Should You Use Emojis in Email Subject Lines?

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Should You Use Emojis in Email Subject Lines | Emailcenter

Emojis are the fastest growing language in the world and are supported by most operating systems and devices. They are creeping into conversations daily, especially with the likes of Apple recommending them in replace of words when writing a text message. The question is, should we be using emojis in our email subject lines?

What is an Emoji?

An emoji is a pictorial representation of a human emotion, object or concept. They were developed first in Japan by Shigetaka Kurita in the late 1990’s and have continued to grow and spread in popularity ever since.

Shigetaka Kurita felt that everything was depicted in text, and in some cases, it was difficult to understand and digest quickly. Japanese weather forecasts always used pictures or symbols to describe the weather, such as an image of a sun for sunny. Thus the idea for emojis was born.

Should I Use Emojis in my Subject Line?

Commonly, emojis are used in email subject lines to help stand out against other emails in the inbox. Email marketers are embracing the emoji as it’s a quick and easy way to create an emotional response and engage with subscribers.

The benefits of using emojis:

  • They are understood globally
  • Being informal can boost engagement
  • Emojis can lighten the mood
  • A quick visual can help the reader understand what your email is about

Remember, the better you engage with your audience the more likely they are to open and click through on your email.

Do all Devices and Email Clients Support Emojis?

The answer to this is no. Some devices and email clients, like Android and Outlook, do not support emojis and replace them with a simple graphic or the word ’emoji’.
Devices for Emojis
Maxemail has the Litmus Email Preview tool integrated into the testing suite and we urge our users to make full use of this before sending emails.

Maxemail Litmus Email Preview Tool | Emailcenter

Outlook 2013 Test: Emoji does not display in the subject line

Maxemail - Subject Line Emoji Does Not Display | Emailcenter

Outlook 2016 Test: Emoji does display in the subject line

Maxemail - Subject Line Emoji Does Display | Emailcenter

What Else Should I Be Aware of?

Beware of misinterpretation as emojis can appear completely different on many devices. There are some emojis that can be lost in translation depending on what device or operating system the recipient is using. For example, the grinning smile emoji, which can be taken for a happy smile on a Google operating system (positive) yet a grimace on Apple devices (negative).

Emojis are not right for every company and may cause outrage with some recipients. Since emojis are meant to be fun and light-hearted, it’s not good for serious matters such as this:

Bad Use Example: ⚱️ 💀New Funeral Cover Packages for You 💀⚱️

Also, in B2B emails an emoji could also be seen as highly unprofessional. Just make sure you analyse your audience properly and use emojis that are appropriate.

What Emoji Should I Use?

Well, the obvious answer is something relevant to your email! However, the most common ones are the black heart, black sun with rays, aeroplanes and umbrellas.

Here’s a good example of how emojis can be used in an email subject line. This tells you straight away that the email is about holidays to a summer destination, which is ideal to create an emotive response from your subscribers.

Good Use Example: ☀️️ ✈️️ Great Summer Holiday Deals

The best place to search for emojis is emojipedia.org. Simply find the emoji you wish to use, copy it and paste into your subject line when building your email in Maxemail. This source will also show you what the emoji will look like on different devices and operating systems. Don’t forget, with our Litmus email testing feature you can check how it looks on different devices.

Can Use of Emojis Class Me as a Spammer?

Only if you over do it and use an emoji irrelevant to the content of your email. Don’t be lazy and just stick a load of smiley faces in, use something that’s relevant. Keep them subtle and at the beginning of your subject line as an accentuation for your email.

Emojis should be used to amplify the message, not replace it entirely:

Bad Use Example: 🌴 👙 ☀️2⃣️0⃣️1⃣️7⃣️ ☀️ 👙 🌴

Good Use Example: 🌴 2017 Holiday Deals Handpicked for You 🌴

In the bad use example, you can’t tell what the subject line is trying to convey. It isn’t wise to write a sentence completely of emojis, as this can be difficult to understand and read. Many subscribers could get frustrated with you if you are not clear in your subject lines to what your email is about.

Don’t use emojis as clickbait either, your customers aren’t stupid and if you overdo it you have potential to end up in the junk pile. The following subject line example insinuates free champagne, but if you aren’t offering that and instead mean it as a generalisation or celebration, you will not be best liked by your subscribers.

Bad Use Example: ➡️️ 🍾 FREE OFFERS FOR YOU INSIDE 🍾 ⬅️️


If you are worried about your opening message, you can get an analysis of your subject line from Phrasee who use artificial intelligence to predict how your audience will respond.

Are Emojis Right for Me?

If you are worried that emojis may not be right for you, why not perform a split test to see how well your audience receives it? We can not stress enough that testing your emails thoroughly will lead to better results, and the tools are readily available for you to use in Maxemail.

About Nicola Lush

UX/ UI and Graphic Designer at Emailcenter.

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