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The Real Scoop on Email Emoji in Subject Lines

KIM STIGLITZ - OCT 9, 2015

Do you ❤︎ emoji? It seems an increasing number of brands do. All kinds of businesses are jumping on the emoji bandwagon. Even Facebook recently announced Reactions, which enables users to add emoji alongside the usual thumbs-up icon.

Have you looked at your inbox lately? Emoji are showing up more and more frequently, specifically in email subject lines.

Whether you’re thinking about adding emoji to your email subject lines or already have, in this post we’ll cover the benefits of emoji, what you should consider before using them, and give you tips to help you engage your subscribers and get them opening your email campaigns.

The benefits of emoji in subject lines

Why is everyone so keen on emojis? It’s not just because they’re cute, emojis can actually have some big benefits including:

Increased open rates

Fifty-six percent of brands using emoji in their email subject lines had a higher unique open rate, according to a report by Experian.

We noticed that Growth Hackers has recently begun using only emojis (and no text) in their subject lines (a pretty bold move!) and pairing that with text via their preheader. We reached out to Anuj Adhiya, Director of Engagement and Analytics, to see how this new tactic is working and Adhiya said that though the tactic is new, they are seeing more recipients opening the emails (and they have a couple of theories on why). This, in turn, is translating to more clicks on email content. He noted they are still trying to understand other impacts but are encouraged enough to keep using emoji for the time being.

Save space

Space is at a premium with subject lines, especially considering the increased number of email opens on mobile devices. If you want your entire subject line to fit on a mobile device, you have about 30-40 characters to use max. And emoji can save space. You can say a lot with an emoji, and it only takes up one character.

Convey emotion

Brands are constantly working to make an emotional connection with their customers. Words can’t always convey emotion, but emoji sure can.

Stand out in a crowded inbox

Inboxes are increasingly full, making it an ongoing effort for your emails to stand out. Take a look at the two subject lines below. The first one, without emoji, is from Ticketmaster. The second one, with three emojsi, is from Minibar. Which one catches your eye? The one with the emoji, of course.

 

Things to consider before using emoji

There’s a lot of ? for emoji these days, but it’s not all good. Emojis aren’t for everyone. Before you add them to your subject lines, you should consider the following:

Tone

Will emoji fit your tone? If you have a serious brand, say one that handles financial data, emoji might seem unprofessional to your customers. Ask yourself if quirky symbols or smiley faces fit your brand and make sure you test on small segments of your audience to measure how your larger subscriber base will react.

Audience demographics

If you market to millennials, emoji may hit the mark because they’ve become part of their daily life. That’s not to say that older customers won’t embrace them, but if you market to an older population who may not find them engaging, be sure to test before you go full-force.

Potential rendering issues

From 😀 to ☃, there are hundreds of emoji to choose from, but not all of them show up properly on different mobile devices and email clients. If this happens, subscribers may see this ▢ or just the word ‘emoji’ instead of your intended icon. That’s not cool. How do you know which email clients are particularly problematic for emoji? We have a handy chart that breaks down which email clients display emoji properly.

All of the email clients with the green check mark display emoji correctly. Most of the big email clients like Gmail, Yahoo!, and Hotmail don’t have any issues with emoji. Outlook.com and iPhone/iPad sometimes convert symbols into the word ‘emoji.’ Outlook 2003 doesn’t support emoji at all. That’s when this ▢ will show up. This shouldn’t stop you from trying emoji; it just means you should test them first to make sure everything looks good.

Get the guide to using emoji and symbols in your email subject lines

Tips to use emoji well

Now that you’re pumped and ready to dive into the emoji craze, let’s talk about a few best practices. Here are some tips to make sure you use emoji in a way that engages your audience:

Use online sites to find emoji

Aren’t sure where to find emoji? You can ?that off your list by turning to sites like Copypastecharcater.com, Megaemoji.com or Fsymbols. Here’s a list of places to find icons too. Simply copy the emoji that you want and paste it into your subject line.

Use popular options

The folks at Econsultancy revealed the top and bottom three emoji that can affect your email open rates. Who knew the snowman was so compelling?

Make it relevant

With so many emoji, you can usually find one that will complement your message. You don’t have to rely on the most popular emoji every time. For example, Tynker, a business that offers programming courses for kids, uses a school bus in a recent email subject line to promote a back-to-school campaign.

Be creative

Emoji give you creative freedom. Embrace it. Pottery Barn, for example, used a watch in a recent subject line to signify the limited time left on a sale.

BevMo sets its subject line apart by personalizing the subject line and adding stars at each end.

 

Test to make sure your audience responds well

We mentioned testing emoji, but it’s worth repeating. Before using emoji, run split tests to see how your customers react to them. In a split test, you’ll send one group of customers an email with an emoji in the subject line, and send another group the same email minus the emoji. You can use the difference in open rate to decide whether emoji are a good fit for your audience.

Test to make sure emoji display properly

Before you send your email out to a large group, you’ll want to see how emoji render in different email clients. For Campaign Monitor customers, you can use our Inbox Preview feature to see previews of your email in over 25 different email clients before sending your campaign to ensure your email looks. It’s better to catch the problem early and troubleshoot before you send the email to your subscribers.

Don’t go overboard

While you might be on the emoji bandwagon, these fun little images aren’t something you want in every subject line or you’ll risk emoji-burnout. Basically, don’t go overboard.

Wrap up

Emoji can add visual flair to your email subject lines and engage your subscribers compelling them to open your email. Use them wisely and you can reap the rewards. Check out our guide to using emoji and symbols in your email subject lines for more helpful tips.

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