Cracking the Code on Unicode Characters

Here’s everything digital marketers should know about using Unicode characters

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Ever wonder why some of the social media posts you see or texts you receive look…different?

No, we’re not talking about green texts from your one friend with the Android. What you are seeing are called Unicode characters.

Curious to learn more about what they are, how to use them, and how they can impact your digital marketing strategy? We did the research and ran the tests – keep reading to see what we found.

What Are Unicode Characters?

Unicode is a computing industry standard that defines a set of characters that can be used in different languages and scripts.

The Unicode standard includes over 143,000 characters, including letters, numbers, symbols, and emojis. Unicode characters are encoded using a unique numerical value that allows them to be displayed on any device or platform that supports Unicode. (Spoiler alert: most all digital mediums do.)

Some Unicode characters may look familiar – 𝕝𝕚𝕜𝕖 𝕥𝕙𝕖𝕤𝕖 – while others may be totally new and unfamiliar to you – we’re guessing you’ve probably never seen ⑈ or ⩐.

How Can Digital Marketers Use Unicode Characters in Their Social Media Content?

Good news: all major social media platforms support the usage of Unicode characters.

Because social media platforms are highly visual, using Unicode characters is one way you can make your posts stop the scroll. Emojis and symbols can convey emotions in a way that words alone simply can’t. You can also opt for a funky, bolded, or italicized script when you want to add emphasis to certain words or phrases.

How Can Digital Marketers Use Unicode Characters in SMS Content?

For years, Android has allowed users to change the font on their phones. Apple, however, does not allow font customization so all text messages appear in SF Pro, the company’s standard typeface.

Unless you use Unicode characters, that is.

Incorporating Unicode characters in your SMS content enables alternative font styles that are distinct from whatever typeface the manufacturer or message recipient has selected as the default.

How Can Digital Marketers Use Unicode Characters in Email Content?

In a world where the average American receives 121 emails per day, it’s imperative for digital marketers to find ways to keep their subject lines from getting lost in crowded inboxes. Many of these professionals use emojis to do that.

Emojis can hint at the topic of the email content, convey a sense of urgency, or simply grab attention. See for yourself:

See how Unicode characters appear in an email inbox.

The ticket, croissant, and money emojis clearly underscore the message of winning free tickets to Paris and help that subject line stand out from the rest.

But beware – while Unicode characters can enhance the visual appeal of email subject lines, overusing them can result in messages being marked as spam.

Marketers should use these characters thoughtfully and sparingly to avoid triggering spam filters.

Are There Any Drawbacks to Using Unicode Characters?

The short answer is yes.

While Unicode characters can help add emphasis, convey emotions, and break up huge chunks of text, they can also harm your content’s accessibility for anyone using a screen reader or other assistive technology.

These characters may look like different fonts and cute symbols, but they are actually numerical codes. That means 𝓉𝒽𝒾𝓈 will be read as “mathematical script t, mathematical script h, mathematical script i, mathematical script s.”

It’s also worth noting that not all devices and platforms display or break Unicode characters in the same way, so your content may not appear consistent across all mediums.

Do Unicode Characters Increase Content Engagement?

We didn’t just wonder what the answer to this question was – we tested it!

Our teams ran a total of 12 tests across different SMS campaigns, A/B testing the same content with and without Unicode characters.

While we expected the versions with the Unicode characters to perform better because they were more visually interesting and emphasized the CTA, the results were not that black and white.

Our A/B test of Unicode characters in SMS content

Of the 12 tests executed, few had a clear winner. While the Unicode group yielded a slightly higher average click rate of 2.52% overall, the plain text group had a better conversion rate.

This experiment suggests that text style does not have a significant effect on click rates or conversion rates, but can still be utilized intermittently for variation.

Click here to see the full results.

The Verdict on Unicode Characters

Unicode characters can help add flair to your content when used judiciously. But fancy fonts and emojis should be used to supplement, not as a mask for bad content.

Our team of experts can help take the guesswork out of integrating Unicode characters into your digital content strategy. Reach out to get the conversation started today.

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