Should You Use Emojis In Your Email Subject Lines?

Amy Baker
Amy Baker
Aug 29, 2018 · 5 min read

The subject line is the most important sentence of your email. A boring subject line will mean your email is overlooked or just deleted. 😲

Meaning all the hard work writing your email would have been for nothing!

It gets worse…

If your subscribers continually don’t open your email, you may begin to get marked as ‘spam’ by the email client (for example: Gmail, Outlook, Apple Mail). As email clients get more and more sophisticated about identifying which emails are engaging, and which emails shouldn’t even make it to the inbox.

So now you can know how important it is to get the subject line right, let’s see how we can make sure yours stand out.

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Will Emojis Help Your Email Stand Out?

To avoid sending mundane subject lines to your subscribers, you’ve probably considered including emojis. But do they really grab readers attention?

Other email users seem to think so…

There has been a staggering increase in the use of emojis in subject lines.

Email marketer Jess Nelson reported that emoji usage has increased 775% year on year — (so you know, just a little bit). But could that mean you now blend into the crowd?

Turns out no.

While the increase has been massive, the percentage of people using emojis is still relatively small. According to Econsultancy, just 5% of subject lines in 2017 included emojis.

Will an emoji increase the chances of my email being read?

Other marketers are seeing success from using emojis when used well. Many claim that emojis help your content stand out in an inbox dominated by text, and that when used strategically and sparingly, they do increase open rates.

Swiftpage, for example, did their own set of tests to determine the impact of emojis in subject lines. Here’s what they found:

ReturnPath also tested emojis in their emails across multiple holidays and found some interesting results. On Valentine’s Day, the use of lips in their subject lines increased their open rate by 4%. On St Patrick’s Day the use of the Irish flag emoji increased open rates by over 6%. And they also found that the poop emoji was the most effective across other days of the year. Weird.

It’s not all roses 🌹 for emojis

It can go the other way too. Econsultancy tested 14 different emails, each with multiple variations of the same subject line. They sent each email to over 10 groups of 50,000 people and recorded the results.

They found that 60% of the time an emoji increased the open rate (over the same subject line with no emoji). This means that 40% of the time, the emoji had a negative impact.

And popular isn’t necessarily better

There is data around the most popular emojis (see the list from Mailchimp below), but again, this doesn’t mean that they are the most effective. I suggest testing popular and different emojis to see which ones resonate with your audience the most.

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Tip: A/B test you subject lines.

Send half of your emails out with no emoji, and half with. See which gets the better open rate. Do this over the course of a few different email types to find a pattern and see if emojis really do work for you. Then try testing different types of emojis and use of multiple emojis to see which your subscribers prefer.

Emoji Subject Line Recommendations

If you are going to test using emojis in your email subject lines, there are a few tips I recommend.

  1. Use emojis sparingly: too many will make your email appear spam-like.
  2. Test your emails: your subscriber base is different, test to see which style they prefer.
  3. Render: make sure you are testing your email in multiple email clients, browsers and devices before sending to make sure the emoji appears correctly.
  4. Improve: take the learnings from previous emails and let them impact future subject lines.
  5. Write, write, write: create multiple variations of your subject line, with different emoji options and give yourself time to choose the best one, it is the most important piece of content of your email after-all.

Sorry — It’s Not That Easy.

Unfortunately, not all browsers and email clients display the same emojis in the same way or at all (check out this article on all the different ways the same emoji can look). So, while you might see your sunshine emoji just fine in your test email to a Gmail email address that you opened in Chrome, your recipients who open their email on another email client on their mobile might not see the same thing.

You will have to test multiple email clients and browsers to know for sure. Otherwise you could end up sending an email with this symbol in it ▢ or the word ‘emoji’.

Note: check how the subject line looks when you open the email too! Some email clients display subject line emojis differently within the email.

Could Emojis Impact Deliverability?

According to Experian, emojis shouldn’t impact upon your emails deliverability. So, if you’re seeing a lot of hard-bounces (failed sends) from your emails, then there are probably other factors at play.

To delve deeper into your low deliverability, start with your subscriber list:

All of the above questions will help you determine why your deliverability is low.

Unfortunately it isn’t as simple as including or excluding an emoji.

So What’s The Final Verdict?

Should you include emojis in your email subject lines? Yes, you can and should trial using emojis!

But you need to work on writing a good subject line first. Then add relevant emojis sparingly to amplify their effectiveness.

Want more tips for influencers? Check out

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Amy Baker

Written by

Amy Baker

B2B Inbound Marketing Specialist, with ten years digital marketing experience, both client and agency side.

The Startup

Medium's largest active publication, followed by +667K people. Follow to join our community.

Amy Baker

Written by

Amy Baker

B2B Inbound Marketing Specialist, with ten years digital marketing experience, both client and agency side.

The Startup

Medium's largest active publication, followed by +667K people. Follow to join our community.

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