how to use emojis in email marketing campaigns

Do’s and Don’ts of Using Emojis in Email Marketing

Copywriter Lesley Vos approaches a popular topic on our blog today: should we or should we not use emojis in email marketing? Read on to see what she has to say.

Here’s something we can both agree on: email marketing is among the most effective ways to get and retain customers. As we already know, it earns us a super high ROI: $44 for every dollar spent.

But there’s a catch.

About 80% of all emails stay unopened, which means we lose much more possible ROI. Realizing that, marketers appeal to the most potent weapon to capture users’ attention, make them open an email, and trigger an emotional response – personalization.

This never-ending trend upgrades from year to year, covering with new tools and strategies for skyrocket conversion. (Indeed, personalized and well-targeted emails are 6x times more convertible!)

And there’s one small yet powerful tool that makes our marketing emails look more appealing: emojis.

Why use emojis in email marketing?

Over 3.3 thousand emojis live on the internet today. More than that, hundreds of top brands already use emojis in their Facebook and Twitter communities, gradually shifting them to email communication.

No wonder.

Emojis are visually pleasing and eye-catching. They are the first thing users notice when getting an email.

Let’s take a look: Which of the subject lines was first to grab your attention?

emojis in email marketing
The effect of emojis in email marketing: your emails will stand out.

The benefits of using emojis in subject lines and preheaders are many:

  • Emojis grab attention and increase email open rate.
  • They boost brand awareness. Even if users don’t open an email, they start recognizing your brand by name and emoji you use. (It works like the Nudge Effect, able to influence a purchase decision in the long term.)
  • They save space. Given that most users open emails on mobile devices today, emojis help to reduce the number of characters to fit the mobile screen and yet deliver the message.

What about email bodies?

While your business can use plagiarism checkers to avoid duplications and copyright infringements in email texts, emojis are beyond this sphere. They make your email body look more like a personal story than a marketing message, leading to a higher response rate.

Plus, emojis increase your chances to reach people’s inboxes. Anti-spamming algorithms recognize these symbols and don’t treat messages with emoji as spam.

But that’s not all.

The evolution of email marketing has made emojis simple and easy to use in any email software you choose for marketing campaigns. All you need to do is copy and paste them in your software.

Moreover, some services have designed their original emojis, making it even faster to insert them in email bodies.

How to use emojis in email marketing

As well as any other strategy, emojis in emails require the knowledge of some tricks from marketers. Every stick has two ends, so it’s worth talking about both do’s and don’ts of using emojis in email marketing for positive outcomes.

emojis in email subject lines

Do’s of emojis in emails

Know your audience and follow your brand voice

Before you add emojis to email subject lines, preheaders, or bodies, make sure it’s exactly what your target audience wants to see. Your brand nature, tone of voice, and the way you approach customers make a difference, too.

Emojis don’t fit every brand. They’re about youth, friendliness, and fun. If you are nothing like this, emojis can affect your brand reputation negatively.

They make emails look less professional. So, if your customers are middle-aged business people looking for luxurious watches or leather cases, for example, emojis in emails can damage your image in their sight.

On the other hand, emojis come in handy when targeting Millennials or Zoomers and willing to highlight your brand’s friendliness and funny, young tone of voice.

how to use emojis in email marketing

In the case of targeting different customer types, consider the proper segmentation, and choose emojis respectively.

It all boils down to this: emojis in emails reveal a brand’s personality, identity, and emotions behind your business.

Add them whenever appropriate to show your brand’s human side and make it look more personal. Stick to symbols with positive meanings, and consider sad emojis only if there’s a particular reason to express anger or sorrow.

email copywriting tips

Use emojis in context

Emojis look bright and eye-grabbing in subject lines and email bodies, but please use them with purpose. Consider them as a supplement rather than a substitute for words.

Emojis serve to make your message look friendly and more personal. Make sure they fit the context: It’s OK to insert a shamrock on St. Patrick’s Day, but it won’t have any meaning on any other occasion, agree? So, be careful and use the right symbol at the right time.

Feel free to write several variations of your subject line, with different emojis, to choose the most appropriate one afterward.

Bonus tip: Place the emoji at the beginning of your subject line. There’s a difference between how users can see it on desktop and mobile. Sometimes they see only a part of it (45 characters), so putting your emoji at the beginning helps to avoid cutting it off.

Consider how emojis look on different devices

As an email marketer, you have to consider how emojis display across different operating systems, email clients, and devices.

The catch here is that the same symbol may appear differently in Gmail and Yahoo, Android and iOS, web and mobile versions of browsers, etc.

test emails

The point I’m trying to convey is that emojis on your screen won’t look the same on the recipient’s screen. More than that, some of them may look like a ? character, destroying the whole meaning of your marketing message.

What to do?


Do your best to test all the email subject lines and bodies in multiple browsers and devices to ensure the emojis appear correctly. It’s especially the case when you choose an email software that offers original emoji designs.

Also, never ignore A/B testing emoji vs. no emoji subject lines. It will help you understand if your target audience responds to them.

Don’ts of emojis in emails

Don’t overdose

In the chase of boosting open rates and conversions, don’t overplay with emojis in subject lines or email bodies.

It’s tempting to fall in the trap of emoji overuse when you see this tactic’s first benefits, but, as we know, anything done in excess is unhealthy.

overuse of emojis in email marketing
Oops! This is what emoji overuse looks like.

Emojis work in email marketing only if you know when and where to add them. They make your campaign more appealing only if it makes sense to enhance your message with them.

The goal is to stand out, not bombard your audience with smiley “faces.” Otherwise, you risk irritating subscribers and losing your reputation of a friendly and professional brand.

Plus, too many emojis look like spam, so they can affect your deliverability.

Don’t risk any misinterpretations

With more than three thousand emojis online, we often get confused and misinterpret some of them. It’s especially true for communicating with people of different ages and cultural backgrounds. Please do you’re your best to avoid such mistakes in email marketing, as it may cause misunderstandings and negative feedback.

You don’t want to risk your message conveying the wrong sentiment because of an emoji.

email marketing tips

Instead, use popular emoji options: a red heart, a smiling face with heart eyes, fire, rolling on the floor laughing, etc. They don’t have any double meanings and your audience will have no trouble interpreting them.

Don’t copy competitors or other big players

Sure, it’s useful to learn from the best ones and “spy” on your direct competitors to stay relevant. But resist the temptation of copying their strategies, whether it comes to email, social media, or any other marketing channel.

The bare fact that McDonald’s or Starbucks newsletters look great with emojis doesn’t mean yours will look so with the same pattern.

What works for one won’t necessarily work for others. Use emojis in your email marketing campaigns only if you know it’ll boost engagement and increase your lead generation.

Wrapping up

Using emojis in email marketing is a sure-fire way to boost brand awareness, stand out in a user’s crowded inbox, and increase open rates and conversions. They do work if relevant to your target audience and your brand’s tone of voice.

With emojis, you’ll emphasize a message and make it look more personal and light-hearted to trigger an emotional response from the audience.

And remember to test emails with emojis to ensure they correctly display at different devices and your audience positively responds to them.

Author bio:

Lesley Vos is a professional copywriter and guest contributor, currently blogging at Bid4Papers, a platform that helps students and authors with writing solutions. Specializing in data research, web text writing, and content promotion, she is in love with words, non-fiction literature, and jazz.