Email Marketing Trends for June 2012 (Now with Special Character Data!)

Jim Davidson

Whether you ♥ them or wish they would ✈ away, use of special characters in subject lines is on the ↑. The Email Marketing Trends report will now include data on the use (and abuse) of special characters.  Check out some tips for using special characters in this blog post.

Email Volume by Day

The most actively mailed days of the month were 06/08 and 06/29 (both Fridays) which saw 45% of brands sending at least one email.  “Dads” and/or “Grads” related promotions took center stage on 06/08 and many messages received on 06/29 were July 4th themed.

There was a three way tie for the slowest day of the month: 06/02, 06/09, and 06/30.  All three dates were Saturdays, though we will see in the next section that mailing on Saturdays increased in June.

June 2012 Email Volume Index - Small


(click to enlarge)

(The number of brands I monitor increases each month. To provide more consistent data month-over-month, “Email Volume” will now be presented as the percentage of brands sending that particular day rather than quantity of emails received.)

Email Volume by Day of Week


With Father’s Day on a Sunday and the 4th of July on a Wednesday this year, Friday saw a 5% increase compared to May.  Though still the least mailed day of the week, Saturday also saw another month-over-month increase.

June 2012 Email Volume by Day of Week

In 2011, the week before Father’s Day spiked on Wednesday but declined the rest of the week.  In 2012, the spike moved a day closer to Father’s Day with Wednesday seeing the steepest YoY decline (11%).

Father's Day Week Email Volume Year over Year

Emails Sent per Brand

June’s most frequent sender sent 68 messages which is much lower compared to May’s most frequent sender who had 84. May and June tied for the average at 3 messages.

June 2012 Emails Sent per Brand

Subject Line Trends

Subject line data has been consistent each month so it will no longer be presented here unless there is a significant shift away from lengths of 200 max and 50 average.  The shortest subject lines of the month will always be included in the “Tiny Dozen.”


Rue La La and Gilt have consistently won for the longest subject line.  Unless they shift away from listing the contents of the email in the subject line, I will present the “Longest (Non-Rue La La or Gilt) Subject Line.

Belle & Clive:Bluefly presents Belle & Clive: Prada, Bottega Veneta, Hugo Boss, Salvatore Ferragamo, Summer Separates Under $100, LnA, Wet Cement, John Varvatos STAR, and more

Belle & Clive:Bluefly presents Belle & Clive: Yves Saint Laurent, Givenchy, Tommy Hilfiger, Ellen Tracy, Ciao Bella, T-Squad, Vilebrequin, Loro Piana, Kiton, and more

SmartBargains:Baby, It’s Hot Outside! Save Big on Summer Essentials + Free Shipping – Fendi, Nina Ricci, Nicole Miller, Chloe, Movado, Cartier, Lucky Brand & more


The Tiny Dozen” features subject lines that are 12 characters or fewer to give you ideas to keep it short and sweet!


The Tiny Dozen
Brand Subject Line Count Mini! 5
A|X Armani Exchange Alerts For You 7
Sephora Obsessed 8
ProFlowers 54% off! 8
jcpenney High Five 9
NASTY GAL Right On. 9
NASTY GAL Hot Stuff 9
The Limited Free $10! 9 Mo Pattern 10 In the ★s! 10
ShopNBC 40-60% Off 10
Stein Mart Please come 11
J.Crew Little Edie 11
Buckle Lighten Up! 11
Maidenform What’s New? 11
CUSP Why We ❤ DVF 12 48-HOUR SALE 12
New York & Company We ♥ this… 12
UncommonGoods This Just In 12 Born to Run! 12

June Subject Line Word Cloud:

June 2012 Email Subject Line Word Cloud - Small

(click to enlarge)

Special Characters

They can polarize a marketing team.  Some think they are cute and clever.  Others want to see the data to support using special characters in subject lines.  Well, to give some insight into the adoption and usage of special characters,  I will present data each month outlining how many messages use them, which symbols are used and the subject lines containing the most symbols.

I reviewed data for the past year and the trend really began to explode in March 2012.  Since then, the number of emails with at least one special character has more than doubled.  This is definitely one to watch.  Will the spike continue or is decline around the corner?  Stay tuned!

June 2012 Special Characters in Email Subject Lines


Most Frequently Used Characters

Hearts and stars are, not surprisingly, the most frequently used special characters.  While they are being used more frequently, it’s worth noting the symbols that were used in previous months but have been put out of rotation.  Perhaps open rates weren’t better when used or perhaps there were rendering issues.  June saw 8 new symbols thrown into the non-alphanumeric mix.

June 2012 Email Subject Line Special Character Usage

(Click to view the full list of special characters.)

Those who used special characters in subject lines most often used 2 however there were 4 emails containing 3 or more:


Brand Subject Line Character Count
Stein Mart ★☆★ SAVE BIG! July 4th 2 Day SALE ★☆★ 6
Hartstrings 60% ★ +25% ★ 60% ★ +25% ★ 60% ★ +25% 5
Hartstrings 60% ★ 30% ★ 25% ★ 20% 3 Jim, Save $4 on the Gillette® Fusion® ProGlide® Styler. 3



The balance of promotions remained consistent month-over-month.

Please let me know if there are other trends that you would like to see in the monthly Email Marketing Trend reports.

Email Marketing Trends – May 2012

Email Marketing Trends – April 2012

Email Marketing Trends – March 2012


Jim Davidson
Manager of Marketing Research

  • Alice Chen

    Great article,Jim. I learned a lot about email marketing trends from June. Thanks for the email marketing trend information from June.