How to use emojis in your marketing

Embrace the Emoji Revolution: how to use emojis in your marketing

by Alice Greenwood-Bliss, Junior Copywriter.

In 2022 we predicted that the use of emojis would continue to skyrocket, and emojis have in fact… done just that. Infiltrating marketing copy, even replacing words. You might be wondering how long will they last – are emojis a fad or an all-time favourite?

Econsultancy(1) conducted a study showing emoji use in email subject lines to work about 60% of the time (boosting open rates by about 25%). But, when they don’t work, they decrease open rates by the same 60%.

In push notifications, on the other hand, emojis can boost open rates by a whopping 85%(2). It’s clear the impact emojis can have. To attain that impact, brands need to understand and be up to date on appropriate emoji use, and know our target’s favourites.

Here’s why people love emojis:

While emojis should be used cautiously, there are many obvious and tested benefits to them.

Emojis are exciting and a way to be playful.

They bridge language barriers.

Emojis function as a universal language. Simply adding an expressive face to a subject line brings clarity for readers across the world. Even when words fail to convey the intended message, emojis can help to reinforce meaning, tone, and brand voice. Plus, while virtual communication styles are rapidly changing, getting the emojis right goes a long way.

They help your email standout in your audience’s inbox.

Emails standing out in the inbox

They humanise your brand.

Human connection is what makes people fall in love with brands. Whether they recognise a benefit for themselves, or they perceive a brand as personable or trustworthy, people are always connecting with the human element of the brand.

Emojis encourage consumers to make that human connection, as they associate emojis with emotional expression. They help to humanise the brand. Use emojis in the right way to add depth and realism to your copy and connect with customers in a fun and creative way.

Here's how you get them right:

Emoji use is an art. It’s an art in which we consider ourselves adept… But the evolution of emoji use is rapid and complex, so which emoji works once won’t always fly. Here’s some tips to stay ahead of the curve, and get it right, right now!

1. There’s a time and a place

Emojis are generally considered appropriate as a more informal way to communicate.

Affordable fashion retailer, Primark, use emojis everywhere in their social media posts. However, they don’t use any emojis on their LinkedIn posts, opting for a more formal tone to be consistent with a professional audience(2). And formality doesn’t just factor into the place you’re posting. Think about the formality of the tone in each post, what’s the intention of your message? For example, if your brand is addressing a serious issue such as making a public apology, emojis will seem insincere and make you very unpopular.

Generally, push notifications and email are good channels for emojis. Whereas while SMS marketing has been making gains in Europe and North America, it’s still the least popular channel for emoji use. Even so, brands like Doe Lashes, or Bones Coffee, use emojis in their SMS marketing as they are carefully personalised for the recipient(2). So, emojis are suited to more informal and familiar marketing messages.

However, while there is some general guidance we’ve provided, there are no hard and fast rules. This means that emoji use is exciting and experimental but can also be challenging. Read on to find out how to really get it right.

2. A/B Testing

There’s no better way to make sure something works than to test it! If you’re ever in doubt, play them both out. A/B testing allows you to compare two variations in marketing campaigns and find out which performs better. Test your copy to see if it performs better with emojis or without them. You can also use an Intelligent Content Optimiser to save you the manual work, while AI does A/B testing, in real-time, for you.

3. Be consistent

Your brand personality needs to be consistent. Consistency in your emoji use will present your brand as reliable. However, consistency doesn’t mean you can’t be creative. You don’t want to use the same tired emojis every time. You don’t have to be the same everywhere. You can still be experimental. Just make sure you use emojis that match your tone and your brand identity.

One way to be consistent is to be consistent with your target audience. Think about what your target audience want, and the context they will receive your marketing. Be considerate with your emoji use. Don’t suddenly throw them in where they’ve not appeared before.

4. Do your research

The best way to discover how to use emojis is to do your research. We’ve pulled together some of what we know to get you started. It’s important you know the meaning of the emojis you use so you’re not misinterpreted. We’ve made a list of emojis, what they mean, and what they do for you marketing. These results are according to a study of 19,617,281 HubSpot-published posts across LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Google Plus, and Instagram(3).

Emojis that boost engagement:
1. 🙆(Person Gesturing OK Emoji)
2. 🍒(Cherries Emoji)
3. 🐠(Tropical Fish Emoji)
4. 💃(Woman Dancing Emoji)
5. 🌤(Sun Behind Small Cloud Emoji)

Emojis which encourage click through:
1. 🐙(Octopus Emoji)
2. 🐴(Horse Face Emoji)
3. 👖(Jeans Emoji)
4. 🍒(Cherries Emoji)
5. 🚂(Locomotive Emoji)

HubSpot ran this study in February and engagement was measured by likes, comments, and shares, so they wondered if some of the engagement could be seasonal. They were surprised that these emojis did not include faces and were not the most used. They suggested that it could be their novelty that was driving engagement – which goes to show that randomness can sometimes even win out over consistency! What do you make of the results?

Will emojis last forever?

There are thousands more emojis out there. The meanings will change. More emojis will be created. You must change with them! We can’t predict the future, but emojis are still on the rise, and we think they’ll continue to be popular for the foreseeable future. While individual emojis dip in and out of popularity, they’re here to stay. Now we’ve given what you need to know, you can embrace the emoji revolution!

Ask our team about digital marketing support

As a specialist CRM marketing agency, we’re well versed at creating and implementing engaging multi-channel campaigns, and we pride ourselves on taking a ‘best practice’ approach to email. Speak to our team about creating the best customer journeys to support your business goals.