Emojis in Email Marketing: Yay👍🏼 or Nay 👎🏼?

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A decade ago, there were only emoticons… and I was a sucker for them. 🙂

Some years later, emoticons evolved into emojis, and they’ve grown widely in popularity since. 

They have become an integral part of social media, messaging… and now, email marketing. They are so widely used that there is World Emoji Day. 

In 2015, the British Oxford Dictionary crowned 😂 as the word of the year.

🤯 = Mind blown!

What I like the most about emojis is that they break language barriers. They speak louder than words, and they can show your emotional state. 

But the million-dollar question is: are emojis effective in email marketing? 

EmojisーYay or Nay?

There’s no one right answer whether you should use emojis in your email marketing or not, but there’s plenty of data that shows the positive and negative impact of emojis.

If we ask our friends over Experian, they have found out in a survey that the open rate of email subject lines with emojis is 56% higher compared to plain subject lines. 

Emojis also make your email stand out from the rest of black-and-white plain subject lines. When used effectively with a compelling line, you can boost your email deliverability and click-through-rate. 

They also give your brand a personality and convey your messages more powerfully. 💪🏼

But… 

When you’re not careful, emojis can do more harm than good. 

The analysts in Nielsen Norman Group conducted a study that focused on how recipients respond to emails with emojis. In their research, they found some evidence that emails without emojis are perceived as more valuable. 

Furthermore, they found that email subject lines with emojis increase negative sentiment towards that email by 26%. 📈

And that’s bad. 

Email subject lines play a MASSIVE role in email marketing, and the last thing you want to happen is to make them look less attractive. 

You’re probably thinking by now…

What should I do then, Ross? Should I use emojis in email or not?

Here’s my take: 

Emojis are like pineapples in pizzas 🍕. Some love them, and others despise them. 

If you look at the data SalesForce has gathered, 2% of B2C emails contain emojis and other special characters. 

The point is, thousands of companies have been using emojis in their email for a reason: they hook recipients, increase CTR, improve email deliverability, and fun… IF used sparingly and effectively.

Let me tell you how I use emojis in my email marketing campaigns:

Use emojis wisely. 

There’s no faster way to bring your email deliverability downhill than to bombard your email lines with emojis. 

Writing ✍🏼 your 💁🏼‍♂️ email 💻subject line 💡 like 👍🏼 this 👇🏼 is 🙅🏼‍♀️bad.

My advice is: don’t use emojis just to jazz up your subject line. Instead, use them in a way that they add actual value to your message. Otherwise, your recipients may not take your email seriously.

At most times, email lines with too much emojis can trigger the spam trapーand being listed as spam hurts more than low open rates and CTR. 

Sure, two emojis won’t hurt your email deliverability. Yet, it’s always best to think about whether to stick with two emojis or if one emoji is enough to deliver your message. 

Use relevant emojis.

Did you know? 🤔 As of March 2020, there are 3,304 emojis. And with that amount, it’s easy to overuse them. 

The main goal of using emojis in emails is to draw your recipient’s attention to your message. They should add context or relevant emotional value to your content. 

Emojipedia provides a comprehensive list of emojis with their meaning. I urge you to learn more about emojis before using them.

For example, this ⚡can indicate flash sales, 🎁 depicts holidays, 📈 indicates business growth, and ❗ expresses urgency. 

Keep in mind that emojis aren’t just for aesthetics. Use them to deliver your message more powerfully



Emojis speak louder than words.

The great thing about emojis is that they’re universal. No matter where you’re from, you can easily understand each emoji’s context or emotional state.

Most of the time, one emoji is enough to express your thoughts. 🤣 

You can use emojis to be more creative with your message. For instance, if you’re running a special promo on your roses and chocolate, you can say: 


🌹 + 🍫 = $4 

Or it could be:

🍔+🍔+ 🍟 = $5

Consider your audience.

It’s not just about what emoji you use or how much of it you apply to your email, it’s also about whether your target audience likes them or not. 

Before adding this 😂or this 💖 to your email, you might want to ask yourself what your audience is like. 

Do you think they will enjoy emojis? Or will they see your message as less interesting? Do the emojis portray the content of your email?

It helps if you check the age range of your audience. To help you with that, here are some interesting facts about how each generation reacts to emojis:

  • 67% of people from the baby boomer generation (that’s what they’re calling it to people born between 1946 and 1964) like when businesses use emojis in the right context. 
  • 80% of Gen Y (a.k.a millennials) love emojis.
  • The other 80% of people don’t have any issues with emojis.

Segmenting your email can help you better curate emails targeted to each age range. You can create different versions of one email, one with one or no emojis for a particular age range, and the other with one or two emojis laser-targeted to the younger crowd.

Perform A/B Testing.

Will emails with emojis certainly work? 🤔

The type of emojis, amount of emojis, and your brand impact your email deliverability. 

So the best way to find out whether emojis are effective in your email marketing is to perform an A/B testing. 

When performing an A/B test, change just one element from one try to another. Try one email subject line, one with emoji and the other without. Then try different types of emojis and gradually change the amount of emojis. 

Repeat this process until you see a pattern of what performs best and what performs poorly.

Final Takeaway.

Emojis are here to stay. As more and more people use them, you can use them to your advantage. However, when deciding whether to use emojis in emails or not, it’s best to assess your brand and audience. 

When used deliberately, emojis can boost your open rate, CTRs, and sales. On the other hand, emojis can backfire and make your message seem less valuable. So make sure to use them wisely!

Are you new to email marketing? We’ve been in the industry for over 10 years, and email marketing is what we’re prominent at. If you need help with using emojis on your email campaigns or need assistance setting up your email campaign, feel free to contact us and see how we can help. 🤳🏼

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Ross Jenkins

Ross Jenkins

Ross Jenkins is the founder of DigitalME and is an ActiveCampaign Certified Consultant. He is ranked #1 on UpWork for his proficiency in digital marketing. DigitalME offers targeted digital solutions and is perfect for anyone who wants to increase leads, sales, and productivity through automation.