November 19, 2021
In a crowded landscape, today’s B2B marketers understand that credibility is key. Research shows that business executives respond better to focused, informative content, than emotionally-driven B2C campaigns. According to a survey by strategic communications firm Peppercomm, 75% of global business executives indicate that their primary purpose for seeking content is researching a business idea—while only 16% said it was to support a purchasing decision. The same report found that 85% of executives preferred text to video or audio. Although social media, SEO and other channels are increasingly popular, email remails a powerful avenue to engage pragmatic, information-driven business leaders.
Like consumer audiences, business executives are more likely to respond to brands they recognize and trust. According to another study by Wpromote, 31.25% of B2B marketers were making brand awareness their top priority for 2020. It’s not easy to stand out in a busy marketing environment, but new technologies are emerging that can help B2B leaders make their mark.
Shining a spotlight on brands, cost-effectively
Verified Mark Certificates (VMCs) are digital certificates that help B2B marketers take advantage of the power and equity they have accumulated within their logos, and apply it to unlock more brand impressions in the email inbox. Part of a cooperative initiative with the Brand Indicator Message Identification (BIMI) initiative, VMCs certify the authenticity and ownership needed to display a logo to email recipients right in their inbox—even before the email is opened.
Although digital marketing is a highly economical method to engage audiences, B2B marketing teams remain under constant pressure to do more with less. With VMCs, they can make a big splash with a relatively small investment. They enable organizations to fully leverage two key marketing resources that they have already built up: their existing branding assets and the email distribution lists that they already own and control.
VMCs reinforce the brand integrity that is essential for engaging business leaders. An executive who spots a familiar, trusted logo in her email inbox is more likely to open and review the content and less likely to ignore or delete it. With VMCs, organizations can ensure more authentic, recognizable, unified experience.
Since B2B email channels are generally permission-based, they represent a promising, more fertile environment for campaigns. The result? Higher open rates that lead to a superior payoff for B2B plays. According to initial pilots, verified email improves engagement by 10%.
Enhancing trust and the client experience
The marketing advantages of VMCs and BIMI are compelling, but it’s also important to remember that VMCs were originally developed to strengthen security and trust in for the inbox.
To utilize a VMCs, B2B marketers collaborate with their IT organization to put Domain Based Message Authentication Reporting (DMARC) in place and enforce it. DMARC is an industry standard that was devised to help organizations safeguard their domains from bad actors who might use them to launch cyberattacks like phishing, email spam and spoofing. Establishing DMARC compliance lets email clients use the standard to confirm that email truly originated from the domain in the “Sender” field, rather than an unknown source that could have malicious intent.
By using VMCs secured by DMARC, marketers not only deliver content that resonates, but show their customers that they care about their privacy and are taking proactive steps to help minimize risk. Studies show that 98% of social engineering attacks are delivered via email. VMCs and DMARC-secured emails encourage B2B prospects to immediately associate trust with the sender’s email and logo.
Launching a VMC initiative
It’s clear that VMCs can offer some strong benefits to B2B marketers seeking to strengthen awareness of their organization. According to the Peppercomm survey, 85% of participants said the primary reason for creating content is to build brand and positive perceptions of the company.
Qualifying an organization for a VMC is not a trivial effort; it requires close coordination between marketing and IT teams. The first step is confirming that the organization is DMARC-compliant, which can be a lengthy process—especially for large enterprise companies. To gain a general understanding of the process, blogs are available that can walk through the steps required to set up DMARC and qualify a domain for VMC.
Since the VMC initiative will be a collaborative one, it will be critical to obtain buy-in from leaders and key business stakeholders all across the organization. When building momentum and mindshare for the project, it’s important to point out that VMCs not only have promising potential for marketing, but can also help organizations minimize their own risk. Establishing DMARC compliance helps organizations gain more granular visibility into the messages that are being sent from their domains. It provides insights that can help them protect their own organizations from being used for malicious that could damage their reputation—and negatively impact end customers.
The good news for B2B marketers is that VMCs and BIMI are relatively new. The BIMI Working Group announced general BIMI availability for Gmail in July. For innovative marketers, the time to start planning this game-changing initiative is now.
Mark Packham joined DigiCert in July 2016 and oversees brand strategy, lead gen, thought leadership, content strategy, public relations, digital marketing, and analyst relations. He brings over 20 years of experience as a strategic marketer and global brand manager, having led global marketing engagements with companies like Salesforce.com, Microsoft, Verizon, and Abbott. Packham adds a creative and varied skillset to DigiCert’s management team including marketing strategy, brand development, corporate messaging, and experience design.
Prior to joining DigiCert, Packham was a Partner and co-founder of Contravent, an experience design agency. He also spent nearly 15 years of his career leading client engagements for top-tier global ad agencies including Publicis and McCann WorldGroup. Packham holds a BA in Communications from Brigham Young University.
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