Emojis in Marketing: How to Use Expressive Symbols to Increase Reach

Have you ever tried emojis in marketing?

If you never did, then you are missing a lot of engagement. 😬

Engaging your audience is your number one priority. Like images, emojis are slowly empowering the content by providing the same level of engagement to the readers.

Emojis started picking up in late 2019 📅. From there, the trend to use emojis just picked up. It started with social media communication apps and then slowly transferred to written content, just like what you read.

Marketers, just like you, quickly picked up the trend and used it in their social campaigns. If you look at the statistics, you will be surprised by the numbers. Over 900M+ emojis 😲 are sent every day via Facebook Messenger, and that’s just one social media app.

So, where does it leaves you? Should you use them in your content? Well, you will surely know about it once you go through the article on “Emojis in marketing.” So, let’s get started.

What are emojis?

Before we evaluate the role of emojis in marketing and how you can use them, we first need to learn what emojis are.

Technically, emojis are defined as images and small icons. They are developed and standardized based on the Unicode Standard. Emojis are widely utilized in different parts of communications, including text messages or on websites.

However, it is easy to confuse them with emoticons. Emoticons are facial representations of emotions via text. Emojis, on the other hand, are small sets of pictures with clear meaning.

Brief History

Emojis came into existence in the 1990s. In 1999, NTT DoCoMo, a Japanese marketing company, created the first emoji. And that’s where the word emoji comes in. In Japanese, it is a combination of two words, “picture” and “character.”

See the first version of emoji;

First Version of Emoji. Credit: Standards Manual

At that time, emojis offered a new level of communication aspect. The Japanese company created 180 emojis and then used them in communications among their customers via text messages.

However, emojis picked up more due to the internet. That was made possible with the emojis standardization using Unicode. The biggest beneficiaries were communities. Communities started to express themselves better, which improved the level of engagement among the members.

At the time of writing, Unicode currently supports 3,633 emojis.👀

Big companies like Apple also helped mainstream emojis when they included emojis as a permanent part of their iOS ecosystem in 2011.

If you want to read more about emojis history in-depth, check out Wired’s coverage on it: Emoji: The Complete History | WIRED

Why use Emojis?

Emojis are exciting.

They spice up a conversation and also add meaningful context to messages.

But does that apply to marketing?

If you check social media accounts of popular brands, you will instantly see them using emojis to great effect. That’s because it greatly improves the message’s reach and engagement.

According to WordStream, Tweet’s reach increased by 25% when used with emojis. A similar trend is seen on other platforms, including Facebook.

But, what makes emojis stick out and improve engagement? Let’s find out how emojis can help you.

Engage your audience

There is no doubt that emojis improve engagement. If you consider your personal messages and communication with friends, you will find a high use of emojis. And, why not? Emojis are fun to use and also engage the other person. Moreover, it also adds context to written text as it lacks emotions.

For brands, emojis improve engagement.

Messages with emojis stand out compared to bland messages. They also provide a friendly tone and invite people to interact with the audience. The support for emojis on social media platforms has also allowed people to use emojis when communicating. Also, emojis are much easier to use than videos or images, making them a better choice for most people.

Emojis are prevalent and impactful on social media and pop-up content such as push notifications. Text notifications with emojis perform way better compared to plain text notifications.

Overall, you get a better engagement with emojis!

Include human element

Emojis can help your brand to humanize its messaging. As a business, your main priority is to gain the trust of the audience. With trust, you are bound to grow as consumers always market the brand that they trust.

With emojis, you can take the trust to another level by humanizing your brand and enabling your consumers to relate better to you. Most people trust brands that connect with them. By speaking the audience’s language through emojis makes you feel a brand that cares about them…as you use emojis just like they use in their daily social media life.

You can find many big brands and even sports organizations such as F1 utilizing emojis to better connect with their audience.

Take the following example. F1 uses two emojis to humanize their content and better connect with their audience.

Here, is another example.

You can find similar patterns on Twitter pages of different companies. Emojis are also useful to make your post stand out among millions of posts that are posted online.

As a brand, your job is to understand your audience and then use emojis strategically. Overdoing emojis can upset your audience and make them feel not connected. So, do your research carefully and then align your emojis usage based on them.

Adding context

Emojis are equally useful in adding context to your marketing copy. You can think of them as tone changes to your content, just like an exclamation mark would do!

Taking about context, emojis also act as a way to convey emotions. However, using emojis on a boring copy can backfire. That’s why you need to use emojis with a good copy to enhance their effectiveness further. The key to adding proper contextual emojis is to understand your audience. Also, you need to read the copy loud with the emojis name to ensure that you have used the correct emojis in your text. The goal is to improve clarity and not confuse or make things complex for your readers.

Brand personality

Last but not least, emojis ads value your brand personality. If you are a brand that excels at raising awareness about a social problem — you can use emojis to improve further your chance to connect with your audience. This way, you can use emojis to represent your brand personality, where emojis act to convey your brand identity.

Youth brands, for example, can utilize witty or funny emojis to connect with their audience, humanizing their brand identity. So, when the audience finds the emojis somewhere else, they can relate that emoji with your brand.

Tips to effectively utilize emojis in marketing

Now that we have understood the effectiveness of emojis in marketing, it is time to share some tips to use them correctly. Let’s get started.

General Tips

1) Figure out if you want to use them or not

Emojis are fun to use, and they improve your engagement. That means using them is a win-win situation, right?

Well, it completely depends on your brand’s image and your audience type. For example, emojis may not be a great pick for serious services such as medical services or an investment company offering advice to its audience.

That’s why you need to know your audience before exposing them to emojis! Also, it is always okay to experiment with a small section of your consumers and find out how your audience reacts.

2) Use emojis by understanding their meaning

Emojis can be confusing. Some emojis are straightforward, such as smile 😃, while others can be confusing, such as pretzel 🥨.

You also need to understand emojis from a cultural standpoint. Some emojis may signal slang in a particular context. For example, people can use emojis to convey racism. While you may not intend to use it in a bad way, a cultural understanding can make it meaningful to others.

If you take the peaches emoji 🍑, you will find different people interpreting it differently. For instance, some may see it as butt, while others may perceive it as sexual. At the same time, some people may see how it is intended to be seen, i.e., a fruit. The readers’ perception completely depends on the context they are using, their background, or their cultural understanding.

Image Source: prismoji

Emojipedia offers a good understanding of how readers across the globe perceive each emoji. So, it is always a good idea to check them before making the call to use a particular emojis.

3) Don’t overuse emojis

If you are reading carefully until now, you will notice that we have used emojis sparkingly. That’s because we do not want to overuse emojis as they can lead to distraction. It is common for companies to overuse emojis, thinking that their audience will relate to them. In most cases, the audience automatically rejects messages that have too many emojis. That’s because they find it spammy and hard to understand. Emojis are meant to provide context, add context or a visual clue to ease understanding, and hence provide engagement. Using too many emojis does the complete opposite, defeating the purpose of using emojis in the first place.

You can find the overuse of emojis mostly on social media platforms such as Facebook or Reddit.

4) Use emojis to boost brand identity with it

We already discussed brand personality, where you use it to boost brand personality. You can also use emojis to identify with your brand. For example, you can use an emoji consistently with your brand, and when people see the emoji, they instantly think about your brand. The association can work wonders for your business as it opens up new ways to connect with your audience and build trust among them.

You are also free to create your own emojis to boost your brand identity.

McDonald, for example, used their own set of emojis to market their project — enabling their customers to associate with the emojis.

Another excellent example would be Domino’s pizza, where they utilized the 🍕 emoji heavily.

Another popular food outlet, Taco Bell, created their Taco emoji and attached it with their brand identity.

5) Make sure that your emojis are not confusing people

Emojis are there to help you advance your marketing campaign and not confuse your audience. Sometimes, brands use emojis in such a way that it confuses the audience. There are plenty of examples out there that would easily point you out on how badly emojis are utilized. To ensure that it doesn’t happen with your brand, you may want to test your copy with a small audience before making it live to a larger audience.

Platform-based tips

Apart from the general tips on emojis in marketing, we also need to cover the different platforms as well. Let’s go through them one by one.

Social media

If you have to pick one platform where emojis naturally reside, then it would be social media. Emojis are very prevalent on social media, and almost everyone uses emojis in one form or another. Some social media people use it to gain attention from their readers, while others use it to respond to their friend’s posts.

There are multiple benefits of using emojis on social media, including adding context to your message. Moreover, as a brand, you can also encourage users to reply using emojis by assigning an option to the emojis. As people love expressing themselves, they prefer emojis more than plain text, and if you encourage them, you will see better engagement.

Social media apps on mobile enjoy more engagement as mobile keyboards are fine-tuned to use emojis better than laptops, computers, or even tablets.

Facebook understood the importance of emojis early on. That’s why you will see a whole set of emojis that you can use to react to a post — including like, love, haha, wow, sad and angry. This improves engagement level on a whole new level as Facebook users do not have to use any special keyboard or interface to react to a post via emojis.

Paid social advertising

Paid advertising is also a great place to explore emojis and use them to improve engagement. Adexpresso did an A/B test on how the impact of emojis in paid social advertising.

They ran two ads, one with emoji and another one without emoji. And, what did they find?

They found an astonishing 241% increased conversion rate for the emoji-one compared to the non-emoji one.

You can read more about their experimentation here: How to Use Emojis in Facebook Ads.

Email marketing

Email marketing also works well with emojis! You can easily find emails using emojis in your inbox! Just like other channels and platforms, emojis provide better engagement with the audience. With this, you are bound to get better open rates as well!

In email marketing, your job is to make the subscribers take the next step. That’s why you need to carefully plan how to utilize emojis along with your email copy. However, never ever try to overuse emojis in your email copy as it can lead to dissatisfied subscribers, and many of them can even take aggressive steps such as unsubscribing.

Emoji marketing resources

As emojis are exploding, you will find tons of online resources that explore emojis. We found the following resources to be excellent and frequently updated with the new emojis. These platforms include the following:

Pros and Cons of Emojis in marketing

Before we conclude, let’s quickly go through the pros and cons of using emojis in marketing.

Pros

  • Emojis work great when it comes to building a brand’s image.
  • Brands take both serious or casual emoji usage and see how they can connect.
  • Brands can create their own emojis and make them exclusive to the brand.
  • Emojis take less space and hence provide value when used on restricted platforms such as Twitter.
  • Emojis can easily overcome geographical restrictions and provide meaning to a broader audience.
  • Emojis, when used correctly can make the copy stand out.

Cons

  • Emojis don’t fit in serious scenarios and hence are not ideal for professional settings.
  • Emojis can appear differently on different email clients
  • Emojis evolve faster than you can expect. This means you need to constantly keep researching and keep up with their changing narratives and meaning.

Conclusion

Emojis in marketing are the way to go. If you are not in a serious business, you are mostly in a place where you can use emojis to push your brand to success. In short, emoji marketing can become a key part of your overall marketing push and evolve your marketing messages better to provide excellent engagement. With emoji marketing still in its infant age, brands are free to experiment and find out what’s works for them. However, the general method that every brand should follow includes understanding their audience, researching what they like, finding the social media platform to use emojis, and then use it moderately.

The goal is to humanize your brand, add context, build trust, increase engagement and improve conversions. A contextual approach where you research what each emoji means and how to use them to your advantage is the key. There are obviously do’s and don’ts of emoji marketing. For example, you surely don’t want to overuse emojis as it can alienate your audience.

The examples used in the post are for your understanding — this means that these strategies might not work for you. And that’s where experimentation comes in as you explore the different aspects of your audience — and use emojis accordingly.

So, what’s next? Are you going to use emojis in your marketing? Do let us know by commenting below.

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