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Using symbols in email subject lines: A fad that might work as long as it doesn’t spread


The burgeoning trend of using Unicode symbols in email subject lines to help them get noticed in the inbox reinforces the importance to marketers of setting themselves apart from their competition in the typically crowded subscriber inbox. They totally have the right idea, but will it get their emails noticed in the inbox if everyone else is doing it too?

The problem with these Unicode symbols is that they’re available to everybody, so as soon as the trend peaks, everyone and his dog will be using these symbols in their subject lines. As if the typical inbox isn’t already crowded enough, with Unicode symbols it will soon become not only an overwhelming jumble of words but also symbols, inflicting maximum dizziness on poor, innocent, unsuspecting email subscribers.


Fortunately, there is a better way for brands to use icons in the inbox to help themselves stand out from their competition: ActiveMail’s Inbox Icons. These icons are actually the senders’ logos, which of course makes each icon unique to each sender.

In order for a sender to get his Inbox Icon, the sender’s domain must first be verified by ActivePath – the inventor of ActiveMail – using Domain-based Message Authentication (DMARC), a technical specification that incorporates Sender Policy Framework (SPF) and Domain Keys Identified Mail (DKIM) mechanisms to authenticate email senders.

It sounds highly technical but really the process is super simple. Designed to combat spam, spoofing, phishing and all manner of bogus and otherwise sinister email senders, the idea of DMARC is to to limit or eliminate email recipients’ exposure to potentially fraudulent and harmful messages and to basically give users peace of mind in the knowledge that they are better able to discern between authentic emails and those that aren’t.

ActiveMail’s Inbox Icons offer two super-important benefits for both marketers and their email subscribers:
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How to get noticed in the inbox without even trying

There are already countless articles dealing with best practices for getting noticed in the inbox in an effort to increase your email open rate, including how to write the perfect subject line, the importance of the “From” field, send time optimization, and more. And then of course, the content that passively waits behind all those techniques better stand up to the recipients’ expectations, otherwise subscribers will remember it’s not worth the effort next time.

It’s definitely crucial to have an effective subject line strategy (create curiosity, allude to a deal, get personal, etc). After all, it’s the only visible part of the email before it gets opened.

But even the most creative, well-crafted subject line can get lost in an average inbox, which is typically crowded with dozens of other unopened emails. When it’s that crowded, the user doesn’t spot cleverly written subject lines. All he sees is lines of text among other lines of text. Hence the returning conundrum of the email marketer: how do you increase the chance your email will be opened?

Enter ActiveMail‘s, Inbox Icons (also knons as ‘ActiveIcons’ or ‘sender icons’). This ingenious little feature immediately sets your emails apart from the others, adding instant brand recognition and trust.

The ActiveIcon is the fastest, most effective way to get your subscriber’s attention to your email in the inbox, draw him to the subject line and open the email. If a picture is worth a 1,000 words, then an ActiveIcon must surely be the answer to the email marketer’s “higher open rate” prayer. Get in touch to find out how you can become an ActiveMail sender.