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9 Ways to Use Emojis and Special Characters

To Improve Your Subject Lines

Original illustration by A. Malyavina

There are many tips and tricks to make your subject lines more compelling to users and increase Open Rate, but in this article, we want to take a look at a pretty dubious approach — using emojis and special characters to draw the attention of your subscribers.

Using Emojis and Special Symbols

According to Nielsen Norman Group’s research, emojis do not increase the probability of an email being opened. However, if you don’t overuse them and know some special moves, you can make your subject line more attractive. Today, we’ll find out how to use emojis, learn where to get symbols and how to set them before sending emails.

Emojis in Subject Lines: Move List

The move list we gathered will help you see how to use emojis and other symbols in the subject line.

1. Add Relevant Emojis

If you want to immerse the readers into the email content before they open it, just add a suitable emoji. If a user sees a smile, they will understand that good news is coming, an apple or french fries will hint that it’s something connected with food, and a dollar bill will indicate that the content is tied to the financial area. The main thing here is to use emojis that are clear both for you and your audience.

This move is also good since it’s mobile-friendly. Mobile browsers clip the preheaders and long subject lines, so by adding an emoji you will preserve the meaning of the email, even if something gets lost.

Gumroad uses emojis like moon, alarm clock, fire
In gumroad’s case, emojis in emails can be ambiguous without context. It may help them stand out from other emails in your inbox, but if emails from specific senders get to separate folders, they can make your eyes bleed

2. Use Emojis To Add a Pinch of Fun

Emojis may not only literally represent the objects, but you can also use them to add some irony, puns, or jokes.

VS PINK (a lingerie and apparel line) uses a peach emoji to reference their product — underwear — with a phrase “Something to cover your *peach emoji*”
You know what this emoji stands for, and it’s not a peach

3. Build a Word With Emojis

You can write a short word with the help of symbols and this way, to highlight it. However, be cautious, as emojis of different color and size will look pretty odd together.

To announce the launch of a long-awaited game, GOG.COM spellt the word “hit” using emojis in subject line

4. Use Special Characters

Just imagine that you need to draw attention to your campaign without big words. So, how about using some suitable special characters? These will add some action to the message.

In one of their subject lines, GAP used asteriks between the letters of the words Flash sale
Is this just us or did Gap try to also make a pun by filling every gap with symbols?

5. Insert a Hashtag

If you are going to promote your campaign on social media, just use a relevant hashtag in the subject line.

Massimo Dutti uses a hashtag NewInDutti in a subject line

6. Choose an Emoji Referencing the Brand’s Logo or Signature Style

If there is an emoji that somehow resembles your brand’s logo, you can use it in the campaign. This icon will help your email stand out from the competitors and it is also a good way to attract more attention to a special project or a collaboration with another brand.

WB Games uses a bat and the victory hand emojis torefer to two DC Comics characters, Batman and Peacemaker
The bat and the victory hand emojis are referring to two DC Comics characters, Batman and Peacemaker
Back 4 Blood campaign uses a blood drop that is aligned with the game’s main theme and a part of its title
Back 4 Blood campaign uses a blood drop that is aligned with the game’s main theme and a part of its title

7. Set a Topic or a Theme

If you send regular curated content newsletters, you can pick an emoji for each special topic. The users can distinguish the features with the help of these symbols.

2K Newsletter and WB Games used a pumpkin emoji and a ghost emoji for their Halloween email campaings
2K and WB tell about the Halloween sales using related emojis — Jack-o’-lantern and a ghost

8. Keep Up With the Trends and Use Kaomojis

Kaomojis are the Japanese kind of emojis made of Japanese characters, Latin letters, and punctuation marks.

There are ordinary smileys among them: («• ᴗ •»).

And even whole standalone stories: (* ̄▽ ̄)旦 且(´∀`*), (҂` ロ ´)︻デ═一 \(º □ º l|l)/.

An email from GOG.COM with a kaomoji in subject line. The kaomoji is a smiling person pointing at the text
It’s better to place kaomojis at the beginning of the text because if some of its elements get clipped, the pic may become incomprehensible

9. Use an Unusual Font Style

You can use an alternative font to write the name of your brand in the subject line to make it pop.

An email from Yves Roche annoncing a new product. The name of the product is written in a cursive font

Keep in mind that not all fonts can be adapted to every email client and format. The design of email campaigns allows you to use only standard fonts: Arial, Comic Sans MS, Courier New, Georgia, Impact, Tahoma, Times New Roman, Trebuchet MS, Verdana.

Where To Get the Symbols for the Subject Lines

Unicode symbols table — contains lots and lots of symbols and emojis in the unicode format. Each symbol page has information on how it looks in this or that system. — a massive kaomojis database.

Fancy Text Generator — this service lets you change the font style, add squiggles and deco.

How To Add Emojis to a Subject Line

Copy an emoji from a convenient database and paste it into the subject line of your email.

We recommend sending a test email to check the way emoji will be displayed on different screen resolutions and in different systems.

You can also use the or to check how the symbols in the subject line will look like on different devices:

how one and the same emoji looks like on Apple, Android, Symbola, Twitter

Some General Advice on Using Symbols in Subject Lines

  1. Use no more than 2 special symbols per campaign. If you use more, the focus will be blurred and the subject line will just look sloppy.
  2. To avoid clipping, place emojis at the beginning of subject lines.
  3. Always remember that you need to understand the meaning of the emoji to use it. Don’t be scared to double-check it if you’re not sure. Some fruit like a banana, an eggplant or a peach have ambiguous connotation. Symbols of some animals like a pig, a rat or a chicken (yes, you know what is that another name for this particular bird and what it means) may be understood as an offense.
  4. Emojis must correlate with the topic of the message, supplement, and develop it, instead of being just a mere decoration.
  5. Before sending an email with emojis or symbols in the subject line to your base, send a test message and check whether everything works fine.



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