Marketers: Do Emojis Have You Lost for Words?

As I scroll through my text messages, I can’t help but notice how many of my typed words have been replaced with tiny images of faces and icons representing everything from pizza to Christmas. I even have some friends who choose to communicate events by stringing a few select emojis together. So many things can be expressed simply by using these little icons. For example, unless you’ve never seen the iconic early 90’s TV show Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, you know exactly how to read (er, rap) this:

Now this is a 📖 all about

how my life got 🔄⬆️⬇️

now I’d like to take a

⌛️ just 💺👈  I’ll tell ya how

I became the 👑 of a

🏠🏡🏠🏡 called 🔔💨


There are many viewpoints on the true beginnings of emoji-use. Me? I blame Facebook. The social media platform was a big contributor of bringing emojis out of our text messages and into our web communications. Remember back in February when it introduced five additional emoji-like options to it’s token “thumbs up” button? When the company added those new “reactions” to its platform, the flood gates were opened. Ever since, emojis started popping up more frequently in all communication forms, from music videos to PSA billboards. (Seriously, even my grandma has been known to add the tiny, new-aged hieroglyphics to her messages!) There is even an entire movie about emojis being released in 2017.


emoji billboard

Example of emoji-based PSA

So what’s the big deal about all these mini-icons? And why are so many people adopting them so quickly?

The short answer: Because emojis are a shorthand way to convey a message and feelings more accurately than words.

The other short, but more profound answer: Because people use emojis to transcend language barriers and communicate with others who can’t read. Think about it – A 🙂 is universal across the planet.


Some of today’s savvy B2C marketers are using emojis in subject lines and preheader text to help them stand out in a traditional sea of Arial. So much so, that Appboy, a marketing automation company, reported emoji use in email and push campaigns soared 777% year-over-year in the period ending in March 2016, and it’s still increasing.1

It makes sense. “Mobile First!” has been the email marketer’s battle cry for a while now. So, as consumers spend more time on their mobile devices, emoji-use in promotional emails has really gone ☝️.

No doubt you’ve seen emojis popping up alongside of subject lines and preheader text in your own personal inbox. If you haven’t, take a look at some of these examples:


Image source:


Much like anything that has to do with email marketing, it depends – on your industry, your brand, and your target audience.

Your Industry

Is your organization a spunky ad agency or longstanding retirement company? It doesn’t take a 🚀 👩‍🔬 to know that one company may benefit from speaking emoji, while the other one may not be taken seriously if cutesy characters like 👵 and 👴 started appearing in its subject lines.

The bottom line

Before you start getting more “emojinal” in your subject lines, first consider your industry’s overall perception. Is it super playful or does it lie more on the traditional, professional side?

Your Brand

According to Larissa Russell from ScribbleLive, “If content is King, emojis are the jokers.” Before you think that emojis are a must for your email marketing program, assume for a minute that they’re not. If you work for a law firm, or a governmental agency, then using emojis in your digitally communications may do more harm than good. On the other hand, GE’s marketing team has had a lot of success using emojis for their industrial B2B audiences. 

The bottom line

Take a long, hard look at your brand and how you want others to perceive it before becoming fluent in emoji.

Your Target Audience

Do you sell predominantly to millennials or baby boomers? Women or men? The answer to both of these questions, along with others about what your ideal audience is, can help guide whether to incorporate the trending new language into your subject lines. If you’re on the fence, you can always do an A/B test where a portion of your email list receives “Take our Survey – We’re Listening! 👂” vs. “Take our Survey – We’re Listening!”

The bottom line

Above all else, let the data be your guide when it comes to emoji use. No two companies are alike. Only your customers can tell you if they think using emojis in email subject lines and preheader text is a good idea or a bad one.

So, would you give using emojis in your B2B emails a 👍 or 👎? Let us know in the comments below.

Looking to develop compelling, revenue-driving emails and subject lines, with or without the use of emojis? Want to discuss what this emoji  download truly means, and whether or not it’s okay to use him as an exclamation point?  Drop us a line, and let’s chat.







Nikki Flores

Author Nikki Flores

More posts by Nikki Flores

An avid learner, Nikki possesses an innate ability to transform complex concepts into easily digestible content. With more than a decade of copywriting, strategy, and digital marketing under her belt, Nikki’s developed a passion for connecting the dots between meaningful marketing messages and increased revenue.

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