Are you using Emojis in Email Marketing Campaigns?

When Apple launched iOS 5 back in 2011 with a never-before-seen emoji keyboard feature, user communication transformed overnight, and it has not slowed down since. Ninety-two percent of consumers online use emojis while communicating. Emoji use in mobile and email marketing messages has also increased by a whopping 775% year-over-year.

This knowledge raises significant implications for brands and marketers alike. If we are serious about meeting consumers where they are, we must consider the impact that these small digitized graphics have on consumer behavior and decision making. According to an Adobe 2021 Global Emoji trend report, 42% of global emoji users are more likely to purchase products advertised with emojis. Open rates and click-through rates for emails containing emojis in the subject line are 56% and 28% higher respectively. Sixty percent of global emoji users are also more likely to open an email or push notification with an emoji in the message, especially if it is their favorite emoji. Your trusted team at Marriner Marketing is here to simplify the research, so you can start using emojis effectively in email subject lines to increase your open rates and support conversions. Read all the way to the end for four tangible best practices when using emojis for email marketing.

Emojis Vs. Emoticons

First thing’s first, it is important to note the difference between emoji and emoticons, as the terms are often falsely used interchangeably. According to SocialBee, emoticons are a combination of punctuation marks, letters, and numbers that create pictorial icons to express emotion. Fun fact, the word emoticon derives from the words emotional and icon. Common examples of emoticons include the “smiley face” :), “frowning face” :(, and  “winking face” ;). While emoticons can be created from a standard QWERTY keyboard, emojis require a unique keyboard. Emojis are pictographs often displayed as yellow cartoon faces interpreting various facial expressions, and can also be symbols of animals, food, sports, buildings, and other objects. According to Dell Technologies, the word emoji originates from a combination of the Japanese word e, meaning picture, and moji, meaning character. Commonly used examples of emojis include the following: 😂 🎉 😍 ❤️️. Emojis are often described as a more evolved version of emoticons. The iconic “Face with Tears of Joy” 😂 emoji was even named “Word of the Year” by Oxford Dictionaries in 2015, the first time an emoji had ever received such recognition and honor. Emojis have earned a higher degree of visibility and influence than emoticons. Therefore, we recommend using emojis over emoticons for email marketing.

Is a Picture Really Worth 1,000 Words?

Or better yet, do emojis have the potential to outperform words when creating meaningful messages? The general public seems to think so. According to SocialBee, 75% of men and 84% of women think emojis are a better method of expressing emotion than words. Emojis are widely successful at expressing emotion because of a universality that disarms language barriers across cultures. Human beings share an innate understanding of facial expressions, which connects people at all ends of the globe in a way that oral and written communication cannot match. Emojis mimic these expressions in cartoon or graphic form, which offers an advantage for storytelling and grabbing attention quicker. Emojis that do not display a facial expression are also valuable because humans process visuals 60,000 times faster than written text. The human brain also retains 80% of images we see as opposed to 20% of written text. Emojis may be small, but the statistics prove that they can have a mighty impact on how we digest, interpret and retain information.

Emojis in Email Marketing: Best Practices

Now that we understand how effective emoji communication can be, the magic ✨ starts when we can use them correctly in email subject lines to generate higher open rates and conversions. According to a study from Marketo Engage by Adobe, an optimal length for subject lines is 41 characters, or seven words long. Including emojis that best align with your brand can help get the topic of your email across with fewer words while compelling users to pry your emails open! Here are some helpful best practices to consider as you get started.

How Many Emojis Should I Use in an Email Subject Line?

Too much of any good thing becomes…well…not so good. The last thing you want is for your email subject line to trigger a delivery straight into the spam folder. We recommend using one highly relevant emoji that adds emphasis to the intended message. For example, adding a 🎄 for a holiday promotion or a ❤️️ for a Valentine’s Day recipe planner offers a subtle yet effective enhancement to the subject line. Avoid using multiple emojis in your subject lines.

Place Emojis in Subject Lines as Punctuation

A great rule of thumb for placement of emojis is either at the end of the subject line or immediately after the word that the emoji pertains to. Your subject lines must still follow one cohesive thought, so be thoughtful 💭 of where you include added messaging to ensure it 🌪 does not disrupt or distract.

Be Certain You Know an Emoji’s Explicit and Implicit Meaning Before Using It

There are currently 3,363 emojis in existence under Unicode version 14. That may appear like a daunting number, but the good news is you don’t need to and should not use every single emoji on the face of the 🌎. Sift through the ones that make logical sense to use for your brand and be aware of how the public uses it to ensure it is not associated with any inappropriate implicit message. If you represent a produce brand for example, it may appear initially harmless to use a 🍑 emoji in an email subject line. Unfortunately, popular culture has ascribed a less innocent meaning to it, so it’s important to do your research!

Conduct A/B Testing Often

A successful email marketing campaign requires close and intentional monitoring to understand your subscriber base and the type of messaging they respond to best. Testing subject lines regularly with segments of your full email recipient list is a great strategy to figure out which keywords resonate most with your audience. Threading in emojis can also offer key insight into metric performance. We recommend A/B testing emails with the same content but different subject lines: ones with emojis for added emphasis to keywords and others without. This will help indicate if any trends develop that impact better open rates, click-through rates and click-to-open rates over time.

The Bottom Line

There are many reasons and measurable statistics that support including emojis into your subject lines. If your brand could use some additional guidance or support from a team that is well-versed in effective email marketing campaigns, reach out to David Melnick, Partner/EVP of Brand Integration (410.336.1000). We would love to help your brand reach its North Star 🌟 and greatest potential.


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Clement, Moss. (2022, March 5). How to Use Emojis In Your Content Strategy to Improve Conversions

Responsive Inbound Marketing (2022). Do Emojis in Emails Really Work?

Alexandra (2021, December 23). Copywriting for Social Media: When to Use Emojis for Marketing

Liquified Creative (2022, May 29). Should you use emojis in email marketing?

McShane, L., Pancer, E., Poole, M., Deng, Q. (2022, January 31). Emoji, Playfulness, and Brand Engagement on Twitter.

SoCrowd Blog (2021, September 16). Do emojis belong in B2B social media?


Martha (2022, February 22). How Fast Does The Brain Process Images Vs Words?

Dell Technologies (2022, May 2). How Emojis Have Made Their Way into Business

Campaign Monitor (2021, December 2). How to Determine the Best Length for Your Email Subject Lines

WebNots (2022, April 26). How Many Emojis are There in Total? (Emoji Count)

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