In the age of smartphones, text messaging and general digital overload, getting people to open your emails has never been more problematic. While that’s true for personal emails to friends, it’s obviously even more the case for marketers. Unlike the mail piece that can entice with color, images, font size and format, email’s fate rests almost entirely on that measly subject line … those 10 to 50 characters that vie for the prospect’s attention.
Therefore, it’s not surprising that marketers are now resorting to new symbols like stars (★) and hearts (♡) in order to get the public’s attention. Our fundraising friends at Blackbaud recently wrote about this phenomenon. The author, Robyn Mendez, reported that her colleagues believed the usage of such symbols increased the chance that the email message would get trapped by the prospect’s spam filter, but also that she “frequently received subject lines with symbols and in recent months I was receiving them more frequently from a wider variety of commercial emailers. Interestingly enough, there were no emails with symbols from other non-profits or events.”
Mendez continues, “This got me thinking … if major commercial emailers are including symbols in their subject lines, then is the practice of including symbols in subject lines really all that taboo?”
In fact, Experian tackled this very subject nearly a year ago. In a study based on Experian CheetahMail, they witnessed “mixed-to-positive results when using symbols in subject lines, with 56 percent of brands we analyzed having a higher unique open rate.”
In order of popularity, the symbols they saw in subject lines ranked like this:
♥ ★ ☼ ♫ ☀ ✿ ☆ ♡ ⇒ ☺ ❤ ✈ ✞ → ☂
Experian says that “Trying a different symbol may add a ‘wow’ factor to subject lines. Airplanes (✈) had a 10.7 percent lift in unique open rates, while umbrellas (☂) generated a 50 percent lift.”
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