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53% of Your Email Subject Lines Are Probably Broken

Nov 7, 2007
Do you realize that 53% of your email subject lines are probably broken? According to a recent study by Pivotal Veracity, that's how many email subject lines don't display as the sender had intended. And, if you are doing your own email marketing, there is a very good chance that your own subject lines are among those that don't display properly.

I'm sure you've seen something similar to this in your in-box:

Subject: {FirstName}, Here%?s Your Daily News^"=?

Suspicious looking subject lines like that are a one-way ticket to the Spam Folder. Unfortunately, many in-house email marketers are guilty of this type of garbled text, and they don't even realize it.

If you originally create your email messages in Microsoft Word and then copy and paste the message into your email client, you might be sending these spamish-looking messages. Without going into a lot of techno mumbo jumbo, the reason is basically because email clients assume text is encoded in ASCII. However, MS Word defaults to non-ASCII characters in several instances. The good news is it's a very easy fix.

Before you type up your email draft in Word, click Tools on the menu bar, then choose the AutoCorrectOptions. Next, choose the AutoFormat tab and make sure the selections under the Replace options are NOT checked. Then click AutoFormat As You Type and, again, make sure the options are not selected.

That fix will help keep non-ASCII characters out of the body of your email message, but the only 100% fool-proof method for creating your subject lines is to type it directly into the email client you will be using to send the message. That's because the subject lines are actually encoded differently than the bodies of the email messages.

Another fool-proof method is to create your draft directly in an ASCII text editor. Most Windows computers come with Notepad pre-installed. TextPad is a relatively inexpensive editor that has a few additional features. And, while I haven't personally used it myself, I have heard good things about WinEdit.

If you like the ease and comfort of using Word, you can always create your original draft in Word, and then paste the test into a plain text editor to remove all the non-ASCII characters, You will then need to paste this new version into your email client. Sure it's an extra step, but you should notice improved delivery rates because of it.
About the Author
Karen Scharf offers several whitepapers, free reports and checklists, including her FREE Can-Spam Checklist and FREE Email Pre-Flight Checklist. Download your FREE copies at http://www.modernimage.com/freereports.htm.
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