Emojis are a popular device for digital communications. These colorful little characters grab attention, express emotions, and at whimsy and brightness to social media posts 🗣, web content 💻 and emails 📧. Explore why businesses are putting emojis in their email subject lines and messages and whether you should, too.
Have you ever noticed how often human beings use symbols instead of words to communicate?
Restaurants and shops use pictures such as 🚾 (water closet) or 🚻 (restroom) to identify restrooms.
Traffic signs and signals use images and colors to tell you when to stop and when to go.
🚸 🚥 🛑
And your local weather report sprinkles a map with symbols to represent whether you can expect rain ☔️ or shine ☀️.
If you’ve never noticed, that’s because your brain quickly transforms visual input into data without considering its format.
Words, symbols or pictures–it’s all just information by the time it reaches your brain’s processing center.
We’ve used images to communicate since before words were around because they are convenient and versatile.
Old habits die hard. When the world went digital, people immediately came up with ways to add images to their text communications. Today, that practice has expanded to include static graphics, GIFs, emoticons and emojis.
Is adding emojis to your marketing emails and subject lines right for your brand? In the following sections, I’ll share all the details about the why, when and how of email emojis and let you decide. 👍
Read the most significant, most organized volume of information written about email deliverability.
What are emojis?
Unicode.org defines an emoji as “A colorful pictograph that can be used inline in text.” An image, an encoded character, or a sequence of encoded characters may be an emoji. This broad definition includes stickers and traditional, encoded emojis.
Emojis get their name from a combination of two Japanese words: “e” meaning picture, and “moji” meaning character. (Both the words “emoji” and “emojis” may refer to more than one emoji, btw.)
These little pictures that show up in line with the text of social media posts, text messages, private chats, and emails are descendants of emoticons that were built using a combination of keyboard characters and add color and detail to these OG expressions.
However, emojis differ from emoticons because emoticons are built using ASCII characters and were initially used solely to convey emotions.
Each emoji has a code based on Unicode CLDR data associated with it. As of 2022, there were over 3600 emojis in the Unicode Standard lexicon.
Emojis are like plain pictographs, which represent objects.
Except that emojis are usually more colorful and complex. Sometimes the same object, such as a heart or arrow, may be represented either as a pictograph or an emoji, depending on how it is coded.
Pictograph vs. Emoji
❤ vs. 💛
🠊 vs. ➡️
Who decides when an image, character, or symbol can become an emoji?
The Unicode Emoji Consortium and Subcommittee manages the use and development of emojis. To make it as an emoji, a character has to meet several standards, including user demand and vendor support.
Every year, emoji decision-makers choose new emojis to add to the list. In 2022, 31 new symbols, including the left and right hands to build your own high-fives, maracas, a shaking face, and hearts in three new colors, made the Emoji Version 15.0 draft.
Like digital typefaces (a.k.a. fonts) and images, though, not all operating systems, platforms, and email clients support emojis. When a system doesn’t support emojis, these images won’t render correctly and may appear as an open or filled rectangle, a stripped-down black line or pictograph version of the character, or a blank space.
When optimizing your emails for Gmail or other clients, check to be sure that the typefaces and other design choices you make–including the emojis you use–will render properly.
The Email Marketing Activity Book for Kids
Why are emojis popular and how can your brand use them in your marketing communications?
Sometimes people use emojis simply because their friends do, or it just seems fun.
However, there’s a lot of communication psychology behind the use of emojis, too. These characters are part of what is referred to as visual rhetoric or the use of visual elements including images, typography, and text for communication.
When visuals are combined with text, the result is multimodal communication which can enhance people’s ability to communicate with and understand one another.
In simpler terms, we understand one another better when we use more than one method to communicate. (e.g., a lecture with slides, a textbook with pictures, a social media post with emojis.)
The answer to why we like emojis and why your brand should add emojis to your content creation toolkit is a combination of the following reasons.
Emojis enable us to express emotion, emphasis and intent when communicating via text
When we speak face-to-face, our facial expressions, body posture and intonation help convey our meaning.
Are we joking or being sarcastic? Are we angry or sad? Feeling a bit ill? 🤢
Emojis replace these visual and auditory cues in text-based communications like emails and SMS and help people make their feelings clearer when communicating across digital channels.
Emojis are especially helpful when people communicating via digital channels want to convey humor or sarcasm. I’ve seen social media and chat discussions go bad fast because what someone meant as a joke was perceived as serious.
Think about how many Twitter feuds the right emoji could help avoid!
Emojis replace the gestures people use when communicating in-person or face-to-face
People don’t always use words to communicate, relying on a casual wave, thumb-ups, shrug 🤷♀️ or other gesture to speak for them.
For those who prefer to show instead of tell, text-based formats can be a real conversation killer. Emojis let them continue to gesture to get their message across.
Emojis can be used as shortcuts for text
In some circumstances, people use emojis to replace words or phrases. This can speed the flow of communication or save them from typing.
Instead of writing, “I don’t like that,” in a text message, the user can just select the thumbs down emoji. 👎
Some apps even suggest an emoji when you type certain words such as “love,” because emojis take up less space. As screen sizes shrink and thumbs get tired, an emoji can help ease the load.
Emojis as shortcuts are gaining fast adoption in workplace chat spaces such as Slack and Microsoft Teams, too.
A report on emoji use in the workplace compiled by Slack and Duolingo (the “Slack/Duolingo Emoji Survey”) found that teams have adopted common meanings for specific emojis, enabling them to respond quickly to in-app messages.
For example, the eyes emoji 👀 in business parlance means “taking a look,” circle and triangle emojis in different colors may indicate the level of urgency for a task, and the plus sign emoji indicates an upvote or approval for an idea.
Emojis add context and help overcome language barriers
If I send someone a text saying that I’m going on vacation, their thoughts may leap to touring a city (🗼), mountain biking(🚵), or spa treatments (💅, 💆).
If I want to give them a little hint as to what vacation means for me, I can add an emoji that draws the picture. Am I flying, hanging out on a beach, or planning on staying home to nap? There’s an emoji for that.
When communicating with a global audience, emojis can help point people in the right direction when text language transactions fall flat.
When you say “biscuit,” do you mean a cookie? Only in America, aimright? 😉
How do people know what an emoji means? Can you avoid being misunderstood when using emojis in your emails?
Each emoji in the Unicode Emoji list is accompanied by a text description, such as “grinning face,” or “pot of food.” But just because an emoji has a description doesn’t mean that’s how users define it.
Many people don’t apply the literal translation or original intent of an emoji when interpreting its meaning. Context, cultural differences, the development of emoji slang, the use of emojis for innuendo, and other factors affect how your audience may interpret your brand’s emoji-speak.
For instance, in some cultures, the “smiling face with halo” 😇 emojis association with death is perceived as a threat! Meanwhile, the “skull” 💀 emoji is used as slang for extreme humor–a reference to something “killing it” in comedy or saying “I’m dead” because they laughed so hard.
And, the reason the “increasing chart” emoji shows a red line instead of green is because in Asian countries, like the home of emoji–Japan, red is good and green is bad.
📊 74% of people in the Slack/Duolingo Emoji Survey said they’d been involved in an emoji misunderstanding.
When it comes to shared understandings, hand gesture emojis can be especially risky territory.
Different cultures ascribe different meanings to hand signals, such as an open palm or raised fist. Some traditional sign language symbols and gestures such as the “OK” signal, have been misappropriated by groups that assign them negative meanings.
Academic research papers have been written on the topic of cultural interpretations of emojis complete with data charts like the one pictured below.
Also, because operating systems render emojis differently, senders and receivers may not get the same impression. For instance, the big grin emoji you sent may appear as a grimacing face to some of your users.
Should your business use emojis in its email marketing?
While there are some risks to using emojis in your marketing communications, for most brands, the benefits make adding emojis to emails worthwhile.
6 great reasons B2C and B2B businesses should use emojis in their email marketing content
Emojis have been around long enough that people of all ages now recognize and use them.
Even in professional settings such as business chats and emails, the use of emojis is no longer completely taboo.
Your business can gain many of the same benefits that individual users do from adding emojis to your email subject lines, preview text, and body copy.
Here’s a list of some of the top benefits of communicating with emojis.
#1 Email marketers’ audiences use emojis
As more people incorporate emojis into their text communications, the number of situations where you shouldn’t use an emoji is decreasing.
Of course, there’s no universal rule that everyone has to use emojis. Some audiences don’t use or like emojis and won’t view them as appropriate for the kinds of email messages a business sends. Know your audience before you decide to deploy emojis. In most instances, employing emojis will help you connect and relate to your subscribers.
📊 73% of people use emojis when messaging friends, according to the Slack/Duolingo Emoji Survey.
📊 77% of employees use emojis at work, a study by ratings and review site Clutch found.
#2 Emojis in subject lines and preview text help messages stand out
We do know graphic elements that add visual interest, variety, and contrast draw attention. Emojis break up the text of email subject lines and preview texts with their color and shape.
In a series of tests comparing subject lines with and without emojis, Phrasee found that the subject line with an emoji outperformed the one without 60% of the time. Other studies have been inconclusive about whether adding emojis to the subject line or preview text of an email increases open rates.
What do you think? Do the emoji’d subject lines and preview texts in the inbox image below grab your attention?
Emojis in your subject line can catch someone’s eye and add contextual cues to your copy.
#3 Emojis can supplement text and help convey an email message’s meaning and intent
Emojis support better, clearer communications by expressing emotions, adding emphasis, replacing gestures, adding context, and overcoming language barriers.
📊 92% of US emoji users say emojis help them overcome language barriers, according to Adobe’s 2022 US emoji trend report (the “2022 Emoji Trend Report”).
Even more formal email communications such as transactional emails can use emojis to assist in understanding. For example, a bank might use the bank 🏦 emoji to highlight its physical address and the telephone ☎ emoji to make its voice number easy to locate in a message.
#4 Emojis humanize and improve people’s impressions of the brands (or people) that use them
Adding emojis to your copy introduces depth and visual interest. You can use emojis to express humor, shared interests, support and other meanings quickly. The sense that emojis are a casual means of communication works in your favor in most instances, making your brand seem more approachable.
📊 73% of US emoji users believe others who use emojis are friendlier, funnier or cooler than those who don’t, per the 2022 Emoji Trend Report.
📧 The waving hand emoji that CPGD uses in its email greeting gives the message a friendly, human-to-human feel.
#5 Emojis in emails elicit emotional responses from recipients
Emojis representing facial expressions communicate the feelings of the sender and stimulate a response from the recipient. These visual elements provide a common medium through which people can express their feelings and intent.
That’s probably the reason why the most popular emoji categories are those related to emotions and relationships.
Emojis offer brands a powerful way to convey sincerity and connect on a deeper level with subscribers. Two-thirds of respondents to the Slack/Duolingo Survey said that they felt closer and more bonded to people when their use of emojis improved their understanding of one another.
#6 Emojis in emails engage subscribers and motivate them to act
Emojis are a simple way to add visual interest and engagement to your HTML messages. Plus, their ability to convey emotions can make them useful as persuasive devices to support your copy.
For example, arrows and other attention-grabbing emojis can direct readers toward your email’s CTA. Other emojis (such as ⏳,💰, 🛫, 🎁,🎫) can enhance your urgency, exclusivity, or savings messages. And, of course, star emojis (⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐) is a fast way to communicate that your products or services are top-rated.
In a 2022 study, researchers found that when combined with your email’s copy and other design elements, emojis may increase your email’s click-through rates.
The study’s authors write, “emojis increase the probability of opening the email, the number of times email gets opened and clicks to access additional content,” and recommend that email marketers “optimize email marketing by using emojis strategically to attract audience interest, provoke interactions, build relationships and generate word of mouth…”
But what about those risks I mentioned?
Why not use emojis in your marketing emails?
They’re fun, popular, bridge communication gaps, and add interest and personality to your emails. So why not use emojis in the messages you send to your email subscribers?
Here are a few reasons:
- Don’t use emojis in your marketing emails when they aren’t appropriate for your brand or audience. As your mother probably used to tell you, just because everybody is doing something doesn’t mean you should. Emojis aren’t right for every audience or message. And they may not be right for your brand at all.
Browsing through my inbox’s contents, I noticed that some business-related publishers never add an emoji to their email’s body copy and very seldom include it in the subject lines of their messages.
Often these same brands stick to traditional sans-serif fonts, too. Little colorful characters just aren’t part of the trusted and authoritative resource image these brands are trying to project. My bank, insurance provider, and doctor don’t use emojis when communicating with me either. However, my online brokerage does.
Before deciding to use emojis for your email marketing, review your brand persona and audience attributes. You may decide to avoid emojis or use only a select set of characters. The registered ®️ and check mark emojis might be appropriate for your brand even if a kiss mark 💋 isn’t.
- Don’t add emojis to your emails if they increase your email production costs beyond the value they contribute to your message. Choosing the right emoji for a particular message requires personal attention. Someone needs to select symbols that are relevant to the content and make sure the emoji is safe to use. These extra steps can slow down your workflow.
Also, some email templates automatically pull copy and images directly from your website to populate the email message using dynamic content blocks. You won’t be able to add emojis inside these dynamic sections of your message.
📧 RIS would have to change their newsletter’s template and automation to add emojis to their messaging mix.
- Don’t over-clutter marketing email messages that are mostly images or image-only with emojis. Emojis in the subject lines and preview texts of your image-centric marketing emails can still do the job of gaining attention in the inbox. But if your message is saved as an image, you won’t be able to add inline emojis in the body of your email template.
I mean, you could use an image panel followed by an emoji (text) panel, followed by another image. But really?
Some brands that use image-based messages still manage to capture the look and feel of emojis by incorporating them into the graphic. Fauxmojis are image files, not coded emojis.
Why? Because people like emojis!
📧 Shopify uses fauxmojis to accent its images and header in this free trial announcement email.
After eliminating these risks, how and where can you place emojis to enhance your marketing emails?
Use emojis to spruce up your appearance in subscribers’ inbox panes or in the body of your emails. Check out the following tips and examples to inspire your email + emoji endeavors.
How to add emojis to your email templates
Most email template editors do the hard work for you when adding emojis to either your subject lines or email templates. You can simply select the emoji from a menu of images and add it where you want it to appear.
WYSIWYG editors will add the emoji’s HTML code to the HTML version of your template. If you want to insert an emoji using HTML, you’ll need to add its HTML identifier manually.
The code for the airplane emoji in travel brand KAYAK’s email subject line looks like this:
Keep in mind, what you code may not be what renders for your email recipients. Preview your email templates to see how your messages will look on different devices and email clients.
Can B2B brands use emojis?
Of course B2B brands can use emojis in their marketing emails. And, as you’ll see in the following examples, many do.
Emojis were already gaining acceptance in business settings before the pandemic and the rapid adoption of remote work accelerated the pace. Further, workplace communication tools have made emojis a common language among business professionals.
There are some studies indicating that people who send business-related communications using emojis may be taken less seriously. But the trends point to this becoming less and less of an issue.
Also, the specific emoji and its use matter.
It might not be appropriate for your cybersecurity firm to send emails with screaming faces 😱 in the subject line (or maybe it would be🤔). However, a calendar emoji to introduce a date-specific event might be perfect.
B2B buyer personas are shifting, too.
Increasingly, your business customers want to have the same experience when making purchases for their companies that they have when shopping for themselves. This includes receiving conversational, human communications from your brand.
Okay. Let me show you what emojis in email marketing looks like. Bring on the examples!
Examples of emojis in email subject lines (and sender names and preview text)
Adding emojis to your email’s subject line or other inbox elements creates visual interest through color and contrast. But the inbox emojis can do more than just catch someone’s eye.
Use your emojis to quickly communicate who a message is from and what it’s about with the following tactics.
Adopt an emoji as a brand mascot for your newsletters
In our article about email newsletter best practices, we encourage marketers to use a consistent sending schedule and give their newsletters a name or brand identity that makes them recognizable to subscribers.
Emojis are an easy space-saving way to extend this branding into the inbox.
Each of the senders illustrated by this inbox image ⤵️ uses an emoji as part of their inbox branding strategy.
Emerging Tech Brew, which is part of the Morning Brew set of newsletters, always starts its line with a coffee cup ☕ (hot beverage) emoji. The Points Guy tags his airline travel newsletter with an ✈ airplane emoji.
DTC, a direct-to-consumer ecommerce industry publication, chose a shipping box 📦 (package) to identify its brand in the inbox. Meanwhile, “Byte sized tech newsletter” TLDR takes things to the next level by incorporating a robot 🤖 emoji in its Sender name.
If you plan to use an emoji as a brand icon in the inbox, choose one that is relevant to your industry and brand personality, and place it in the same location–usually at the beginning of your subject line–each time.
Get a head start on standing out by using an emoji in your From name
TLDR isn’t the only brand that uses an emoji to help their From name stand out. In the example below, both DTC men’s body care brand OffCourt and vitamin and supplement seller Puritan’s Pride accent their Sender name with a colorful emoji.
Emojis can help your sender name stand out when BIMIs don’t register in your recipients’ inbox displays.
Use an emoji (or two) to tell subscribers what your marketing email is about
You’ve probably seen messages in your inbox that begin with [Ebook] or [Webinar] [Podcast] or include a reference in the subject line or preview text telling you what the message is about.
Sometimes, email marketers even repeat themselves, adding this same copy to both the subject line and preview text.
Telling subscribers whether your email is about a downloadable asset, a podcast or a webinar is helpful and enhances their user experience. But this added information also takes up valuable inbox characters.
Add visual interest and convey your message’s subject quickly with an emoji instead.
There are emojis for webinars and podcasts? 🤔
Well, not really. But marketers are inventive.
Use one of several related emojis to hint at what’s inside your emails, such as a book for a free download offer, a microphone or headphones for messages about audio content and video-related emojis for webinars.
For example, a pair of headphones in the subject line alerts subscribers that this email from Advertising Week is about audio content.
BEE email template and editor maker uses the calendar emoji to draw subscribers’ eyes and add context to its ‘save the date’ webinar invite.
The calendar emoji is a common choice for invites of any kind.
Visit our article, Video Email Marketing: Tips, Strategies, and Examples to see how businesses use images, emojis and other methods to tell their email subscribers about video content.
Add emojis in the subject line and preview text to reveal the products your email is promoting
Back in the 80s and 90s, physical stickers were fun to collect and share. Judging by the covers of my friends’ and colleagues’ laptops (and mine), they still are.
Emojis representing products or services in the subject lines and preview copy of the email in my inbox reminds me of these types of stickers. They are cute, colorful representations of the actual item and they strike a tiny note of nostalgia in my heart.
These subject lines pictured below include an array of topical emojis. I like how My Science Shop took the time to add a Saturn emoji to its announcement that a new Saturn globe was available for purchase. And Omaha Steak’s lobster emoji immediately makes me think of this tasty seafood.
Think about the emojis that your brand could use to represent its products and add them to your approved emoji list for future subject lines. (Be sure to check for unintended meanings first!)
Add context to your subject line and preview text (and save space) with emojis
The emojis you select for your subject lines don’t have to be literal representations of your products or services. Figurative emojis can add humor or convey context through analogy or other devices.
For instance, MarketingProfs used a crocodile to complement its email about long-tail keywords.
Axios consistently places emojis at the front of its subject line text. But instead of using a single mascot emoji, this brand changes things up. They always relate the lead emojis to the content of the newsletter.
The inbox image below illustrates what I mean.
A shuffle tracks emoji that shows two lines crossing like they might on a supply and demand graph represents supply challenges and a newsletter with commentary about the economy gets a shopping cart emoji.
Axios’ emoji play attracts attention in the inbox and stimulates curiosity.
As email marketers use emojis more often, we’ve developed shared meanings for some characters.
A police car light 🚨 emoji expresses urgency or excitement (usually related to a sale). The shopping bags 🛍 or cart 🛒 emoji can indicate a sale in B2C messages or commerce topics in B2B emails.
A rocket 🚀 represents brand launches or investments that are predicted to go to the moon. Clocks and hourglasses, as you might expect, mean time is running out. You’ll find these emojis frequently featured in last-chance email subject lines and preview text.
The briefcase emoji 💼 has become a symbol for job postings or topics related to employment.
Use emojis in your email blasts to highlight a big sale
Using emojis to highlight your brand’s latest sale isn’t exactly original. It’s almost expected. Add some color and personality to your sales promotions with emojis that convey excitement, urgency, exclusivity or money (the kind subscribers can save by clicking).
Each of the subject lines featured in the image below includes one or more emojis that grab attention—the police alarm, an hourglass, money bags, exclamation points, celebrations signs, happy faces and similar general emojis.
Check out Bath & Body Works’ emoji action. The brand creates a colorful and engaging subject line that alerts subscribers to an upcoming sale and prompts them to open the retailer’s message.
Keep an eye out for these emojis in your inbox and compare them to sales promotions and messages that use product-related emojis, capital letters, numbers and percentage signs to attract attention.
Even better, A/B test subject line variations that include emojis with ones that don’t and see which tactics work best with each of your audience segments.
Add emojis to share seasonal themes and holiday spirit with your subscribers
Emojis that reference seasons, special occasions and holidays are fun and immediately inform your subscribers that the message is about a timely topic. An emoji in your inbox display acknowledges that your subscribers are in a festive mood and communicates that you are, too!
And, like other emojis, we’ve developed a shared understanding of their meaning over time. The bunny face 🐰 is for Easter, hearts are Valentine’s Day (of course), and Mother’s Day marketing emails get their share of hearts in the subject line and preview text, along with flower bouquets 💐 and gift boxes.
Emojis in the subject line and preview copy can capture your subscribers’ attention, convince them to open your email and set the tone for what they’ll find inside.
Now, let’s look at how marketers use emojis inside their emails to continue the conversation.
Examples of emojis used to add interest to email body copy
Emojis can add visual interest to the text in the body of your emails and improve your subscribers’ experiences with your brand.
Follow strategies similar to those you use for subject line emojis and add emojis to your copy that demonstrate humor or humility, empathy and friendship. Add context or emphasis through the use of inline emojis to support your brand identity.
Here are some of my favorite examples of brands using emojis in the body of their emails to convey context and emotion.
📧 Social media scheduler Later sprinkles smiling faces and other emojis throughout its email to show its personality and set a friendly tone.
📧 Business publisher Morning Brew has fun adding amusing or unusual emojis (like the skunk emoji in the example below) in the body of its Sidekick newsletter to highlight sections of the text.
📧 Startup incubator Y Combinator applies a light hand when adding emojis to its newsletter. With a few emojis, the brand draws the reader’s eye and adds context to the content. Notice the briefcase emoji denoting the “Jobs” section?
📧 Nature-friendly emojis fill this informational newsletter from sustainable products retailer Net Zero Co. The emoji selections are on-brand and relevant to its eco-conscious audience while adding emphasis to its email newsletter’s content.
📧 Travel tipster Skyscanner’s email contains lots of attractive images of travel destinations, which could leave the copy feeling a little plain. The brand brightens up the text and balances the email’s design with emojis that illustrate its text.
📧 Detour Coffee takes a new approach to using emojis, turning them into tiny icons to illustrate the brand’s coffee rating system. Emojis are a clever way to communicate the meaning of each category.
Emojis are an excellent device to supplement your messages’ visual hierarchy. Along with headings, fonts and other graphic features, these little digital way finders keep readers engaged and moving forward in your emails toward the all-important CTA.
📧 This email newsletter from Ariyh clues readers into what each section is about through the use of text and an emoji. A different emoji designates sections of the newsletter including recommendations, limitations and steps for implementation.
The newsletter also uses emojis to identify other data such as research links and additional resources.
What to watch out for when using emojis in marketing emails
Incorporating emojis into your email newsletters and blast campaigns can improve your connection to and communications with subscribers. But there are some pitfalls you’ll need to avoid.
First, do your homework. Don’t begin using a new-to-you emoji without researching its current meaning (intended and otherwise). Evaluate the meaning of your selected emojis in your geographic region and in other regions where you plan to use it.
Remember that the meaning of an emoji may differ between age groups and across platforms and contexts (such as personal versus professional communications), as well.
Emojis that are commonly misunderstood or have more than one meaning
|😇 (smiling face with halo)||A sign of death or just a happy little angel.|
|😵(face with crossed out eyes)||The crossed-out eyes face is rendered with x’s for eyes on many devices (instead of spirals). This can change the meaning from dizzy or confused to dead depending on the recipient.|
|🍑, 🍆 (peach, eggplant)||Sometimes fruits and vegetables are used as stand-ins for other objects.|
|😘 (wink and kiss)||The wink and kiss, and similar emojis, may be perceived as signals of platonic or romantic affection.|
|🙏 (folded hands)||This ‘hands pressed together’ emoji may mean praying, bless you, thank you, please or a high-five depending on the sender and the context.|
|🖐, 👊,✊, 🤘 (high five, oncoming fist, raise fist, sign of the horns)||Hand gestures that are perceived as positive signals in one country or culture may be a sign of aggression in another.|
|🙂 (slightly smiley face)||It’s a smile, right? 14% of people globally read this as a sign of deep exasperation or mistrust because it’s not a big smile. 🙄|
|💸 (money with wings)||Easy come, easy go. Some people think the flying money in this emoji is headed their way, others think it is leaving them.|
|💅(nail polish)||The nail polish emoji may mean self-care such as getting a manicure. It can also be a reference to gossip because people often spill the tea while at the salon.|
|😭(loud crying face)||For some people this one means crying. Younger people use it as the new LOL because 😂 (face with tears of joy) is so done.|
|🥑 (avocado)||People may call you an avocado because you’re mainstream (ya’ basic) or because you’re the better half of a relationship.|
|🍃 (leaf fluttering in the wind)||This particular leaf emoji signifies a special kind of weed to some viewers.|
|💁 (person tipping hand)||The person with one hand tipped may be sharing information, saying they don’t care or just feeling sassy.|
|🙃 (upside-down face)||An upside down smile may communicate silliness or sarcasm–a big difference in intent.|
|🤡 (clown face)||The clown face emoji may mean you’re being funny or you’re creepy. I guess it depends on how you and the recipient feel about clowns.|
Maybe you already know about these extra meanings.
If you didn’t, take this as a sign that you need to brush up on your emoji lore before you step beyond the tried and true when using emojis in your email messages.
Periodically re-check the reputations of the emojis you use and add an emoji-review to your template audits. How people use and interpret an emoji can change fast.
Next, once you’ve added an emoji to your subject line, preview text or email’s body, preview the results. Make sure the emoji or emojis you’ve selected render properly for different devices and operating systems.
Also, when it comes to getting attention, be careful what you wish for. Emojis amplify your content–both the good and the bad. An emoji that draws attention to a bad subject line isn’t doing you any favors.
Emojis have a contagion effect, too. Positive emojis may lift a recipient’s mood but negative ones ☹️ will bring them down. So be cautious about using emojis that may be interpreted negatively.
Finally, keep an eye on your emoji-included emails’ engagement metrics and other key performance indicators. Emojis alone shouldn’t trigger email service providers’ spam filters. However, over-emojification can be a spam signal that tips the scales against you if your messages have other spam-like elements, too.
8 best practices for using emojis in your brand’s email marketing campaigns
- Make data-backed decisions about whether to use emojis in your brand’s email messages. Past performance and industry statistics about emojis should be your starting point but not the end of your evaluation process.
Conduct audience research and perform A/B testing to gain data about whether emojis improve your email campaigns’ performances. Start by testing subject lines and messages with or without emojis. Then narrow your testing to compare the emojis used, and their quantity and placement.
Remember to test emoji use with different audience segments, too.
- Don’t go overboard with emojis. When your email’s subject line or body contains more emojis than words or long strings of emojis, these characters become the main attraction. This can distract from your message, make it difficult for subscribers to read and understand your copy, and appear spammy.
Of course, there’s always room for exceptions. This subject line from maternity clothing retailer Storq breaks the “not too many emojis” rule but with a purpose. The subject line is a quote from a shopper’s review and the five stars is a classic review signal.
- Choose your emojis purposefully. Use images that complement your copy and add context or convey emotion. Look beyond the standard top ten emojis to find ones that add value as well as visual interest. Stick with positive emojis to inspire positive reactions from your subscribers.
- Test your emojis’ appearance across different devices and email clients. Ensure that every subscriber’s messages look the way you planned. If an emoji is critical to your message, add a description to the plain text version in the email’s HTML packet.
- Watch out for easy-to-confuse emojis! Editing menus and emoji keyboards make selecting an emoji to insert into your email easy. However, these tools don’t always include the pictograph’s written description. This can get you in trouble if you select the wrong flag to represent a nation or mistake a negative emoji for a positive.
To ensure that you’ve got the right emoji for the job, use a resource like Unicode’s Full Emoji list or Emojipedia to double-check your emoji’s meaning.
- Keep screen readers and accessibility for those with visual impairments in mind when placing emojis in your email subject lines or body copy. A row of “dancing women” may look good to you, but your subscribers who use screen readers to consume your emails may be underwhelmed by the experience of hearing your message.
Even though it can be tempting to use emojis to save space, especially in your subject lines. Avoid using emojis in place of words in your copy, as they may not render or register with screen readers.
Will your “Time is running out!” headline resonate if it says, “ is running out!” instead?
- Create a brand guide for emoji use that lists acceptable and unacceptable emojis. Update your guide regularly and add new emojis as they’re released. Maybe World Emoji Day, June 17, would be a good day to schedule your annual email emoji audit.
- Think about diversity and inclusivity when selecting your emojis. Use a variety of people and emotion emojis to represent everyone in your audience and be mindful of cultural differences in interpretations.
Email marketers, go forth and emote!
Don’t just tell your subscribers who you are and what you’re talking about; show them with the perfect emoji.
And, to help you gain the time you’ll need to find just the right emoji every time, check out our amazing guide to email automations. In it, you’ll find 32 examples of automated email campaigns you can design and personalize for your audiences.