Can Emojis Open Emails? ?

Can Emojis Open Emails? ?

By myclever™ Agency

For email marketers, it’s the divisive issue.

Research shows that 64% of people will open an email because of its subject line.

Can including emoticons and emojis in the subject line increase the open-rate of your marketing emails?

emoji example CK email subject line

While some email clients -such as MailChimp – go as far as supporting iOS’s emojis, many email clients have their own set of emoticons.

Outlook 2003 emoticon examples

Let’s take a look at the evidence.


56% of brands that Experian analysed experienced an increase in open-rates when icons were included in email subject lines.

An A/B test by Swiftpage showed higher unique opens (+3.29%), unique clicks (+6.28%), and click-through rates (+18.93%) for an identical subject line that featured a symbol.

MailChimp email headlines popular emojis

As MailChimp shows (above), thousands of marketers running email campaigns are including emojis in their subject lines.

Now that most of us have smart-phones and devices capable of supporting emoticons natively, the use of such characters is considered a fantastic way of standing out in a crowded inbox.

Social usage is 80% mobile but people’s attention spans are smaller than ever.

Econsultancy suggests that a timely emoji can be hugely influencial – the snowman around the holiday season, for example, increases open-rate by 66% – but that the message behind the icon – the sunshine for example – can be undermined by its presentation.

econsultancy emoji table


Another email test, conducted by by Penton Marketing, suggests that a carefully crafted subject line that uses icons to enhance the storytelling of their message has better success than plain text subject lines.

Penton Marketing email subject line test


One word: spam.

More and more people are throwing emojis into their email subject lines. What was once a unique and clever way to stand out is becoming commonplace.

Spam email emoji headline

As with any form of content marketing, if you aren’t adding value to your end-user’s experience then you’re not giving them a reason to spend their time on your brand.

While a well placed and thought out emoticon can make your subject line a thing of beauty, you could end up sending a nonsensical subject line.

MailChimp warns us that not all email clients support all symbols. Whether your target audience want to see an emoji in your subject line or not, they’re less likely to engage with any that look like this:

MailChimp Emoji example incorrect

rather than this:

MailChimp Emoji example correct

Outlook 2003 is well-known for not supporting rich subject lines. If your audience operates primarily on this client, emoticons might be a backwards step.

Knowing Your Audience

Like any other social media marketing tactic, understanding your target audience is vital.

You should test thoroughly to see how your intended emoticon will appear across the popular email clients. If you know that the majority of your email database uses a client that doesn’t support your symbols, it’s worth reconsidering.

Similarly, tone-of-voice should be taken into account. If you’re working B2B, with a serious brand message, perhaps a smiley face isn’t right for that email.

However, a well placed emoji could be just disruptive enough to give your serious readers something to think about, to lean in and click through.

Best Practices

If you’re going to experiment with emojis in your email subject lines, bear in mind these tips:

  1. Don’t over do it – the novelty will wear off
  2. Test for your audience’s mail clients
  3. Use the icon early to make sure it shows up in the preview

Remember CTR

It’s also worth remembering that a high open-rate doesn’t equal conversions.

Once the audience has made that first click, your email still needs to offer useful or engaging content that invites them to leave their inbox behind, in favour of your owned media – your website, microsite or social channels.

An enticing subject line that leads to a dull email might create an anti-climactic feeling that switches a person off from your brand, for good.

Over To You

What do you think? How do emojis affect the open-rate of your marketing emails?

Article Name
Can Emojis Open Emails?
How can emojis influence the open-rate of your marketing emails? We take a look at both sides of the email subject line emoticons conversation.

This post was written by myclever™ Agency

Exceptional marketing is driven by human insight. myclever™ Agency craft beautiful, useful and engaging experiences with social media at the heart.