Email best practices

Infographic: The performance of emojis in email subject lines

Learn more about using emojis in email subject lines. Find out what works and what doesn't in different markets.

Hermes and another goddess choose emoticons

Have you noticed how Emojis have invaded the world? Look around you. Emojis are literally everywhere in our daily lives: in our text messages, in our chat channels, in online blog posts and even in our mailbox. They have become some sort of parallel universal language.

If you are an email marketer, you’ve probably been tempted to include a small smiling Santa or a fashionable shoe somewhere in your latest Christmas or Sales campaign, hoping that these cute little icons would attract clicks.

At Mailjet, we were really curious about the impact Emojis had on emails. We thought it was time to get a better idea, so we decided to conduct some research on the topic.

We used A/X testing on our bi-weekly local newsletters in four countries: the United Kingdom, the United States, France and Spain, for a total of 15,000 recipients. We chose four of the most popular Emojis and included them on our newsletters’ subject lines:

  • Face With Tears of Joy

  • Smiling Face With Heart-Shaped Eyes

  • Face With Stuck-Out Tongue and Winking Eye

  • Loudly Crying Face

We sent out our newsletters in batches, which had randomly been attributed either one of the four emojis or none at all, and we compared their open rates.

The results revealed that different countries and cultures respond to Emoji use differently, and that not all Emojis had the same effect.

OK, so what worked and what didn’t in the US?

The research reveals that Americans are 43% more likely to open an email if the subject line includes an Emoji.

Interestingly enough, in the US, the type of Emoji did not make a real difference in open rates: the four different faces presented similar results, with open rates ranging from 27 to 29% (average open rate for the US is 19.5%). Regardless of the Emoji, our American readers seem to just love all the cute yellow faces and praised their presence in subject lines.

Yet we do have a winner: the crying with tears of joy Emoji outperformed the others by one point, reaching an increase of nearly 50% in open rates. This performance is still far from what the crying face Emoji achieved in the UK, where it created a splurge of 97% in open rates.

Other countries where we ran the survey have not been as captured by the power of Emojis in their inbox. Reactions amongst mainland European countries were radically different to the UK, with French subscribers being the most skeptical. In Spain, net results for emails sent with an Emoji in the subject line showed no registrable rise in open rates. Whereas, open rates actually dipped by an average 11% among French recipients, further indicating the strong cultural differences between European markets.

Marketers would be wrong to leave Emojis out of their email game: when used wisely, they can create peaks of engagement amongst their subscribers. Our research has shown that, while you can go crazy with Emojis when sending out emails in the US and UK, you may want to keep your Emoji game on the low with European audiences.

But the results of this research go beyond the attractiveness of Emojis as a marketing tool: it proves once again how important it is for marketers to use A/B testing to understand their audience’s tastes, to analyze their campaigns results after sending and, additionally, to use segmentation to address the specificities of users across different geographies and demographics.

For the 2017 results - click here.

Now you’re all set to start sending the right Emojis to the right audience, and to  your open rates!

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