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Article first published in January 2019, updated July 2019

Sure, emojis are the latest and greatest when it comes to fun ways to communicate a message between friends. However, did you know that the first emoji was created in 1999? The first 180 emojis were created by a coder employed by the Japanese mobile service provider, NTTDoCoMo. In the last 20 years, these little symbols have evolved from the standard smiley face to include everything from bugs to mermaids, and so much more. 

It wasn’t long before other mobile companies began to understand the popularity of emojis, and by 2010, they were incorporated into and standardized by Unicode, which allowed them to be used outside of Japan.

Since then, emojis have become a standard piece of mobile technology and has now become a major form of communication amongst the billions of people who use the internet worldwide. It wasn’t long before digital marketers recognized the trend and began pondering just how they could use them to relate to their audience members.

How do people use emojis and symbols in marketing? Marketing has become much more expressive thanks to emoticons. We’ve seen plenty of emojis and symbols in marketing that make us 🙂, but are emojis right for your marketing efforts?

Emoji marketing

Believe it or not, emoji marketing is quickly gaining traction as an actual term in digital marketing. This is because around 92% of internet users are now using emojis and other symbols during their everyday interactions. Not only are new emojis and symbols being created regularly, but many of the latest smartphone technologies now include an AR emoji or Animoji feature that can create unique emojis for users to use on their phones.

What makes emojis so great for marketing is their ability to break language barriers, since more people are using them and they generally hold the same meanings across multiple languages.

Another reason that emojis are great for marketing materials is that they create a more visual element and retain your consumers’ attention, something many brands admit to struggling with. Simply adding an emoji to your email subject line or social media post could increase your chances of engagement.

Use the infographic below to learn about emojis and symbols in marketing, as well as how you can use them in your own brand:

emojis and symbols in marketing

Should I use emojis in my email marketing?

If emojis are brand-appropriate, they can be great for promotional emails and seasonal messaging.

  • 2% of company emails sent to private clients contain emojis in the subject line. (Medium)
  • Specific emojis during specific periods of the year can significantly increase a mailing’s effectiveness. (Medium)
  • In some cases, subject lines containing emojis have a higher read rates than text-only subject lines. (Mobile Marketer)
  • 56% of brands using emojis in their email subject lines had a higher unique open rate. (Campaign Monitor)
  • Emojis in subject lines can trigger higher response rates than traditional email when used in the appropriate context. (Business Wire)
  • Using emojis in subject lines can help your subject line fit on mobile devices. (Campaign Monitor)

Consider integrating your social media and email marketing efforts.

Which emojis should I use in my marketing?

With thousands of emoji options, choose the right one for your message and marketing channel.

  • The 💩 “Smiling Poop” emoji got the highest read rate when used in email subject lines. (Mobile Marketer)
  • According to one study, the ❤️ “Red Heart” emoji generated a positive result across all test regions, garnering a 6% increase in opens. (MarTech)
  • The 😄 “Grinning Face With Smiling Eyes” emoji is the most used emoji on Facebook. (Lifewire)
  • The ❤️ “Red Heart” emoji is the most used emoji on Instagram. (Lifewire)
  • The 😂 “Face With Tears of Joy” emoji is the most used emoji on Twitter. (Lifewire)

Localization matters, even with emojis and symbols

Research your audience, since different locales use language and imagery differently.

  • Emojis have different meanings depending on the country (HSI): 🤗 The “Hugging Face” emoji is a funny shrug in Ireland and Canada, while it’s a hug in other countries. Likewise, 😐 the “Neutral Face” emoji is unamused in most countries, but it is neutral or content in Australia.

Below are some of the top consumers of email by nation (SendGrid), as well as the most tweeted emoji by that same country (Larry Kim):

  • U.S.: 😩 “Weary Face” emoji
  • U.K.: 😩 “Weary Face” emoji
  • Brazil: 🎶 “Musical Notes” emoji
  • France: 💘 “Heart with arrow” emoji
  • Canada: 😩 “Weary Face” emoji
  • India: 🙏 “Folded Hands” emoji
  • Germany: 👍 “Thumbs Up” emoji
  • Australia: 👍 “Thumbs Up” emoji
  • Mexico: 🙏 “Folded Hands” emoji

Things to consider for emojis in email

When using emojis in email marketing, keep in mind that if an emoji isn’t supported in the email client, the recipient may see a ☐ character instead.

Wrap up

Using emojis can be perfect when aligning marketing channels. They’re a colorful, approachable way to communicate.

However, it’s essential to consider how your emojis will be seen and understood. Pick emojis that will work best for your platforms and audience. Then, have fun with it and enjoy the extra clicks. 😊

Need more ideas on how to increase your email click-through rate? Try using our simple copywriting formula today!

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