Emojis in Email Subject Lines — a Guide to Effective Usage

Emojis are a common form of communication these days. They’re found everywhere, from text messages to social media posts. Some people find them fun and appealing, while others feel they’re silly. You might be wondering, is it proper to use emojis in email subject lines? Like everything else in the digital world, it depends on the particular circumstance.

Emojis do have a place in email marketing – but their effectiveness depends on how you use them and who you’re sending such emails. If you’re unsure about using them, we’ve covered all your bases.

Let’s see how to use these small icons properly in email subject lines.

What Are Emojis?

Emojis are a series of ideograms, symbols, and pictographs used as “smileys” in texts and instant messages. These symbols take different forms and represent different emotions, facial expressions, and bodily motions. They indicate a wide range of feelings, from excitement and joy to sadness and irony.

Emojis provide an obvious and visual representation of an idea and create an emotional connection between a sender and a receiver. Emojis are growing in popularity – their conspicuous nature catches the reader’s attention and passes a message quicker than words.

Emojis in Email Subject Lines: How Effective?

So we’ve mentioned that emojis are attention-grabbing icons that stand out amidst a piece of text. Since they grab the reader’s attention, you would think they’ll automatically increase open rates when used in email subject lines, right?

Well, true, they catch the eye, but it doesn’t mean they’ll automatically make the recipient of your email take action.

Emojis are a way for businesses to instantly engage with their customers. However, the effectiveness of emojis in email subject lines depends on how it is used. Just like emojis can appeal to an audience, they can offend the reader when misused.

A wrong emoji will pass off the impression that your message is spam, and the recipients’ will ignore it. They might even delete it and mark your email address as spam!

Properly using emojis in email subject lines can capture the reader’s attention and cause them to take action. On the other hand, using the wrong emoji portrays your brand as cheap and unprofessional. Your audience will perceive your business as incompetent, and they’ll become less inclined to contact you.

Best Tips for Using Emojis in Email Subject Lines

The strategic use of an emoji in your email subject line can elicit the desired response. We can’t say the same for misusing or overusing it; a misuse portrays your message as spam. To avoid misusing emojis, take note of the following tips.

1. Less Is More

Using too many emojis in an email subject line is not equivalent to “too-much” success! Just like excessive punctuation is terrible for your subject line, including many emojis reduces the overall quality of your email.

Emojis should only be used to reinforce your original message and enhance its understanding. When used in moderation, emojis can make your email more effective.

2. Keep It Relevant

The best emojis for your email subject line are those related to the email in some way. Using a Christmas tree emoji when sending a holiday email to your prospect can be great for your campaign. The emoji you use must resonate with your audience.

The main goal behind your email subject line should help determine what kind of emoji you use. Use an emoji that helps reinforce your message, highlighting something specific that you are trying to get across in your email.

3. Consider Your Audience

The success of a subject line that uses emojis depends on who the email recipient is. It would help if you had an idea of how your audience will respond to emojis. Before you include an emoji in your subject line, consider the age group of your audience and how best they respond to emojis.

Younger audiences will likely respond better than older ones. However, this does not mean that you are not permitted to use emojis in cases where your audience is older. But, you should consider if it’s appropriate and what kinds are best. You might also consider using them for only special events and not with every email campaign.

While emojis can change text tone in several ways, every emoji makes the subject line less formal. For business-to-customer (B2C) emails, emojis can be significant. However, business-to-business (B2B) emails require a more professional tone.

Using emojis for B2B emails can be inappropriate and risky. Understanding your audience is key to successful email marketing.

4. Test

Knowing your audience is not enough. You’ll still not know how they’ll respond until you eventually add emojis to your subject lines. The best way to do it is to A/B test your subject lines.

Do this by testing one version of your subject line that has your chosen emoji against another version that’s without the emoji. Also, consider testing for the position of the emoji (i.e., at the beginning and the end of the text). Once you have done this a few times, you should be able to assess the impact that including an emoji has on open rates.

smileys and emojis of different kinds arranged in a row
Photo by Domingo Alvarez E on Unsplash

To Wrap Up

Whether or not emojis are successful when used in the email subject line depends on how they’re used. Emojis should not be used as an added decoration in email subject lines. They should be relevant to the content of the email and resonate with the audience. Also, avoid using too many emojis.

To know if your chosen emoji is effective, consider A/B testing different versions of your subject line. Test one version that has the emoji against another that doesn’t.

Abir is a data analyst and researcher. Among her interests are artificial intelligence, machine learning, and natural language processing. As a humanitarian and educator, she actively supports women in tech and promotes diversity.

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