Study: Certain emojis in email subject lines boost read rates
- Email marketing firm Return Path tested the use of emojis in subject lines and found that when used appropriately, they can help to trigger higher response rates than traditional email, according to a press release about the report.
- Subject lines containing emojis had a higher read rate than comparable text-only subject lines in some cases, the report found. The company tested email campaigns throughout the year that used emojis to match holidays or seasonal events, such as the “lips” symbol for Valentine’s Day or the “gift box” icon for Mother’s Day.
- The “smiling poop” emoji got the highest read rate when used in email subject lines, Return Path found, whose report cautions that marketers need to consider brand identity in the choice of emojis for a campaign.
Emojis are a common part of smartphone messaging and social media posts, but marketers have been hesitant to use the digital icons in email campaigns. Return Path’s study shows the unpredictability of using the cartoonish motifs in subject lines. While they helped some emails to achieve a higher read rate, others languished. For example, a campaign for Halloween costumes got a 23% percent open rate with the “spider” emoji in the subject line, but only 14% when the “skull” icon was used.
Generally, Return Path found little no rhyme or reason as to why one relevant icon was more effective than another. The results therefore underscore the need for email marketing campaigns using emojis to be A/B tested to find which icons best resonate with recipients.
Marketers must also consider that the novelty of emojis could wear off with overuse. According to Digiday, more than 250 companies launched their own emoji keyboards in 2015.
However, so far in 2017 it appears that interest in emojis is still strong from marketers and platforms. Synergy Pharmaceuticals recently released a poop emoji keyboard while Twitter upgraded its search to include emoji characters and Google's Allo messaging app now enables users to turn selfies into emojis.
Emoji characters can look different depending on the email software and devices that people use. A subject line with a broken emoji that isn’t rendered properly or looks like spam is more likely to get deleted or generate a complaint, Return Path said. The firm recommends avoiding using the same images every time and to be aware of what competitors are doing to ensure that email campaigns are most effective.