Emoji: Adding an element of creative fun in your email marketing

This week, people around the globe celebrated World Emoji Day. With more than 3,000 emoji to choose from, there’s seemingly one for any possible scenario.

Think about the last time you used an emoji. Was it this morning? An hour ago? Within the last 5 minutes? I use them so often that they have replaced typing full words. Who needs extra characters anyway?

The brand benefits of using emoji

Now even digital marketers have gotten in on the fun, and for good reason. They can help with your brand’s marketing in a number of ways, like:

  1. Developing an emotional connection that can tie to measurable customer engagement

    Emoji make it easier to say what we’re thinking and add an element of fun to our everyday communication. Sparking positive emotions can help your customers emotionally connect with your brand. This is powerful in a marketing context because emotions have a strong influence on what people buy.

    Emoji can also increase measurable customer engagement, but only when the content is already good. A study from Phrasee found that emoji in subject lines will “make a bad subject line worse, and a good subject line better.” So while emoji did increase engagement in 60% of campaigns, it’s always important to think about the quality of your content and make sure you’re measuring engagement metrics.

  2. Building a bridge between the digital and physical worlds

    Emoji began in the digital world, but brands have brought the concept to the physical world. For example, Pepsi’s ‘Pepsimojis’ are used not only online but also on their packaging. This tactic bridges retail marketing and digital marketing, all without words. The visual communication creates consistency channels, both online and offline.

    Image credit: https://www.marketing-interactive.com/pepsi-rolls-out-global-pepsimoji-campaign/

  3. Making brand advocacy and recognition easy for consumers

When people relate a certain emoji to your brand, it can make it easy for them to share their love. Branded emojis are one way to do this on social media that has been successful for many brands.

Dunkin’ for example, released their new set of emoji around National Donut Day, encouraging people to #DunkOut in order to see the cute coffee emoji.

The Bachelorette, which is uber-popular right now, also has a branded emoji of a woman holding a rose that unlocks when people type #TheBachelorette.

Both of these examples make it easy for fans to share their favorite brands and shows, all while getting other people in on the fun.

Now that we understand the benefits emoji add to your marketing campaigns, let’s take a look at some best practices.

How can you include emoji in your creative email marketing plan?

Here are a few tips:

  1. Incorporate them into subject lines

    Subject lines are the first way to grab your email subscribers’ attention, and a fun emoji can be the perfect way to do that.

    Brandless uses emoji in almost all of their email subject lines, choosing icons that correspond with whatever the topic is. For this BBQ season email, they use the steak and corn emoji to encourage people to check out their grilling supplies.

  2. Be consistent with your usage

    You know you’ve struck gold when your subscribers associate a certain emoji with your brand. Building these connections lets customers know what to expect from you, which simplifies their path to purchase.

    For example, when I see the red exclamation mark (❗) in my inbox, I know that Express has a limited time sale.

    Same goes for the lightning bolt emoji for Michael’s craft store sales.

    Whether your customers are expecting a discount or looking for a specific item, make sure subscribers know what they’re getting when they see a certain emoji from your brand.

  3. But don’t overuse emoji!
    While emoji can drive engagement you don’t want to overuse them. Using a few emoji to get your point across can be cute or informative, but adding multiple emoji to every sentence or every email is just annoying and unprofessional. Pick the important moments and campaigns that lend themselves to this content.
  4. Check how emoji will render in the inbox
    Review how emoji are supported in different email providers, like Outlook, Gmail and Yahoo, and how they will render across your customer’s inbox. Take the popular “Face With Tears of Joy” emoji for example:iPhone:
    Outlook: While it renders clearly in iPhone and Gmail, the sentiment is difficult to decipher on Outlook, so keep that in mind as you develop your next campaign.Also, make sure that your emoji will actually show up in your email. Otherwise, your subscribers will see the ▢ that appears when emoji are not supported.
  1. Consider how emoji become part of your creative and design
    Staying up-to-date is important in the design world, and emoji are one way to stay on-trend. Consider your editorial calendar, and decide what campaigns would benefit from an emoji, such as:

    1. Seasonal emails
    2. Holidays, including those that are relevant to your industry
    3. New product announcements
    4. Last minute deals

    Additionally, consider how you can incorporate emoji into your organization’s communications. To really have fun, you could have employees create their own Bitmoji (with guidelines) reflecting the value they bring to your company.

  2. Make emoji part of your content creation

    72% of millennials say it’s easier to convey feelings using emoji instead of words, so using emoji in your body copy can spark emotion and clarify what you’re trying to say. A wink (😉), for example, can indicate that your tone is playful, while an eye roll or upside-down face (🙃) can indicate sarcasm or a joke. Using more emoji within your text can build your brand voice.

    If you need help simplifying your email production process and developing content, Agility Harmony’s new visual editor can help marketers do just that. Easily create email content in a user-friendly drag and drop UI that is on brand and guaranteed to render flawlessly across all of your subscribers’ devices.

  3. Don’t forget to test
    Last but not least, test your emoji usage. Conduct your own A/B or multivariate testing to see which emoji are effective (or not) when it comes to customer engagement. Identifying the best ways to use emoji within the context of your brand’s marketing strategy will help you improve over time.

    Get on the emoji train 🚂

    Emoji are here to stay. Their use in everyday language, from texts and tweets to emails and digital ads, shows that their ease of use improves our communication. By using emoji in your emails strategy, you can form emotional connections with people and increase their engagement with your brand. Just make sure you keep those best practices in mind along the way. 😉

By Lauren Gentile, VP Executive Creative Director | Digital Solutions | EEC Member