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Did you know that 6 billion text messages are sent in the U.S. every day? Crazy, right? Or maybe it isn’t so crazy anymore. You probably text a fair amount. I text a fair amount. Everyone I know texts a fair amount. In fact, it seems that texting is a much more preferred method of communication when it comes to the younger generations. Which got me thinking…

MINDSCAPE has done work for a variety of colleges over the years. And one strategy we have repeatedly employed is the nurturing of leads through email campaigns.  As I was scrolling through a few of our past campaigns, I realized that our click-through rates were fantastic. While our open rates were good, I couldn’t help but feel a little disappointed knowing that with a few more clicks, we might have converted a few more contacts into customers.

Knowing what I do about texting, I started to wonder if emojis could be effectively used in email subject lines to improve open rates. I haven’t yet conducted my own experiment on the topic, but I did a little research and made a few conclusions. Take a look.

Emojis stick out

In a world where the average office employee sends/receives 122 emails a day, you are going to want to stick out. There are plenty of ways to do this, such as personalization, making your email subject line the “perfect” length (spoiler alert: there is no perfect length), and adding in some convincing preview text. But most businesses have caught on to these practices. Emojis, however, are still on the cutting edge. Take a look at the subject lines below.

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Which of these is most noticeable? Which of these is your eye drawn to? I would guess “Testing the Fire Alarm Today” because that is the only email in the bunch I myself bothered to open.  Emojis give a monotonous inbox of black and white a little color. Even if you use a black and white image, an emoji can still provide a little variety! I for one am sick of the same old same old, and I bet your recipients are too.

Emojis show personality and personability

If you have read any post at all about email subject lines, you probably know that your subject lines (and emails themselves) should show personality and be somewhat personable. Once again, many suggest that using your recipient’s name is an excellent way to show personability and there are a plethora of ways to show personality (punctuation, capitalization, tone, diction, etc.). But in my personal opinion none of these things call for a reader to open your email quite like emojis do, and an emoji can show personality and personability at the same time.

Let’s tackle these things one at a time.

  • Personality: When sending an email, especially an automated email that will be received by hundreds of people, it can be incredibly hard to show personality. Words that might come across as light-hearted and casual to some, might come across as offensive or unprofessional to others. Punctuation that screams “friendly familiarity” to one person, might scream “disreputable buffoon” to another. And that undeniably clever play on words might only be undeniably clever to some (and my bets are on a small “some”).With an emoji, you can convey light-heartedness, friendliness, and even enhance a play on words (ex. You want a  me?  — admittedly this is still pretty bad).  Why toil over copy for an hour, when you can keep things clean and simply use an emoji to show a little brand personality?
  • Personability: The act of using an emoji in itself shows familiarity. Just as using a nickname, speaking with slang, and physical touch show friendliness, emojis signify a certain amount of comfortability. If you need proof, think of the people you use emojis with while texting. Or think of who you’d be comfortable sending an emoji to via email.

It should be noted that, like with anything else, emojis can be misused, but when used properly, they are a fantastic tool for showing brand personality and personability.


A picture is worth a thousand words

Communication is 55% body language, 38% is the tone of voice, and 7% is the actual words spoken. So when we communicate digitally, we lose roughly 93% of our meaning. Email subject lines not being particularly lengthy, there is plenty of opportunity for your message to be misinterpreted. Or at the very least, not fully understood.

If you want to supplement, enhance,  or solidify your message/meaning, an emoji can be a big help. Think of it like this: if you want to intensify your words in the physical realm, you pair them with a physical action. A person saying “I’m going to knock this one out of the park” might point far off into the distance, or mime the swinging of a bat. If you want to intensify your words in the digital world, you pair them with a digital image, one that represents tone, body language, or yes, even a physical action.

The Downside

With all of the above in mind, it seems like using emojis would be a pretty good idea, right? Well, there are a couple of things you need to be aware of before you decide to use them.

  1.  Not all browsers or operating systems will render emojis the same
  2. Depending on the recipient’s security system, emojis can trigger spam filters
  3. Emojis aren’t for every audience. They can come accross as unprofessional when used inappropriately. Be aware of your audience’s preferences.

Because of these things you should always test your emails before sending them out (this is something you should do regardless of if you are using emojis or not).

Email marketing being the power-house that it is, you need to do everything you can to compete for attention in the inbox. Using emojis could be the thing that works for you, so get out there and start testing! We’ll be coming at you with our results as soon as they’re in.

If you want to learn more about email marketing, or have a few questions on the subject, feel free to reach out to us. All you have to do is click below, let us know who you are and how to reach you, and we’ll get back to you as soon as we can.