Pros, Cons, and Tips for Using Emojis for Email Subject Lines

Emojis in email subject lines: Pros, cons, and tips.

With the rise of instant messages, emojis have taken roots in our lives. Be it a message to your mom or office chat on Slack – emojis have taken quite a significant part in our everyday communication.


By October 2019, more than 3000 different emojis have been released, and the number keeps increasing. Emojis initially represented emotions, but the collection of small icons, as well as their use-cases, is continuously expanding.

With good reason: emojis play on a visual way for people to quickly understand and interpret messages online. That’s why they’ve become more and more popular for brands to use with their customers. Let’s see how beneficial it can be to start using emojis in email subject lines.

1. The Benefits Of Using Emojis In Email Subject Lines

First of all, take a look at my inbox from the ordinary day in October. Which of the subject lines grabs your attention first?


Am I wrong saying that the one with pumpkins? Perhaps that could be the first benefit.

Benefit #1. Increases Email Open Rate

Emojis make a subject line stand out in a subscriber’s inbox. The better a reader sees your email subject line, the bigger the chance it will be opened. According to Experian, 56% of brands that use emojis in subject lines see increased open rates.

Though this data was announced some time ago, the positive results of using emojis have also been noticed in later, independent tests. Swiftpage, for example, says their newsletter has a 3.29% higher open rate when there is an emoji in the subject line.

Also, you may find handy this monthly guide to emojis by ReturnPath. These guys are strong emoji advocates and provide some great insights. See below what they have for December.


Benefit #2. Increase Your Brand Awareness

Believe it or not, being noticed in an inbox can also increase brand awareness. This is true even if the email is not opened. AlchemyWorx studied the impact of unopened emails on sales.

According to their research, it is the Nudge Effect: “Sending an email communication featuring your brand name, and a subject line[…] can still influence a purchase decision.”

I highly recommend reading the entire article: How to create emails that sell – even unopened.

Benefit #3. Save Space

Currently, more than half of all emails are being opened on mobile devices. The subject lines usually don’t fit on the mobile screen entirely: only the first 50 characters can be seen.

Although the main words of your subject lines shouldn’t be replaced with emojis, they definitely can help you be more informative and deliver the right emotion. See the example below.


2. How to Effectively Use Emojis In Email Marketing

Every stick has two ends, so don’t dash headlong into the emoji world and use them everywhere. First, consider the following.

#1. Do Emojis Fit Your Brand?

Emojis don’t fit every brand due to several factors: customer age and attitude, your communication tone, and the way you approach your customers.

Emojis are fun, cute, playful, youthful. If your brand is nothing like this, they are probably not for you.

For example, if you sell luxurious leather cases and your customers are middle-aged businessmen, it is contrary to your brand identity to use emojis in your emails. Using funny emojis can even damage your image in this case.

On the other hand, if you sell mostly to millennials, and you think emojis fit your tone and would be something your customers will enjoy, go for it.

The right way of validating whether the use of emojis for email will have a positive impact on your results is to test them.

Use A/B Testing to find the perfect results for your subscribers

#2. Don’t Overdose With Emojis

Placing emojis in your subject line can have a direct benefit on open rates and overall campaign engagement. However, you can also overdose on it—fast.

The goal is to stand out in the inbox, but that doesn’t mean screaming symbols in the email after email. Use them only when it makes sense or enhances the subject line’s impact.


#3. Displaying Emojis On Different Devices

Will all of your subscribers be able to see emojis equally?

The short answer is NO. Email-safe emojis don’t exist.

All email clients (Gmail, iOS Mail, Outlook, etc.) show emojis slightly differently. In addition to this, some emojis are not supported in Outlook and are rendered as a blank square ▢, or just the word ‘emoji’ instead of your intended icon. In some older articles, you may find it written that iPhone/iPad had issues with rendering emojis, but after recent iOS updates, that issue is already outdated.

Outlook 2003 does not support emojis. However, this Outlook version is really old. Additionally, according to Litmus, in 2017 Outlook makes 6% of the total market share. And only 7% of those users use Outlook 2003. That’s a small fraction of your intended audience, so I don’t think that should stop you from using emojis. But make sure that your subject line still makes sense if the email client doesn’t happen to support the emoji display.

What else you should know and be ready for when using emojis is a different style of the same emojis on different devices. Although all emojis have their codes, different platforms display them slightly differently.

What to expect, see the example below:


Emoji data from (07/11/2019)

3. A Holiday Emoji List For Email Subject Lines

Although one of the most popular emojis are ❤️ , 😂, 😍, 👍, 🔥, during the holiday season, emojis significantly change to more holiday-oriented icons.

During November-December of 2018, 18% of all promotional emails sent via Omnisend had one or more emoji included. From that number, most of the emojis were the following:


4. Tips on Using Emojis

Tip #1. 👉 Always test emojis.

We have already discussed the issues that might happen with emojis on different email clients. So without saying more, it’s crucial to test before sending your bulk campaign. Make sure that your subject line makes sense even if the email client doesn’t support the emoji display.

Tip #2. 👉 Do not replace an actual word with an emoji.

Since some Outlook users cannot see the emojis the same way other email client users can, I would suggest the use of emojis as extra to subject line, without replacing critical words with emojis. That way, it won’t be a big deal if the emoji doesn’t show up or if it doesn’t render correctly. Don’t take the risk that a fancy-looking subject line could sacrifice its readability.

Tip #3. 👉 Use the emoji at the beginning of the subject line.

How subscribers see your email subject line depends on their devices: desktop or mobile. Sometimes they see only the first 45 characters of the subject line. So putting your emoji at the beginning helps you avoid the inbox cutting it off.

Tip #4. 👉 Use popular options.

According to Econsultancy, it matters which symbols you are using for the campaigns. Some of them perform better than others do. Check out the table below.


However, trying out different emojis is the only way to understand which of them work best for your brand.

Tip #4. 👉Keep emojis relevant, and don’t overuse them.

These small funny icons work best when they are closely related to your subject line.

What else is important, so I will repeat that – you shouldn’t overuse them. Remember that your subject line should be informative, inviting to click on, and even intriguing. But you shouldn’t spam the emojis or load them into a subject line- it’s a quick way to end up in a user’s spam folder.

5. How To Add Emoji To Email Subject Lines

How you put an emoji in an email depends on ESP features. If the tool you use for your emails has in-house emojis, you don’t have to look any further. If it doesn’t, you should use or to copy emojis from there.

At Omnisend, you can find emojis in the campaign settings, on the right of the subject line field. The entire library of cute faces and symbols is ready for your use.


Wrap Up

Consider all the pros and cons of emojis and use them wisely. These small funny icons will spice up your email subject lines and help to get more attention from your subscribers.

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This article was originally published by our friends at Omnisend.

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