Using Emoji & Symbols in Your Email Subject Lines

They are something of a distinct normality in the world of texting – but for emails, having emojis in your subject lines is something that is still beginning to take shape in marketing. Using smileys in your email subject lines can be a great strategy to improve open rates and engagement with your campaigns, but only if you are aware of what your recipients are seeing.

Emojis look slightly different between some email clients, while older based clients don’t cater to emojis, and your recipients may not see them whatsoever. The best way to determine your levels of success is to test using a number of emojis in an example subject line and sending emails to yourself through as many email clients as possible or use a testing tool like Email On Acid.

To see what would happen and how emojis would display – Campaign Monitor put emojis to the ultimate test. Simply put, they included an emoji in their subject line and tested how it displayed across several email clients, old and new. And the results were pretty surprising, even in more dated clients, they found emojis were generally well supported:

Apart from Outlook 2003 – the study found almost universal support. However, they did find that Outlook.com and iOS devices displayed some symbols like ❤️with a basic graphic ❤  or replaced completely by the word ’emoji’.

Emoji use in email marketing is reported to have increased by nearly 800% year-on-year, and its hardly surprising. According to a report by Experian, companies who use emojis in their subject lines have been found to experience open rates 56% higher than those who don’t. An emoji in your header or subject line brings an emotional attachment to your words, as well as a colourful touch. I think we can all agree that a heart smiley face 😍 in your inbox, resonates better than a subject line with all caps. 

Using emojis is a great way of leaning the reader in to relate to that expression, or visualise that situation, item or feeling. Surprisingly, the smiling poop delivers the highest rate of readers 💩 – it’s strange, there’s something about a smiling pile of poop that makes us all click when we see it…

But wait. There are even more benefits to using emojis in your subject lines:

  • Emojis in subject lines can lead to far better engagement than your usual email, meaning you could be losing the chance to engage your readers if you don’t use emojis 😥
  • Only 2% of company emails sent to internal clients use emojis in their subject lines. This provides competitors an opportunity to pull away from their main rivals 🏆
  • Using emojis can help your email subject lines tailor to mobile devices 📲

How do you use an emoji in your email subject? 😎

It’s simple really, if you’re sending via mobile, simply download any emoji keyboard extension (Your phone, if it is fairly new, will have emojis built into your keyboard already anyway). If you send your marketing emails through your PC or desktop, you can try using Facebook Symbols, or Emojipedia, both are great tools that source a wide range of emoji types. Simply copy and paste them into your subject region when typing it out.

Remember that not everyone is going to see your emojis, as some email clients will display emojis as a blank box, like this: ☐, this is a marketers worst nightmare, as the worry sets in that your reader will doubt whether you are legitimate. A broken email is a red flag for any email user who hates having to deal with spam.

The use of emojis in your subject lines is a great technique for marketing, but you must make sure you do it right, and are aware of what any reader sees, a broken email subject line never resonates well with an email user – but a well recognised emoji triggers a thousand people’s emotions 🎉.