With “Googling” and “Emojing” working their respective ways into new dictionary entries, there’s no need to muse overmuch on the importance of the new age internet communication. With emails successfully topping the list of the most popular forms of communication for decades, it is not surprising that the three are capable of making some truly stunning combinations and paving the way for new types of connection with people scattered across the globe in years to come.
Fortunately, it is not upon us to make predictions. Our present focus is solely on emojis, albeit the term “solely” might be a bit of a stretch. Emojis have become such an essential factor in conveying emotions vis-à-vis emails that numerous studies have popped up to explain the importance of emojis in regard to one thing or another.
Unlike emoticons (no, they’re not the same thing as emojis) whose sole purpose is to depict facial representations and thus make the contents following subject lines predictable (for lack of a better word), emojis serve a variety of purposes, not rarely simply to annoy the recipient.
If you’ve gotten the impression that we are from the anti-emoji clan, you haven’t read between the lines. Emojis are a necessity, a constant, an image of human nature… and many other things besides.
Trust it to marketers to jump at every possible chance to boost their profits, and you’ll see where the discourse is going. Emojis have started appearing in email marketing subject lines and are likely to stay there for a while.
The Benefits of Emojis in Subject Lines
On top of them being considered “cute” by many, emojis also trigger increased open rates. In addition, they save space simply by conveying emotions that would otherwise have to be described in words.
It is a well-known fact that subject lines that are too long tend to annoy recipients, with the email not only not being opened and read but also being flagged as spam.
If we add to that, mobile devices display anywhere from 30 to 40 characters, so the benefits of emojis in subject lines become even more pronounced.
Emojis takes up only one character, which explains why they are being blatantly abused by less-experienced marketers.
If we observe email marketing campaigns in the same light as traditional marketing efforts (which they should be, in order to be successful), it will become obvious that emojis help senders connect with their customers.
Emails featuring emojis are more personal, and making your recipients feel special should be the very first goal of your email marketing campaigns.
It is important to keep in mind, however, that the emojis should fit the tone of the message. If you are into finance, i.e., emojis might be inappropriate. They are more likely to appear unprofessional than personal.
The above mentioned and demographics are the two most important factors to consider when deciding on the emojis to use in subject lines. The (in)famous millennials are known to love emojis, for example, so if they’re your target audience, you’re in luck.
Perhaps the most obvious benefit of the emojis in subject lines is that they make the message stand out in a crowded inbox (provided the inbox isn’t flooded with marketing offers).
Best Practices for Using Emojis in Subject Lines
Like all other marketing practices, the usage of emojis may be tricky depending on the scope of your business. It is essential to find the right balance, as to not overdo it (see below).
First, you should match the emojis with the tone of your message. If your emails are conservative in nature, best leave popular emojis out. You may still benefit from standard ones, such as the trademark and copyright symbol, for example.
Next, make certain that the emojis in the subject line match the emotion of the message. That is to say, don’t plaster an emoji to the subject line just because it is popular. Pre-meditate your selection for best results.
Last but not least, the emojis should directly relate to the subject line. That makes things easy for holiday promotions, but somewhat more difficult for regular newsletters. Best observe it in this way: the emoji should emphasize the idea. For best practice, add an emoji after the keyword.
Remember at all times that emojis should not make the reading difficult. Subject lines should flow smoothly, with emojis adding a zest.
One Emoji Just Might Not Be Enough
It doesn’t take a genius to deduce that some emojis following subject lines make sense. Free gift offers are logically connected to gift emojis, Valentine offers with hearts (no lack of those in all possible and impossible sizes and colors!), and so on and so forth.
Albeit, there are some cases of an exaggeration, professional marketers never make that mistake. In actual fact, research has shown that the full potential of multiple emoji combinations is yet to reach its peak. As ever, the case is linked to human psychology, and so far as we know, we are yet to discover much about our brains in times to come.
As regards to common associations, some common pairings naturally come to mind. Travel agencies, for example, often use the plane emoji. Not only does it suggest pleasant holidays, but it also refers to new interesting places, easy transportation, etc.
However, sometimes common sense tends to get tired. A great number of studies show that emojis from the same group (food, beverages, weather, animals…) are more frequently paired among themselves than with emojis from different groups. It may make sense for Pizza Hut, admittedly, but not for businesses from other industries.
Most Popular Emojis
With the variety of emojis to choose from (and let us not forget that the list is getting bigger by the day, if not by the very minute), the question of most popular emojis might appear difficult at first. However, once again relying on psychology may help. For one thing, people revere in positive emotions, so it shouldn’t come as a surprise that smileys, hearts, suns, gifts, and a variety of food and beverages are usually more than welcome, no matter what message they accompany.
Are We Overdoing It?
As for emojis in subject lines, simplicity wins. The picture below illustrates most popular emojis among Apple users (emojis are displayed differently on different devices, and in case of browsers not supporting Unicode, they’re not displayed at all):
It also turns out that cultures do have a say in the choice of favorite emojis. Facebook data show that Canadians and Australians cherish birthday wishes the most:
Bottom line? Personalization. Knowing your customers’ preferences is the best way to boost sales, and knowing their favorite emojis can only help in that matter.
Don’t Expect Miracles From Emojis
As the case of The Emoji Movie shows, not all emoji uses are welcome (or indeed tasteful). The movie proved to be a huge fiasco, even with some big-screen names behind it (take only Patrick Stewart (the Poop) as an example). To make things worse, it was the first animated film in 38 years to “win” the title of the worst picture of 2017 at the Golden Raspberry awards. The official statement reads that the movie showed “toxic-level lack of originality.”
Take note, marketers. For although emojis are all the rage these days, overdoing things is certain to backfire. Don’t overpopulate subject lines with the wannabe kawaii content; rather, do your research.
Marketing companies have spent incredulous amounts of time analyzing the use of emojis across countries, industries, media, and occasions. Many findings are conclusive and some common sense applies, too. I.e., going by emotions, the most popular emojis are ranked thusly:
- Emojis portraying joy (31 percent)
- Emojis portraying disgust (21 percent)
- Emojis portraying sadness (16 percent)
- Emojis portraying fear (15 percent)
- Emojis portraying surprise (10 percent)
- Emojis portraying anger (7 percent)
Mind The Display
One thing to keep in mind when it comes to emojis is that different devices and browsers display them differently. The infamous plain square everyone has seen way too many times is the thing you wish to avoid.
The easiest way to know if your emojis will be displayed properly is to send a test version of your message to your email account. Simply look at the message from different devices (desktop, laptop, mobile devices) and browsers (at least the most popular ones).
When you open the message in an email client, the emojis are displayed based on the client’s specifics. Different email clients may present emojis in a visually different way or not support them at all. Take Gmail as an example. It styles emojis in a more designed way than the more generic versions of, say, Yahoo and Outlook.
When accessing your inbox from a web browser, the emojis are displayed based on the web browser’s specifics. Commonly used emojis are mostly generic, with slight differences in coloring, rather than styling.
Finally, when accessing your inbox on a mobile device, the emojis are displayed based on the device’s specifics. Mobile devices usually alter the style of the emojis to match the look of their brand.
Simply put, emojis are like fonts. If your email recipients don’t have the font installed, a default version will be displayed instead. In the case of emojis, most often that means a generic square.
Instead of a conclusion, couple appropriate emojis with the message you’re trying to get across and watch the open rates boost. Mind your manners and don’t line up too many happy faces (visibility matters!).