How to use Emojis in Email?

 In About Email

Last week I received this in my inbox. The emoji sure caught my attention. But am not sure if a funny looking water gun emoji relates to the action thriller movies that are being promoted.

emoji in subject line
And check this, the water gun changes colours when I view in my mobile.

emoji in email - mobile view

As viewed on my iPhone.


2017 saw a lot of emojis

We’re all so obsessed with emojis. They have become a big part of our lives. Whether it’s the animated movie ‘The Emoji Movie’ or Apple’s latest iOS update where they introduced some new emojis including new faces, food and animals or Twitter’s upgraded search that includes emoji characters. Heck, we even have a ‘World Emoji Day’! Imagine the frenzied activity on Twitter and Facebook.

They seem to have made a headway into mainstream email marketing as well.

Emojis are a global trend that’s here to stay.

Love for emojis and symbols is as old as mankind

Come to think of it, this new found craze for emojis is actually not so new. In fact it dates 5,000 years back when our ancestors used pictograph hieroglyphics and cuneiform inscriptions as a means of communication.

emoji history
Emojis are like gestures in online communication; just as we use non-verbal cues like facial expressions and voice pitch in face-to-face conversations.

Emoji in Email

Emojis can do wonders to your email program. Here are few facts -

Use subject line tester to know how you can best use emojis in your email subject lines.
It can also identify whether your subject line and preview text are too short or too long and if they need any tweaks before sending. Plus, you can also see if your subject line has enough sentiments to drive email opens.

Here’s a how-to guide to add emojis in your email subject line.

Email campaigns with emojis – how do they perform?

With Halloween coming up this month, let’s see what kind of emojis were used last year for Halloween and how the email campaigns had performed. (Courtesy: ReturnPath)

emoji in email for halloween

The verdict: Emoji in email does increase the read rate. But not always. Also there’s no rhyme or reason as to why a particular emoji (in this case, a spider) performs well over the other (the skull). Sometimes, the text only campaigns fare better with higher read rate and inbox delivery rate.

What’s important is to use them with care and not overdo it.

Because according to a survey, 58 percent of 18- to 34-year-old adults said brands using emoji in email subject lines were “trying too hard.” The gun emoji in this case is one such example.

5 things you need to know about emojis in emails

  1. 1. Emojis needn’t be confined only to marketing emails. One would think of transactional emails as a “no-nonsense” serious email. Many B2B brands prefer to stay away from emojis in emails, but emojis can be used smartly even in transactional emails without causing any damage to the brand’s reputation or appearing to be too casual. Here’s one I recently received when I signed up for a webinar.
    emoji in webinar email
    On my iPhone, the emoji even shows the date of webinar. Isn’t that awesome?  The calendar emoticon clearly serves the purpose.
    emoji in email for webinar
    Here’s another one.
    emoji in email example
    And you’ll find some more for ecommerce here
  2. 2. Can your subscribers see emojis the way you want them to in your email? Emojis look different across different smartphone devices and operating systems. Here’s a sample:
    emoji different browsers
    Picture courtesy: motherboard.vice.comGet the full emoji list here
  3. So you'll want to be careful, as some of these interpretations could interfere with what you are trying to convey.
  4. 3. Emojis in subject line can trigger Spam filters. So we’ve all heard that emojis can increase open rates. As more and more marketers get ‘innovative’ and our inbox begins to look like one huge expression box, one aspect that shouldn’t be ignored by email marketers is the probability that emojis can trigger the spam filters. Gmail often delivers emails with animated emojis in subject lines in spam. So is it a ‘no no’ to use emojis in a subject line? Not completely. There’s no mention from reputable sources on this. My advice to you, is to test, keep an eye on it, and do not overdo it.
  5. 4. How to use emoji in email – some quick tips
    • Create the right effect by using emoji at the right place. Given the increasing use of mobile to view emails and the character restriction, it helps to have emoji in the beginning of subject line.
    • Don’t replace actual words with emojis, just in case there are rendering issues, which will result in your message not being conveyed.
    • Know your audience. Use of emoticons varies by geography, age, and gender.
  6. 5. How much is too much?  Emojis are known to have a psychological effect.

    Different regions of the brain light up when you're looking at emojis as compared to not looking at emojis

    Reading emojis make you socially receptive, empathetic and approachable. That said, it shouldn’t turn out to be a case of too many emojis, which may reverse the effect. According to a study published in the Journal of Language and Social Psychology, adding more than one of the same emoji appears to be a waste of time.

Best practices for emojis in a subject line

  1. 1. Choose the right emoji. Choosing the right emoji completely depends your content content, business and the tone you use in your emails. If your email has a serious tone or your contacts expect conservative content. you can use emojis like: the copyright symbol, the trademark symbol or the registered trademark symbol. It will not only help you convey your message but also make you stand out. You could also use the example above with the calendar symbol; a business reference that will be relevant.
  2. 2. Keep it relevant. You don’t want to use an emoji that isn’t going to help you convey your message. An emoji works best when they are relevant to the content of your email. Seasons and holidays are the easiest way to use emojis. Being in the moment and relevant in transactional messages could be flight information (a plane), hotel reservations (a calendar), subscription confirmations (a check mark), or any number of things.
  3. 3. Express your emotions. The best way to convey your emotions is by using the emoticon emojis that use faces to express emotion.
  4. 4. Do not send your email without testing it. Lastly, never forget to test the subject line before sending it out to your recipients. Check if the emojis are rendered differently across email clients.

Popular emojis

Registered Trademark ®
Red Heart ?
Loudspeaker ?
Delivery Truck ?
Trade Mark
Party Popper ?
Smiling with mouth open ?
Airplane ✈️
Wrapped Present ?


Emojis are a superb and effective way of communicating with your recipients. It grabs their attention leading to higher open rates.

If you have used emojis in your subject lines before, we would love to know in the comments below how it has worked for you.

Recommended Read:

Check if emails from your domain are landing in Spam - Email Blacklist Tool


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