Do Emojis Work in Email Subject Lines?

by | Thu 16 Sep, 21

Emojis are a brilliant way to express yourself in everyday language, but do they work in email subject lines? 🤔 In this article, we explore whether they’re worth using and show you how to insert an email emoji.

Love them or loathe them, you can’t deny the ever-growing influence of emojis. There’s even a social calendar event every year on 17th July called World Emoji Day!  

Yet, regardless of their ever-growing popularity, the question remains, do emojis work in email subject lines? 

With 74% of marketers thinking that professionalism increases customer engagement, are these colourful digital illustrations painting the wrong image for your business? 

In this blog, we explore the ins and outs of email emoticons in subject lines, providing you with all the answers you need to make an informed decision.

The benefits of emojis 

Emojis are powerful on a personal level, with 78% of people using emojis positively being deemed more likeable in the workplace. In truth, it’s not always easy to express your emotions with words. Research suggests that around 70% of people believe emojis can best convey their feelings. Now that’s a stat.

However, this statistic is dependent on the demographic. In a US survey conducted by Harris Poll and commissioned by Tenor, 68% of millennials said that they’re comfortable expressing themselves through emojis, in comparison to 37% of people over the age of 65. 

Another benefit to email emojis is their vast and increasing popularity. revealed 92% of the online population use emojis daily and 10 billion emojis are sent every day. 

From a business sense, emojis are still making their way. The Adobe Trend report shows that 63% of people believe positive emojis increase credibility, while 36% of senior management believe emojis are unprofessional.

So, what’s the answer? Do emojis work in email subject lines or not? 

Well, if you crunch the numbers, statistics will say they do, within reason.

Recent research reveals a 56% open rate increase when you include emojis in subject lines

Ultimately though, it is not a black and white answer. Rather than – ‘do emojis work in email subject lines?’ – it’s actually – ‘when do emojis work in email?’. The answer depends entirely on your audience and demographic. 

Younger generations appear to appreciate and accept emojis while older generations aren’t as interested. 

These results go back to effective email marketing campaign management. Taking the time to know your target audience and segmenting the data will help you understand whether to include emojis in your subject lines or not. 

Most effective email emoticons 

Securing a positive open rate for your email advertising entirely depends on your subject line. This is one of the most important aspects of email marketing, as it’s the first thing your reader is going to see. 

Remember, around 247 billion emails are sent every day. So, if you’re not doing enough to capture your audience’s attention, your amazing copy will miss the mark.

There’s no doubt that emojis in subject lines generate greater attention in your inbox, which may well lead to increased open rates.

However, despite the busy, cutthroat, and overcrowded nature of email marketing, grabbing someone’s attention doesn’t mean you have it in the right way. Especially trying to shock your viewer into attention. Shock value cases can be offensive and can have detrimental effects on your business and the reputation of your brand.

So be wise to who and how you market your brand to. Getting their ‘split-second’ attention alone is not enough. 

Like many things in life, when dealing with the slippery slope of email emoticons, it’s best just to keep it positive. 

The most popular email emojis appear to be happy, funny, or help tell a story. Here are 20 email emojis for subject lines that have garnered some pretty impressive results for our clients before

  1. 😀 – The smiley face emoji is number 1 for its vibe and simplicity. Just shows how a smile goes a long way. 
  2. – The alarm clock emoji. There’s no better way to resemble how time is of the essence, especially in the fast-paced world of email marketing. 
  3. 👀 – The pair of eyes emoji. A real classic to convey a sneak peek or something is worth seeing. 
  4. 👍 – The thumbs-up emoji. What better way to show some approval? 
  5. 🔥 – The fire or flame emoji. A real indicator that something is red hot and a popular metaphor. 
  6. 👉 – The finger point emoji. How to try and guide someone’s attention with the classic point.
  7. 🎉 – The party popper emoji. A great symbol to celebrate something. 
  8. 💋 – The kissing lips emoji. Show some love and seal with a kiss. 
  9. ️ – The play button emoji. Pressing ‘play’ is a good call to action especially when involving technology. 
  10. 👋 – The hand-wave emoji. Saying hello in a friendly way. 
  11. 🔓 – The unlocked padlock emoji. When something is secured, it’s normally valuable. Now, it’s unlocked, it’s intriguing to see what’s inside. 
  12. 🌹 – The rose emoji. A classic rose for romance. 
  13. 📧 – The email emoji. A bit self-obsessive, but more emphasis can be a good thing. 
  14. – The green checkmark button. Green is positive, and the tick is a clear and certain indication that something is complete. 
  15. 🛑 – The stop sign emoji. A universal symbol for stopping and paying attention. 
  16. 🏠 – The House emoji. Simply, there is no place like home. 
  17. 💥 – The collision emoji. A real attention grabber and another explosive metaphor.
  18. – The lightning emoji. A super symbol for high voltage electricity and another potent metaphor.  
  19. 💎 – The diamond or gemstone emoji. An easy way to portray class, glamour, and luxury. 
  20. – The star emoji. Lastly, a very simple, subtle, and graceful way of trying to highlight something of star quality. 

These are the top 20 most effective and popular email emoticons for general email subject line purposes. However, a brand can be much more specific by using its own identity in line with emojis. More on this later. 

Best practices on using emojis in email subject lines

After figuring out your target audience, what is the best way to use or not use emojis in your email subject lines?

Generally speaking, placing your emoji at the end of the subject line is often the best choice. This is where the eyes of your potential consumer are going to lead to more effectively. However, this is a new game, so there is room for creativity. 

Playing around with email emojis and being imaginative could lead to more positive attention in your brand simply because no one has ever seen it before. 

For example, take some kissing lips for comedic romantic purposes. 👄

Now, that’s fine, but could it be more humorous and impactful with an eye on either side? 👁👄👁

The key is to grab the attention of the recipient. 

If your brand has a clear identity which an emoji can complement, then I would recommend adding this emoji to the beginning of your subject line. 

For example, I have a ‘made-up’ company called ‘Wave’ and we sell sound systems. 

My subject line could look something like this,

🌊 Check out Wave’s new sound system offers incoming on the horizon 👀

After a while, your customer will begin to relate your brand to the emoji. Creating this kind of consistency with your email emojis can be a powerful means of maximising brand association and helping to instil a stronger connection between the business and the customer.

Final thoughts 

At the end of the day, emojis can work in subject lines. However, it’s not so much a question of do they work but more when they work and how to use them appropriately. 

As it stands, there isn’t enough evidence to suggest that they don’t work. It’s a case of identifying your target audience within the right demographic. 

Generally, younger people will respond as they use them regularly in their day to day lives. 

Keeping it positive, humorous, and on-trend with your brand or narrative will hopefully go a long way and add value to your email marketing. 

Remember, there is no point trying to grab your readers attention by cramming in pointless emojis for the sake of it. This approach is cheap and will appeal to no one. 

Be smart, classy, and creative with your emojis. After all, it’s a new and open field worth exploring. 

For more advice from email marketing experts, get in touch with MailNinja today. 

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