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Subject lines in different languages

Do you send foreign-language campaigns? Have you seen a string of characters that starts off with “=?utf-8?Q?…” in your subject lines? Yes, here we go again with the email glitches: Hotmail doesn’t like some UTF-8 encoded characters in email headers. But strangely enough, these same subject and ‘From:’ lines look fine when the email is actually read:

Reading the email itself

For a while now, we’ve sent all email to Hotmail accounts using iso-8859-1 encoding, as this has helped our customers avoid most of Hotmail’s kooky encoding woes. Sadly, this hasn’t been enough to protect your email headers. The result is that some characters that fall outside of the US-ASCII character set triggers this unfriendly string of garbled text… And this will continue to be the case, until Hotmail decides to step up and offer solid UTF-8 support (like pretty much every other email client does).

The character sets we’ve seen this affect so far are Chinese, Greek, Japanese and Thai. Thankfully, most languages have been spared (see screenshot above).

As Windows Live Hotmail accounts for over 16% of email client market share, this glitch may to some be a mild annoyance and to others, infuriating. On the upside, the subject and ‘From:’ line are only affected when displayed in the inbox – once you open the email itself, the message displays fine.

Many thanks to Josie Khng, the Asian-language campaign sensation for letting us know about this. If you’re sending or planning to send campaigns with non US-ASCII characters, our earlier blog post on sending non-English language campaigns may also be of interest.

Finally, what oddities have you experienced when sending foreign-language email campaigns? We’d love to hear about them in the comments below.

This blog provides general information and discussion about email marketing and related subjects. The content provided in this blog ("Content”), should not be construed as and is not intended to constitute financial, legal or tax advice. You should seek the advice of professionals prior to acting upon any information contained in the Content. All Content is provided strictly “as is” and we make no warranty or representation of any kind regarding the Content.
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