Hot in Email Marketing: Symbol in Subject Lines

Discussion in 'Mail Chat' started by roundabout, Jul 17, 2012.

  1. roundabout

    roundabout VIP

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    What’s Hot in Email Marketing: Symbol in Subject Lines

    By Joanna Roberts
    Return Path Account Manager

    With billions of emails being sent to subscribers on a daily basis, it’s difficult for email marketers to make sure their emails stand out in the crowded inbox. Over the years, email marketers have tried various tactics, like adding the recipient’s name to the subject line or sending fake apology emails, to make subscribers notice and open their emails. Obviously, some of these were more effective than others (please don’t send a fake apology email, so tacky!).

    So what’s the latest trend in making your emails pop? Using symbols in subject lines!

    Have you noticed any of these in your inbox yet? Several well-known marketers, like LivingSocial, Lululemon, Lowes, The Body Shop, and Shoe Dazzle, have been testing out this tactic, and it has certainly made me take notice! Here are some examples of marketers using Unicode symbols in their subject lines:

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    There are many more symbols you can use too, get a full list of Unicode symbols here:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Miscellaneous_Symbols

    There are smiley faces, rain clouds, shamrocks, coffee mugs, musical notes, astrological symbols … the list goes on. Because there are so many choices, it’s important to determine which would work best for your mailings. There are some obvious choices: hearts for Valentine’s Day, shamrocks for St. Patrick’s Day, suns for summer mailings. But try to think outside the box too! Add an umbrella when sending on a rainy day, a coffee (hot cocoa) mug when sending in the winter, or a telephone when your call to action is to call into your company.

    While there are seemingly endless possibilities when using these symbols, it’s also important to not go overboard! If symbols in subject lines are used too much, they will become white noise and won’t make the impact that you’re hoping for. So use them sparingly and make sure each time you use them, it will wow your subscribers and grab their attention.

    It’s also important to note that these Unicode symbols will not work in every email client. In addition, some of the symbols won’t render well on the small screen and will end up looking smushed and unrecognizable. Use a pre-deployment rendering tool, like Return Path’s Campaign Preview, to test your subject line and see how it will render in various different email clients, including mobile devices.

    I have heard some marketers question whether adding symbols to subject lines will affect deliverability. In the research I’ve done so far, I have not seen that to be the case, and all of the examples showcased above were delivered to the inbox versus the junk folder. However, with that being said, I do recommend that you send your campaign into a deliverability tool, like Return Path’s Mailbox Monitor, so that you can monitor your inbox versus junk placement and determine if deliverability is impacted by these Unicode symbols.

    Finally, a good rule of thumb when trying anything new is to run an A/B test first. Start by sending to a small test segment of your list. Fifty percent of that test segment should receive the subject line with the symbol and the other 50% should receive the same subject line without the symbol (and remember to keep all other variables – From line, creative, call-to-action, offer – the same for the most effective test). Allow that test to run, and then compare open/read/click rates. This will allow you to see if including a symbol in the subject line works for your company and subscribers. The winning subject line, with or without the symbol, should then be sent to the remainder of your list.

    So what are you waiting for? Give this latest trend a try with your own mailings! And don’t wait too long … jump on the bandwagon now when seeing a symbol is still a fun, intriguing surprise for subscribers.

    Have you seen any symbols in subject lines of emails you’ve received recently? What did you think, were they effective in gaining your attention? As a marketer, have you sent any emails with symbols in the subject lines, and how was the email performance compared to non-symbol subject lines? I’d love to hear your experiences, please comment below!

    Source:
    http://www.returnpath.net/blog/inth...t-in-email-marketing-symbol-in-subject-lines/
     
  2. VelocitySoftware

    VelocitySoftware Member

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    Interesting wonder how mail filters will classify these symbols since 99% of people do not use those symbols in normal email communication.
    But according to that report big companies are doing such as living social so may be a chance to use them. Would at least make your mail stand out.
     
  3. DKPMO

    DKPMO VIP

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    That's pretty interesting, but the question is whether you have to have some special support for Unicode or can encode these characters through ASCII.

    Has anyone here tried it?
     
  4. JohnFarrell

    JohnFarrell VIP

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    It's unicode and the trick is old as hell.
     
  5. nickphx

    nickphx VIP

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    If you target webmail users then unicode support is handled by the browser. I don't know about outlook/thunderbird or mobile clients.
     
  6. DKPMO

    DKPMO VIP

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    I just got this type of message from Groupon today, here is the code:

    It rendered pretty good in Gmail:

    [​IMG]

    ... and kinda meh in Outlook 2007

    [​IMG]

    Any experience with how well do other email clients handle unicode? I am also curious how would you decode the string above (ideally with a code sample), it appears to be also Base64 encoded, no?
     
  7. DaMadHatter

    DaMadHatter Active Member

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    That is an interesting read. We'll see how this shakes out over time.

    :driver:
     
  8. sjinks

    sjinks VIP

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    This is actually very easy:

    Code:
    echo iconv_mime_encode("Subject", "***9788; Beat the Heat Deals: Half Off Being", array("input-charset" => "utf-8", "output-charset" => "utf-8", "line-length" => 76, "line-break-chars" => "\r\n"))
    
    Code:
    $ php -r 'echo iconv_mime_encode("Subject", "***9788; Beat the Heat Deals: Half Off Being", array("input-charset" => "utf-8", "output-charset" => "utf-8", "line-length" => 76, "line-break-chars" => "\r\n")), "\n";'
    Subject: =?utf-8?B?4pi8IEJlYXQgdGhlIEhlYXQgRGVhbHM6IEhhbGYgT2ZmIEI=?=
     =?utf-8?B?ZWluZw==?=
    
    EDIT: Sorry, misread your post. To decode:

    Code:
    echo iconv_mime_decode("Subject: =?UTF-8?B?4pi8IEJlYXQgdGhlIEhlYXQgRGVhbHM6IEhhbGYgT2ZmIE JlaW5n?=\n=?UTF-8?B?IExlc3MgU3dlYXR5?=", 0, "utf-8");
    
    Code:
    $ php -r 'echo iconv_mime_decode("Subject: =?UTF-8?B?4pi8IEJlYXQgdGhlIEhlYXQgRGVhbHM6IEhhbGYgT2ZmIE JlaW5n?=\n=?UTF-8?B?IExlc3MgU3dlYXR5?=", 0, "utf-8"), "\n";'
    Subject: ***9788; Beat the Heat Deals: Half Off Being
    
    PS: ignore ***9788; - this is what vBulletin substituted for that Unicode character.
     
    Last edited: Jul 19, 2012
  9. DKPMO

    DKPMO VIP

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    Awesome, + rep!

    Do you know what's the right library in Python? I see lots of potentially relevant stuff here (http://docs.python.org/library/email), but curious if there is a shortcut with the ready solution.
     
  10. sjinks

    sjinks VIP

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    I am not an expert in Python but this seems to work:

    Code:
    #
    # -*- coding: utf-8 -*-
    
    from email.message import Message
    from email.header import Header
    from email.header import decode_header
    
    msg = Message()
    h = Header(u'***9788; Beat the Heat Deals: Half Off Being', 'utf-8')
    msg['Subject'] = h
    
    print msg.as_string()
    
    print decode_header('=?utf-8?q?=E2=98=BC_Beat_the_Heat_Deals=3A_Half_Off_Being?=')[0][0];
    print decode_header("=?utf-8?B?4pi8IEJlYXQgdGhlIEhlYXQgRGVhbHM6IEhhbGYgT2ZmIEI=?=\n=?utf-8?B?ZWluZw==?=")[0][0];
    
    
     
  11. DKPMO

    DKPMO VIP

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    Awesome ** 2
     
  12. phdesign

    phdesign Active Member

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    Just for the heck of it, I ran a test campaign with a star &9734; beginning the subject line today. I verified it delivered to a few webmails like Gmail and indeed displayed the star.

    I split tested the list with and without the star on separate campaigns (can't split test within the same campaign on my mailer).

    Interestingly, the opens were .3% higher but the click conversion was lower. Go figure, "trick" more people into opening - catch more eyes, but end up catching the wrong eyes?

    Would have to test further on a variety of campaigns with closer control of the testing to get more accurate results. Anyone else try it out yet?
     
  13. roundabout

    roundabout VIP

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    Can anybody make one subject line that contains like 50 of the coolest characters, then show a printscreen on how they look in Outlook vs. say.. gmail?
     
  14. phdesign

    phdesign Active Member

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    I don't know about cool or Outlook... Attached is an image with screenshots from Gmail and one that landed in my Yahoo bulk box from someone else today. Notice the Yahoo email has characters in the email to replace the C for credit and there were a few others.

    I actually downloaded a creative from a network recently that did this on all the C's in credit. Can't remember which. I was going through the html (always do because many times there is extra junk in the creatives) and saw some weird stuff. Turned out they were just trying to help pass the filters.
     

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  15. mrlucky123

    mrlucky123 Member

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    It looks like it won't work in outlook for some reason no matter how hard I tried, so I guess it's just worked in webmail. Have anyone tried on the smartphone?
     
  16. phdesign

    phdesign Active Member

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    I was thinking about this topic today. Apparently Delta Airlines reads this thread as they had a Jet leading off the subject line in today's hot deals email. Very fitting for them.

    In addition, my local newspaper deals also had a black star leading off their subject line today. Pretty soon everyone will be using the symbols and not having them will be unique.
     

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