instance, Gmail requires that companies authenticate their top-level domain and get Verified Mark Certificates, which requires a trademarked logo with certain formatting requirements. Getting the properly formatted and trademarked logo, as well as certificates in place, can sometimes add time and effort to the process for brands.”

BIMI gets a boost with DigiCert-Valimail partnership

DigiCert and Valimail have announced a partnership to help companies shorten the time it takes them to meet the requirements of Brand Indicators for Message Identification (BIMI). That includes helping companies secure Verified Mark Certificates, which Gmail requires as part of their BIMI certification process.

What this means for marketers:

“Verified Mark Certificates provide a way of certifying that a brand image is unique to a brand,” says Brian Sullivan, Strategy Director of Email Deliverability Services at Oracle CX Marketing Consulting. “Only trademarked images can be certified with a VMC, and only a brand can procure a VMC for their image. VMCs for BIMI are optional at Verizon Media Group domains (Yahoo.com, Aol.com, and Verizon.net), but are required in Gmail’s BIMI pilot. Requiring a VMC for BIMI enhances brand confidence among users and in Gmail’s spam filters.”

As mentioned earlier, getting a VMC adds time and effort to BIMI adoption, which is why the DigiCert-Valimail partnership is notable, says Clea Moore, Director of Deliverability Strategy at Oracle CX Marketing Consulting.

“This partnership will be extremely valuable for senders because the Verified Mark Certificate is a relatively new standard and comes with a bit of a learning curve since many brands don’t have the proper trademark registration in place for the logo image they want displayed using BIMI,” she says. “Also, while Gmail is currently the only inbox provider requiring VMCs, it’s likely that other ISPs will eventually follow in their footsteps and require them for BIMI participation.”

Final text of CCPA approved

In August, the State of California finalized the text of the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA). Affecting all companies that market to or hold data about Californians, the law was signed into law on June 28, 2018, went into effect on January 1, 2020, and went into enforcement on July 1, 2020.

What this means for marketers:

“California continues to be at the forefront of consumer data privacy in the United States,” says Sullivan. “The final regulations have some significant revisions from the original rules, but still impose significant burdens on companies to protect consumer data. The regulations go into immediate effect, so marketers should be aware of and comply with the law.”

The two most significant changes, says Goff, were removing the “Do Not Sell My Info” option and the requirement for businesses to offer extensive offline interactions to facilitate consumer awareness of their right to opt-out. Those changes will make compliance easier and cheaper for businesses.

But it’s not just California privacy rules that brands need to keep track of anymore, adds Goff. “Other states like Nevada, Texas, New York, and Massachusetts have either amended their privacy law or are considering privacy bills as well,” she says. “So, working toward compliance and designing your digital programs with privacy in mind is critical.”

Gmail launches Postmaster API

Google has launched a beta of a Gmail Postmaster API tool. Senders and email service providers rely on this critical information from Gmail, and have been asking for API access.

What this means for marketers:

“Until this release, Gmail Postmaster Tools users could only see Google’s representation of the sender reputation within Google’s online portal,” says Sullivan. “With the new API, users will be able to export data on their IP and domain reputation, spam complaints, delivery errors, and more for use outside Google Postmaster Tools. Our Email Deliverability Services team is excited to correlate Gmail’s data with our platform data for a more holistic view of sender reputation.”

Internet Giant J2 Global acquires Kickbox

Email verification firm Kickbox has been acquired by J2 Global. The acquisition came shortly after Kickbox announced the launch of a new Email Deliverability Suite.

J2 Global, which provides internet services through its Business Cloud Services and Digital Media divisions, has been on a buying spree during 2020. Kickbox is its fourth acquisition this year. The company is also the owner of the email automation company Campaigner.

What this means for marketers:

“Following on recent acquisitions of deliverability companies including Edatasource, Return Path, and 250ok, the Kickbox acquisition underscores the value of email deliverability solutions in the current digital marketing ecosystem,” says Deneweth.

Want more email deliverability news and what it means for your company? Check out some of our other Email Deliverability Quarterly posts:

  • Email Deliverability Quarterly: CCPA Now Being Enforced, Coronavirus’ Deliverability Impact, and More

  • Email Deliverability Quarterly: ISP Performance Feeds, Validity Acquires 250ok, and More

  • Email Deliverability Quarterly: 1st GDPR Fine, Google Supports BIMI, and More

  • Email Deliverability Quarterly: Return Path Acquired, CCPA Update, Yahoo-AOL Merged, and More

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Need help with your email deliverability? Oracle CX Marketing Consulting has more than 500 of the leading marketing minds ready to help you achieve more with the leading marketing cloud, including an Email Deliverability Services team.

Learn more or reach out to us at CXMconsulting_ww@oracle.com

For more information about email marketing, check out:

  • Oracle Eloqua
  • Oracle Responsys
  • Oracle CX Marketing

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