Of course, while I was reading Mendez's piece, my work email box got pinged a few times and one email stood out more than others ... you guessed it, the one with two stars! (See the mediaplayer to the right.)
Then I looked at my Gmail and hunted for such unusual symbols. Frankly, I came up with very few examples. There was Drugstore.com with their clever use of sun symbols to promote its "Sun Care" department, but not much else. And while that email somewhat got my attention, the old-fashioned $ symbol in a nearby email from Rolling Stone grabbed my eyeballs more: "Come Back for Only $1".
In other words, let's make sure we see the forest through the trees here … or not put the cart before the horse. These new symbols may be worth exploring (see some tips below before you willy-nilly toss them into a subject line), but the "core symbols" should still be your go-to symbols in terms of frequency.
In our gigantic database of email and direct mail samples (Who's Mailing What!), members can use filters and search terms to find nearly every kind of email that's sent out (sign up for a free demo if you're interested). Indeed, we track everything involving subject lines, including the usage of symbols. Looking at the emails from 1/1/2012 to 3/31/2013 reveals the following "Real Top 10" of symbols used in emails, followed by the percentage of emails in which they appear:
- ! 33.6 percent
- - 23.9 percent
- % 20.4 percent
- : 19.9 percent
- $ 10.7 percent
- & 9.0 percent
- + 8.1 percent
- ? 3.5 percent
- / 2.5 percent
- ; 2.3 percent
Okay, I can already hear you saying, "B O R I N G!!!!!" Well, sometimes effective direct mail and email messaging is just that.
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