How to Send Email with an Emoji on Every Device


It seems you can’t go anywhere online these days without running into an emoji in some way.

From 😁 to ☕, emojis help convey emotions and bring writing to life. In fact, people spend the equivalent of an entire day on their smartphone each week. Emojis make life online a little less robotic and disconnected.

When it comes to email, an emoji can improve engagement and grabs attention—the trick is to understand proper emoji protocol to avoid faux pas and embarrassment.

In this post, we’ll go over the best practices for sending emails with emoji symbols across every device.

Why Should You Send Emails with Emojis?

Sending emails with emoji flair isn’t just reserved for pizza restaurants and shoe stores. Even B2B companies can harness the power of emojis.

Email with an Emoji Can Improve Engagement

When compared to a standard text-only subject line, an email subject line with an emoji adds a little extra oomph to help get your emails opened and read.

According to the latest research, which analyzed 300 million email campaigns and app notifications, including an emoji in your subject line can improve open rates by 66%. Push notifications with emojis can boost open rates by a staggering 254%.

Getting your emails opened is arguably the most important part of your strategy after deliverability. If people don’t feel compelled to open your emails, they’ll never see what’s inside, let alone take action.

They Grab Attention

Redacti estimates that 246.5 billion emails will be sent every day in 2019. Meanwhile, the average business email address will receive 96 emails each day.

We use email to do everything from ordering important products, to communicating with government bodies, and staying in touch with loved ones. Just think about how many marketing emails show up in your inbox every day.

Emojis can help you stand out in a crowded and noisy inbox.

Source: Redacti

Emojis Helps Save Space in Subject Lines

Over half of all emails are opened on mobile devices. Unfortunately, this leaves less real estate space for marketers to get their point across because the average email app will cut off your subject line after about 40 or 50 characters.

This means that you need to make the most out of every single character. Writing your email subject line with an emoji or two can replace entire words and free up valuable space.

Best Practices for Writing Your Email Subject Line with an Emoji

When crafting your email, emoji symbols can give your campaign the extra boost it needs to reach your audience. At the same time, you want your email to hit all the right notes. Here’s how to get the email subject line emoji strategy right.

Understand Your Audience

This is the most important thing you can do to make sure your emails have an impact on your audience.

In general, people tend to think that older demographics don’t appreciate emojis and find them childish. However, look on Facebook and you’ll see older generations using emojis and stickers all the time.

On that note, not every millennial or gen Z member will appreciate emojis either. Some people between the ages of 18 and 34 think brands using emojis in email are “trying too hard.”

Do your subscribers prefer no-fluff text that gets straight to the point? Or would they appreciate an emoji to lighten the mood?

The only way to answer that question is to send out a few emails with emojis and see what happens.

Decide What Purpose Your Email Emoji Symbols Will Serve

The “emo” in “emoji” stands for “emotion” and standard smiley faces work well for conveying different types of emotion through your emails.

However, emojis can do much more than that. You can also use different emojis to emphasize different words or concepts—such as a clock or a watch to emphasize time. You could even tell an entire story through emojis with the use of + and = signs between them.

Source: Runtastic

Runtastic uses a thumbs up and down instead of typing out “yes” and “no.”

Don’t Limit Yourself

Almost 3,000 emojis exist today and developers are always creating more. You have thousands of opportunities to make an impact with emojis.

Even if you work in a serious or professional industry like law, medical, or finance, you can still use scales of justice, stethoscopes, clipboards, money, and stock market graphs.

Remember that email should be conversational to hit home with your audience. Obviously, it may not be appropriate to use emojis in all types of professional emails, but imagine you’re sending the email to a close friend—would an emoji be appropriate in that case?

Source: TurboTax

Turbotax uses a paperclip emoji to keep things professional.

Use an Email Emoji to Personalize

There’s no law requiring you to send the same email subject line emoji to your entire subscriber list.

Break your list up into different segments based on age, gender, behavior, and other qualities. Design subject lines with unique emojis for each audience. You may even decide to send text-only emails to some segments.

The point is you’re creating personalized content for unique subscribers, and research shows personalized content delivers 6x higher transaction rates.

Follow Best Practices to Avoid Spam Filters

Do emojis in email subject lines increase or decrease your chance of being flagged by spam filters? Honestly, emojis are neutral as far as spam filters are concerned—unless you fill your entire subject line with 40 emojis, which may cause a problem.

It’s more likely that other parts of your subject line may trigger spam filters. Avoid spam words like “free,” segment your campaigns, and follow other best practices to swerve spam filters. Plus, this will help make sure you’re creating the best content for your audience.

Email and Emoji Symbols: How Do They Look on Different Devices?

This is the trickiest thing about getting your email emoji strategy right.

The Evolving Emoji

Emojis might seem all fun and games until you consider that people rely on them to express emotion through text messages.

Take a look at the frowning woman emoji. On Apple phones, she looks kind of surprised and disappointed. On Google, she appears worn out and sad. Meanwhile on Samsung, she looks angry. This could throw off the entire meaning of your conversation.

Source: Emojipedia via Mashable

It’s even worse when you see the differences in the cookie emoji. On Samsung devices, it wasn’t even displayed as a cookie but rather a cracker. This could get confusing if your business runs a cookie promotion and your subscribers see a saltine cracker.

Source: Emojipedia via Mashable

Here’s some good news for emoji lovers: In 2018, smartphone manufacturers took note of the problem and made some changes to help emojis look the same across multiple devices.

Not only that, but companies constantly update their emoji sets with each operating system update. They add new emojis and give others new look. For example, most devices now allow you to choose a preferred skin color for faces.

The most striking example of the evolving emoji is the pistol. Most developers have quietly removed any semblance of a realistic weapon in favor of a toy water gun. If you manage an email list for a shooting range, the aesthetic behind your promotional email might be totally lost if it turns into a green toy on your subscriber’s end.

Source: Emojipedia

Note the evolution of the pistol emoji over the years. As of 2019, Facebook has also switched to the toy gun emoji.

How to Get Your Email Emoji Right

To achieve emoji consistency, you need to consider two things—your subscriber’s operating system and email client.

In some cases, Gmail will display emojis in their own format regardless of the operating system. In other cases, the operating system trumps the email client.

Look at this email from Hungry Howie’s. In Gmail, on a Chrome browser, with a Windows 7 operating system, the emojis are displayed as standard Unicode and one of the emojis doesn’t display at all. In Gmail on a Samsung Galaxy S8, however, the emojis display perfectly fine.

Source: Hungry Howies

Take note of the operating systems and email clients your subscribers use, and then run multiple tests to make sure your emojis display properly on each device.

Wrap up

Emojis can help you grab attention but it’s important to run plenty of tests to make sure they look the same across multiple devices.

  • Using an email subject line emoji can improve open rates drastically.
  • Most email clients support emojis, but some operating systems do not.
  • Emojis can look extremely different across different devices and email clients.

Study your audience and which devices they use before designing your emails. Don’t forget to segment your audience and run some A/B tests to see how your emojis perform.

Now you that know how to optimize your emoji game, are you using email safe fonts? Check out this blog post about using the right fonts in your email campaigns.


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