I assume you know what an “emoji” is… (also known as an “emoticon”).
If you don’t know these terms, you can’t possibly have missed them.
People use them in text messages, instant message systems and in tweets… they’re on T-shirts, shop signs and posters. Emojis are everywhere.
Of course there are a lot of people who loathe them.
And for good reason…
They’re crass, childish and force us to simplify our complex emotions into clichéd pre-set images. Quite possibly they’re everything that’s wrong with the youth of today… and the internet… and social media… and smartphone culture.
However, before you start tearing your hair out – understand that there is a functional side to them…
In an online world of short text messages, 140 character tweets and the need to make quick replies to status updates, it’s easy to come across the wrong way.
For instance, you say something sarcastic, but it’s taken literally…
Or you make an earnest comment, but it’s read as a joke.
Sometimes you want to convey that you’re sorry, sympathetic, angry or laughing at the post but there’s no time to get that across in a meaningful way.
For instance, the old option of “liking” – or “favouriting” – something isn’t really appropriate when someone’s announced that they’re seriously ill or their mother has died.
So emojis are a super-quick way of flagging up how your message, post or reply is supposed to be taken. Like ‘em or not, they allow people to engage with others without using writing skills or spending hours trying to pick the right words to say.
This is why Facebook recently launched ‘Reactions’ which means users can not only click ‘like’ on something, they can add an emoji – an angry face, a laughing face, a sad crying face… you get the picture.
Now if you still can’t stand them, after that then there’s one more reason to pay attention.
The emoji is here to stay, and could boost your business – if you’re quick about it
If you want to run a business with an online element of any kind, there’s no escaping the emoji. They’re becoming so much part of online culture, I predict they’ll take over the world eventually.
I realised this awful truth when I saw the following in my email inbox.
Yes, like an apocalyptic viral infection from a horror movie, emojis have finally reached the old fashioned world of email marketing.
However, this could be an opportunity for you…
When it comes to email marketing, emojis are still in their infancy, and barely used at all. That means there’s an opening for you, if you can get in quickly.
Try using the occasional emoji in your subject line and you can grab attention in the crowded inboxes of your subscribers, make yourself stand out, and boost open rates… at least until the emojies overrun our inboxes and become commonplace.
According to a report by Experian Marketing Services, companies using emojis in their subject lines saw a 45% increase in their open rates last year.
And there are other symbols you can use as well as the infamous yellow faces.
According to subject line analysis from Alchemy Worx (reported on eConsultancy in February 2015) a friendly snowman symbol boosted open rates by 65.72%.
In second place was a sun symbol with 20.95% higher open rates, then by a star symbol with 10.65% higher.
Why not all emojis are appropriate
However, bear in mind that the ability of your subscriber to some types of characters will depend on the device and service provider your subscriber uses to read your email.
If you use Mailchimp, they’ve set up a special support facility to help you use emojis and understand who can see them. Take a look at this.
Also make sure you don’t sabotage yourself with an emoji. For instance, a cancer research email with the subject line:
If in doubt, I recommend you test an emoji in your next campaign and analyse the results compared to recent open rates (also bear in mind the unsubscribe rate and any complaints).
Even better, split the list into two with the same subject line, one with an emoji and one without, then see which works best. This is a classic marketing technique that leaves you in no doubt about whether something is effective.
But the final reason I want you to think about emojis is not really about the emojis themselves, however good/awful they might be. It’s to do with two important principles you have to bear in mind when you’re marketing your business online.
Talk like your subscribers
No matter what your personal preferences, you have to speak the language of your followers, subscribers and customers.
In the old days that meant getting rid of jargon, business-speak and flowery poetic language… and talking like a real person in a bar, café or on a sofa with a friend.
It meant writing as you’d speak in the everyday world.
In 2016 and speeding into the future, this may also mean you have to use the same everyday shorthand symbols as your customers use, too, including emojis and symbols.
So before you reject these things out of hand, ask yourself – are these the sorts of things my subscribers like and use in their day-to-day communications? If so, it could be worth considering, particularly if you’re responding to them on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or other social media sites.
It’s more important than ever to stand out from the crowd
According to this report by Radicati every day around 205 BILLION emails get sent around the world.
The average office worker will spend almost a third of their time sending and receiving 120 of these.
That’s an astonishing number.
Information overload is your worst enemy when it comes to grabbing attention, even the attention of those people who are willingly receiving your newsletters.
So in my view, anything that helps your email stand out is something you should try. After all, the more people who spot your email subject line, the more people will open your email. And the more people who read your email the more people who will click through to your products, eCommerce pages, squeeze pages or blog posts.
Your subject line being noticed at all is the first essential step toward a sale.
What makes emojis stand out right now is that:
- your rivals probably aren’t using them… yet.
- people aren’t used to seeing them in their inbox, so your email will instantly catch attention when people scan the inbox.
- the yellow colour of emojis offers a stark contrast against the black and white of the average inbox. It’s like putting a bright headlamp on your email.
Obviously, when emojis in subject lines become commonplace, that’s the time to switch tactic. It may be that NOT using them will make you stand out.
And make sure you tweet me your thoughts – perhaps solely through the medium of emojis? – and follow me on Twitter @NickUpstart.