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Email Marketing Guide: Does your email subject line need an emoji?

Emoticons, Smileys, and now Emojis: it has been a fascinating journey. Today, emojis seem to inevitably turn up every time I have a conversation with someone, wherever or whoever it is. They seem to be a popular way of expressing general emotions without having to type out a detailed verbal expression. But hang on, we marketing professionals are always looking for things that are popular so that we can use them to concentrate public attention on our wares, right? So why leave the emoji out? Let’s look at how Emojis can aid us in internet marketing.


Well, it turns out that we’re not the first to think of it. It didn’t take us much to realise that emojis in email marketing, especially their role in the subject line, has been subject to a respectable amount of debate. In fact, the guys (sorry, lads) at Experian went so far as to come up with a detailed report on it (you can find it here). From all of that, it seems that Emojis can sometimes help, and sometimes harm your marketing emails. Here’s a bit more detail on how you can use them:

Do It, but be Appropriate

No matter how sad or how grave your emoji looks, remember that it is what it is, a fun icon to lighten the air. Never use an emoji in an email conveying serious information. Not only will this decrease your click-through, it might also lead to the recipients not taking you seriously.

That said, for most newsletters or promotions or invitations or (positive) updates, emojis can actually have a very positive effect. In particular, it seems that people of a certain age group – that between 13 to 25 – react with particular alacrity when sent emails with emojis in their subject lines. The Experian report we mentioned above mentions a 45 per cent rise in click-throughs for emails sent with appropriate emojis in their subject lines as opposed to those that don’t.

Email Client Support

Not every email client supports Emojis. A prominent example being (yes, you saw it coming), Outlook. As a rule, if you’re catering to a large demographic of customers who spend long hours at their workplace, it’s a good idea avoid the emoji for the moment. They’re not going to see it anyway, and it’ll confuse them. On that note, a good thumb rule applying to general email subject lines is don’t let the textual meaning of your subject be altered by an emoji, since you can’t yet confirm that they will see it.  

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While we’re on that topic, we found instances on the web where using certain emojis led to emails hitting spam filters. Our recommendation is to click on that link and check out which ones you can’t use – the list is pretty compressive.


The Myriads of Upsides

Now that we’re done with pointing out the potential pitfalls, let’s linger for a while in the long list of benefits that emojis have when used in email subject lines. We’re not going to gab on about each of them, so here’s a short list:

  1. Decrease in the size of your subject line, making emails better suited for mobile devices
  2. Emotions conveyed through emojis go a long way towards invoking certain solicited reactions
  3. A decent emoji can help you stand out in a long list of marketing emails, making users more likely to click on yours
  4. They present your company in a fun, light-hearted light that is likelier to draw people than companies that are neutral or have unwarranted negative connotations

In conclusion…

Have you used emoji in your email subjects? What did you observe? Write to us at

Author avatar
Shriya Garg
Shriya is the co-founder and CEO at ContentNinja. She started her first blog when she was 12 years old, and coded her first website by the time she was 14. An avid reader and writer, she published her first book when she was 16 years old and has sold over 10,000 copies since. When she's not fielding client calls, Shriya can be found cleaning cat hair from her clothes.