Subject Lines: To Emoji Or Not To Emoji

Emojis are kind of a big deal these days. And whether you love them or hate them, or love some of them and hate the rest, or kind of like a lot of them but no not really, they’re here for the long haul. And that means, feelings aside, marketers should consider them when putting together campaigns.

But there’s a new trend popping up that the jury is still out on: Do emojis belong in email subject lines? To help you figure this out, we’ve decided to give you a scientifically, fact-based response that will definitively put this matter to bed.



There are some benefits to utilizing emojis in subject lines, though really maybe “convenience” is a better way to describe it. Simply put: You only get so many characters to get your message across in a subscriber’s inbox. And while there’s some debate when it comes to subject lines about if there’s really a difference between an obnoxiously long one or a frustratingly short, non-descriptive one — regardless of that, it’s best practice to think of that little area as the title to your email. And a good title is everything.

Who wouldn’t want to read this email?

So much so that there’s a common rule when it comes to them: A good writer or editor will split their time between the title and the content, 80/20. And in mediums where it’s all about the clicks — both email and outside email on the wild, wild Internet — that makes a lot of sense.

So, back to that convenience thing. Space is precious in subject lines, and emojis can help to convey a message in literally one character if need be.

There’s also the added element of who you’re targeting: According to our good buddies at Litmus, 53% of emails are opened on mobile devices. So why not take advantage of that and give emojis a whirl? If they’re super popular in the messaging realm, trying them out in your subject lines isn’t a bad idea.

To top it all off, it was discovered recently that people react to emojis the same way they would react to another human’s face.

Maybe Not

But, again, emojis can be pretty divisive. And that little thing we just mentioned about how people react could just as easily work against you. There are 845 emojis available to use, which improves the probability of turning someone off of clicking your email.

This isn’t annoying.

There’s also that whole “who’s your audience?” thing we just talked about. Are they older and frightened by hundreds of tiny little faces? Did they fail a hieroglyphics course at some point in their lives? Are they the 47% of folks that check email on something that’s not a mobile device?

That last point is actually kind of important.

Very interesting. Please tell us more.
Very interesting. Please tell us more.

That’s what an all emoji subject line appeared as in Google Chrome. When opened, the emojis weren’t even the same kind as the ones that the sender used. Point being: Emojis are not compatible across the spectrum. What you think looks cute on your device can come out malformed and hideous on a subscriber’s.

So What Do We Do?

Spoiler alert: None of our findings above were very scientific.

Don’t look at us like that.

That fact is, there’s very little … facts on if emojis are thumbs up or thumbs down for subject lines. BUT you can actually do your own research that will be specific to your subscriber list, thus making it super special. How? By A/B testing of course.

Testing and making little tweaks based on the results may sound tedious, but ultimately that is what’ll be thumbs up for your subject lines and, ultimately, your email program. Doing subject line testing is just one more way you’ll get to know your subscribers a whole lot better, and one more way to maximize the potential of your email marketing.


Also check out Subject Line Testing_ 5 Things To Keep In Mind and The Science Of Email Testing.

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