RAAK_Blog-Header_A guide to using emojis in email marketing

A guide to using emojis in email marketing

In the past, emojis were seen as a fun (and admittedly, plain silly) way to liven up texts and emails. When using the tiny faces, your message was considered informal and even a bit childish. But those days seem to be gone. Emojis have solidified their place in the email marketing world. But sure not to use them carelessly. Well-thought-out use is recommended. Here’s our little practical guide…

Emojis were first used in 1982 and were known as ‘emoticons’ back then. They were the typographic equivalent of a facial expression and were used in a text-only environment. In 1999, the emoticons evolved into emojis when the typographic versions changed into tiny symbols with facial expressions. By the start of the new millennium, there were 176 different symbols. Today, that number has increased to to 1282. Emojis must be encoded into Unicode for them to be visible across different devices and operating systems. Unicode provides every emoji with a unique number, so the character is shown properly - no matter which platform, program or language.

Since it has become easier for email marketers to use emojis, they are often applied to make subject lines stand out in inboxes. Brands regularly using emojis in their subject lines have seen an increase of as much as 45% of their unique open rates. But as always, the unwritten  rule “less is more” applies: don’t just pump your subject lines full of emojis, without thinking it through first. Here are some guidelines to prevent your emails from committing emoji-cide…

Always keep the main purpose of using an emoji in mind. It can help you to emphasize a topic or add some playfulness to your subject line or email. But if your email has a rather serious topic, your email might not benefit from the use of emojis. Also make sure the emojis you are using are relevant. Don’t just throw in some heart or star symbols just for the sake of using one. Make sure it complements your subject line or email and the character serves to emphasize to your message.

Be sure to know your audience, before you decide to start sending emails with emojis in them. Millennials will react to the tiny symbols quite differently than older generations. If your database holds contacts of all different age groups, it may be wise to A/B-test versions with and without emojis. When the email with symbols keeps coming up as the winner, test which emojis get the best reactions from your audience.

Don’t replace important copy with emojis. Simply because people don’t always read them as words. For example, if you’re using the subject line “10 things you will ❤ about email marketing”, it’s likely a part of your audience will read it as “10 things you will heart about email marketing” or even worse “10 things you will … about email marketing”. To prevent this from happening, you could choose the following option, which puts a double emphasis on the ‘love’ aspect: “❤ 10 things you will love about email marketing!”

Each company has its own version of what the emoji descriptions should actually look like. This means one emoji can look a bit different across different operating systems. That’s why it is crucial to send test mails and review them on different platforms before hitting the send button. By doing so, you’ll be sure your emoji is conveying the right message on all different operating systems.



Using emojis in your subject lines and your emails can add visual flair to your campaigns and draw extra attention. This could result in better open rates. But be sure to use them wisely. They serve a purpose and are not just there for the sake of using emojis. Also keep track of how your audience responds to them. Check their age and use A/B-testing to determine how they are reacting to the little symbols. And finally, remember to test your emoji(s) prior to sending out your email, to avoid looking like a □ in your contacts’ inboxes.

Posted on
Jan 12, 2017