Emoji use: Love it or hate it?

Love them or hate them; emojis are undoubtedly here to stay. Seemingly a comparatively new phenomenon, they have actually been in existence since the ‘90s. However, their popularity has truly boomed in the last decade, and today their prevalence is complete. But where do they stand in business?

If you’re wondering whether to implement or shun them, have questions about when and where they should be used, if they are effective communication tools etc., then read on!

We’ve put together some information that should help you determine your business’ policy towards emojis within your marketing communications.

What are emojis?

Before we get into the whys and wherefores of emoji usage in company marketing, what exactly are they? In short, it’s a tiny digital image that can be used instead of words to express emotion within online communications. Historically, they were created by putting together different symbols or punctuation found on every standard keyboard. Now there is a huge variety available from faces with different expressions, animals, foods, weather, everyday objects, people in different situations or poses, and so much more! Emojis used to be an additional feature, but now they come as standard within smartphone operating systems; but if you still want more, you can even include celebrity-branded sets.

The purpose of emojis is to convey emotions and ideas in the absence of text; after all, a picture is worth a thousand words! They are informal and can be highly effective because it is widely believed they elicit an emotive response to ensure your marketing resonates more effectively.

Why use emojis in marketing?

Today’s marketing is very different from the marketing of old, with consumers demanding increasingly more personalised and, indeed, personable information. Today, consumers are far more likely to be inspired to engage with your brand when they feel an emotional connection, and that’s where the informal and evocative emojis can help. Emojis also help to get the attention of the reader, and as well as showing a personal touch, they offer a level of honesty and approachability too.

Their efficacy will depend on the nature and the channel of the communication being distributed, but in many cases, emojis can enhance the messaging therein. For example, when targeting prospects/customers with email who know you as a brand, the use of emojis in the subject lines can increase open rates by as much as 25%. However, when they don’t work, they really don’t work (reducing the open rate by as much as 60%), so they’re not to be used in a blanket fashion across the board.

Emojis are perhaps most commonly found across social media – consumers are likely to use them in their own interactions, so seeing them on corporate pages will not alienate them. In fact, it is likely to endear the user to you more, giving a sense of familiarity, warmth and emotional intimacy that they wouldn’t otherwise get.

When and how to use emojis in marketing

Whilst emojis can be beneficial to brands in that they can help customers or prospects engage with you; it’s essential to use them in appropriate ways.

📧 Email marketing, As mentioned above, emojis can be used in subject lines to great success, with open rates increased by as much as 25%. However, they can also serve to alienate customers if they are not familiar with you, and this will also depend on the content of the email itself. Use sparingly and only in appropriate circumstances to get the best results, rather than having a blanket policy across all email marketing.

📱 Social media. This the channel where most businesses first feel comfortable using emojis due to the informal nature. They can have a significant impact on your audience interaction too. For example, emojis in a tweet can result in a 25% increase in engagement. On Facebook, posts might be shared up to 33% more, as well as an increase in interactions of 57% on your posts.

However, not all social media channels are created equal, so you need to know the difference. Reddit, for example, is filled with user-generated content, a lot of which is text and, as such, doesn’t lend itself well to emoji usage. Furthermore, LinkedIn is more of a professional social network, so whilst you do see emojis on there, you need to be extremely mindful of context and which emojis are used, and when and where. They may not be well-received by your audience! Visual social media platforms such as Instagram and Pinterest will lend themselves well to emoji usage; the imagery and average user age make it appropriate.

💼 Professional communications. If your business sends out important documentation, there are health and safety updates or anything of that ilk, even if sent by email, emoji usage would likely be inappropriate. You need to make a judgment call on the content of your messaging, why you’re sending it and to whom, and in many cases, the tone with emojis would be fundamentally wrong.

A key point to remember is that emojis should be integrated throughout your marketing strategy as a whole and should not be confined to a single channel or used all the time. Your brand needs to be consistent, and while that doesn’t mean using the same things at all times across multiple platforms, it means having a blended mix with content tailored to the individual message it needs to communicate.

Remember, not everyone will interpret emojis in the same way and certainly not on an international level either, so bear this in mind if you operate outside of the UK too. They won’t appeal to all either, so you need to be mindful of your key demographics and which audiences use which channels. Older generations might find them unprofessional, expecting more traditional methods of communication.

Think of the overall plan

Using emojis in marketing ultimately humanises your brand, which will assist with the transition from customer to advocate as they form an emotional connection to you. But using emojis is only a small part of this process and needs to be included within a much broader marketing strategy to be successful. One of the best ways of using emojis is within a robust testing plan so you can see where and when they work and with whom. Try split testing communications, so half the audience see the message with emojis and half without. Comparing the responses is one of the most effective ways of ascertaining what will work. That way, any future decisions you make can be data-driven.

Like most things within marketing, emojis are subjective, and the best way of using them effectively is with the right demographic. You need to really understand your audience/user base to get this right. And once you do, you’ll be laughing 😂! 

Let us know how you feel about emojis, are they something that you avoid using or can’t you get enough?

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