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3 tips to improve your email marketing with emojis



Emojis. They’re everywhere in texts, instant messages and social media comments; but are they helpful to your email marketing? Are they harmful? And when is the perfect time to be using them? 


If you've tried different ways of spicing up your email subject lines, then you’ve probably tried or considered using adding emojis before. But taking a more considered approach will help you to identify what will work for your brand, and what won't.


Here are some key tips to help you improve your emoji usage and email open rates:


#1 Know the time and place to use emojis... by knowing your customers.


Emojis are a contextual tool - but what's the right context for your brand? You can lean on industry recommendations to a degree (for example, research has found it more effective to include emojis in seasonal or holiday related emails).


But it pays to define when and how often you want to use them for yourself, and to determine this you’ve got to know what your customers like to see (and don’t!).


Do a little research on your buyer personas. Understand how your subscribers might perceive your brand. Whatever their positive sentiments are, make sure that your emojis are going to highlight - and not challenge - that perception.


For example, if your brand is a little on the conservative side, you wouldn’t want to be sending any 🍻,💩 or especially 🍆 out to your customers. But emojis such as ☑️, ⭐️ or practical ones like ™️ could still spruce up your subject line a little, especially if you’re writing about not-so-thrilling topics like policy updates and want to bring some life into the heading.


The same goes for if you’re a “fun” brand - while that can be a real incentive to use emojis more often, going overboard with them can cause your engagement rate to take a nosedive, so you may want to err on the side of caution here and keep it to 1-2 per email.


Knowing what'll work for your brand and your customers will keep you on the money - but the road to get there can be littered with hits and misses.


Which brings us to our next point...


#2 AB test your emails with emojis.


According to research, using emojis in email subject lines can attract a 56% higher open rate than plain-text emails.


This sounds pretty amazing, but it isn’t a unifying rule. Emojis may not be everybody’s cup of tea 🍵. 


Instead of just adding them to all your emails and seeing if there's added uptake, find out if emojis are truly making a difference to your email open rate by AB testing your subject lines.


Send a totally plain-text email subject line to half your audience, and one containing emojis to the other half. Assuming you've kept everything else constant, there should be a discernible difference in the open rates - but if there isn't, keep trying with alternatives! That way, you're creating a benchmark of your methods (and behaving like a data-driven pro. 👌)


Perhaps you were on the right path all along, but just needed to use the emojis more sparingly or sensibly. Which reminds us - whatever you do...


#3 Don’t replace keywords in your email with emojis.


Emojis are there to complement your subject line - not to replace the super-important text in it (or in the email body, for that matter).


Even if your emoji may seem like it has the most obvious meaning in the world, it’s better not to leave any room for misinterpretation. They also render differently across different devices, which can be a very risky gamble if you’re depending on them to convey words.


So practice good emoji etiquette and treat emojis as the garnish to your main course. They are there to add a little flavour, lift the mood, convey positivity - but they are definitely no substitute for a punchy, compelling subject line or email copy.



Have you personally tried using emojis in your emails?

Remember the importance of figuring out your buyer persona first, to give emojis a context before you start adding them to subject lines. And once you have some feedback or stats to contemplate, keep AB testing and improving on what you've already learnt!


We’d love to hear about your experience with using emojis in your email marketing. Ask us anything - you can drop us a line here:

Ask Us Anything

The alphawhale (🐳) team


Christina Peng
Christina Peng
Christina is a content strategist with a digital marketing background. She loves bringing words to life and harbours an unwavering affection for 80's music and digital art.

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