Thursday, May 3, 2012
There’s been a new trend cropping up lately in inboxes – maybe you’ve seen it? It’s full of love. Sometimes it points you in the right direction. Other times, it’s simply breaking up the information overload.
What’s the trend? It’s icons in subject lines, and marketers in every vertical are finding ways to use this eye-catching new tool to snag more opens on their emails.
It’s actually not that new. Since a fourteen year old first learned to text her friends, they’ve been putting the < together with a number 3 to create a heart. (It looks like this: <3 See it?)
What IS new is that all kinds of inboxes, from Gmail to your mobile phone, are recognizing these as icons and displaying them not as text, but as small icons in your text subject lines. What once simply said:
“Fall in love with our Summer styles!” and got lost in a busy inbox filled with similar subject lines, now prettily reads:
“Fall in ♥ with our Summer styles!”
Who could resist?
There are dozens of unicode characters supported by inboxes, so while the heart icon has been the most widely adopted to date, don’t shy away from trying something different. Want to draw attention right up front? Lead with an arrow (→) and your subject line is immediately high priority. Other creative uses could include a music note where appropriate (♫) or even the ever-present smiley emoticon (☺) to convey the fun in your message. Use creative asterisks and flourishes (* or ~) as breaks in a busy subject line. For example, “20% off Dresses * New Men’s Shoes * All Kidswear on Sale”
To date, these symbols haven’t popped up in many subject lines, meaning that when they do they get noticed. Recently, several retailers have added them around Mother’s Day messaging, encouraging us all to show mom the love. Some retailers have added an arrow to particularly urgent messages (think 24-hour sales).
Our team of crack researches (read: me and several colleagues) hasn’t yet seen these pop up in messages with B2B audiences, or in transactional sending – this fun addition is probably best targeted to customers rather than clients, for regular promotional sending rather than shipping confirmations.
Two additional caveats present themselves here, too. First, the reminder to test, test, test. There is no silver bullet in email marketing, but test a ♥ in the subject line to half your audience, and the absence of one to the other half. Is there a noticeable difference in open engagement? If so, you might just be on to something. If not, never fear – at least you can say you gave it a try.
If your audience does respond, the second consideration is a reminder to use these icons sparingly. As mentioned above, they’re not widely in use yet, which is exactly what makes them so eye-catching today. But just like saying you’ve got a last-minute sale that ends up lasting all month, your customers will catch on and tune out the over-use of these symbols.
The email marketing landscape is always changing, and when a new trend that’s relatively easy to adopt comes along – like adding a fun icon in your subject lines – there’s no reason not to give it a go. Who knows – your subscribers may just ♥ it, too.