From stars and snowflakes to smiling faces and smiling feces, we’ve fallen in love with emojis. While we regularly see emojis in texts and social media posts, these cute little icons are also valuable tools for email marketers.
What makes them so valuable? Perhaps it’s because emojis stand out in an inbox dominated by text. Maybe it’s because subscribers can process pictures exponentially faster than text. Or it could be because icons communicate emotion more effectively than text. What we know from testing is that strategically and sparingly adding an emoji to a subject line drives higher open rates.
Let’s look at just one case study. This past spring, Entertainment Cruise Productions ran a promotion for their email subscribers. Subscribers who booked a cabin on The 80s Cruise during a promotional period were entered to win an unlimited beverage package during the cruise. We split the list of recipients into two groups. Group A received a subject line with the clinking beer mug emoji, 🍻. Group B received a subject line with just text.
Group A: Book Early and You Could Win Unlimited Drinks! 🍻
Group B: Book Early and You Could Win Unlimited Drinks!
The group with the emoji had an 18 percent lift in open rates over the group without the emoji.
In a holiday email, a client tested the use of the Christmas tree emoji, 🎄. This time the emoji was used at the beginning of the subject line. Group A received an email with the emoji in the subject line, and group B received no emoji. Using the Christmas tree led to a 37 percent increase in open rates.
Things to Consider Before Adding Emojis to Subject Lines
A few emojis go a long way. We recommend that you add emojis to email subject lines only when they are relevant. Using too many subject line emojis or using them in all of your email could cause subscribers to perceive your email as spam.
Run tests to ensure your subscribers think you’re as fun and cute as you think you are. Conduct A/B split tests with group A receiving the subject line with the emoji and group B receiving no emoji. You’ll likely see a boost in opens (and subsequent clicks and conversions), but if you don’t, it’s best to cut back on emoji use.
Run rendering checks in as many live inboxes as possible. We’ve found Yahoo to be the trickiest email client to work with for emojis. Certain emojis appear as meaningless code in Yahoo. AOL can also be problematic as it will strip certain emojis from the subject line.
If this happens, you can either choose a different, more common emoji or exclude Yahoo or AOL subscribers from your main delivery and send them a version without the emoji. (Katey Charles Communications clients who need help with list exclusions can contact Tech Support for fast assistance.)
How to Add Emojis
If you can copy and paste, you can add an emoji to your email subject line! Simply highlight the emoji below and tap CTRL-C. Then place your cursor in the subject line field of your email marketing software and press CTRL-V.
A word of caution: Be sure to run rendering checks in as many live inboxes as possible. Different email clients render emojis differently. For example, some provide a color version while others are in black and white. Don’t rely on rendering simulation programs.
Here are a few of our favorite subject line emojis.
You can copy more emoji and symbol choices through the Facebook symbols website and on Wikipedia at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dingbat#Unicode and https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Miscellaneous_Symbols. Be sure to test these emojis before including them in a live email.
Note: These instructions apply to the email marketing software we offer to our clients, and may not apply to other email marketing programs.
We Can Help!
Want some help with your subject lines and overall subscriber engagement? We’d love to learn about your business so we can help you create email your subscribers want to receive. Tell us what you need by calling 314-918-8088, ext. 106, or emailing
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