Mojibake, and other ways to show your customers you just don’t care…
Who would have thought that there’s a word for that annoying issue we’ve all seen in emails and online, where punctuation and other characters are mangled into unreadable text? But there is a word, and that word is mojibake. It’s Japanese for “transformed characters”. I like it! (the word, not the mangled text.)
I’m sure you’ve all seen it before, but here’s an example: æ–‡å—åŒ–ã . That’s the Japanese characters for mojibake (文字化け) displayed in software configured to expect Western encoding.
But mojibake doesn’t just crop up when using Japanese or Chinese characters. I’m surprised at how often I see this in emails from companies that should know better. I recently received an invite to a major conference in Singapore, and the email had superscript numbers instead of quotes, and Euro symbols (€) instead of bullet points…
Email: Get the basics right or lose customers
Surely when using email as a critical marketing channel, you should be able to get the basics right? Maybe I’m being harsh, but I feel that if a company can’t be bothered checking if their emails are readable, they probably can’t be bothered with many other tasks. It really turns me off.
And that’s not the only thing that upsets me. My provident fund provider here in Hong Kong (HK) constantly sends me emails in Chinese, with an English translation down at the bottom. Now I know I live in Hong Kong, but I reckon my name surely indicates that I don’t want to receive communications in Chinese! Yet they clearly don’t care enough to segment their customer base and send separate English and Chinese communications – even though HK is a bilingual country.
I never read down to the English, and I never visit their website to view my statements. I probably should though; I’m upset at them now because I feel they don’t know me even after 10 years. And I’ll be even more upset when my pension disappears because I never checked how it was doing!
But until this happens, this provider is losing the opportunity to up-sell or cross-sell me other products. I really have no relationship with them at all beyond that initial product set up over 10 years ago that was done by my employer at the time. But do they care? Because it doesn’t seem so!
Know your customer and send relevant offers
Just as many companies send me eMarketing messages promoting products and services that are of no interest to me. I’m not talking about serious spam here, but emails from companies that I have dealt with in the past and that should know me enough to know what I’ll be interested in – Here’s a pretty obvious example: I’m a guy so stop sending me recommendations for girly stuff! Amazon and eBay are pretty good at this, but most other companies need to do more to understand and cultivate the customer relationship.
Check out this article: If you’re not segmenting, don’t bother advertising.
Remember to test!
Test your emails to make sure everything displays correctly – they should render well on all devices, and even some very basic demographic segmentation of your customer base will really change the way your customer views your email.
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