Recently, Matt Started using animated emoticons in his email subject lines:
And, it turns out you guys just can’t get enough of them.
Not only are they much more effective…
But, Matt’s drowning in messages asking how you can use email icons for yourself.
So, by popular demand, here’s the ultimate guide to using emoticons in your emails…
What Will I Learn?
This is by far the most comprehensive guide on emoticons for email.
You’re going to learn:
Okay, let’s get stuck in…
Emoticons are powerful for a few reasons:
They’re processed by the brain 60,000x faster than words are. Meaning that readers can make a quicker, more informed decision on whether to read your email.
And research from Flinders University in Australia has shown that people respond to Emoticons in the same way they would with a human face. That means they’re more personal, and they create more emotion.
That applies to everything. Whether that’s a:
Still not sold? Let’s take a look at a real world example we can all understand:
In a study by Match.com, they found users who used emoticons for email messages had more sex than those who didn’t. In fact, the more emoticons they used, the more sex they had:
Which means when people can’t see your face – like when you send an email to your list – emoticons make you more:
Than when you send a standard text-only message. And, when people are more likely to invest time in people they like, this is a powerful weapon in your arsenal.
How people open their email is changing.
And, as of this year, 80% of people are using their smartphone to search the internet.
That’s only 11% behind the conventional desktop/laptop platform:
Which means someone is probably looking at your blog post, landing page or niche site on their phone.
To give you a personal example of this, I opened the email Matt sent me to write this article on my phone. And, I researched every piece of content cited in this article for it there too.
Because, well…I forgot to bring my laptop charger to the coffee shop.
But what’s important here is this:
People are used to seeing emoticons on their phone.
Yet they still aren’t used to seeing them in their emails. Which means they’re comfortable for readers, but they’re still able to stand out!
Emoticons still have a powerful impact on a desktop level – as you’ll see next – but as more and more email users switch to mobile platform, it’s time to take advantage of that.
Whether that means using them in all your messages, or just a mobile-friendly segment of your list, is up to you. But we’ll cover testing a little later on.
No, I’m not going to show you people using emoticons to have sex. Behave.
Instead I’m going to show you a site using emoticons to boost their email open rates. Which is the real reason you came to the page, right?
Earlier this year, Rene Kulka of Optivo.de, ran an experiment to see whether animated emoticons improved his open rates.
He chose a segment of his mailing list who were likely to open his emails on Gmail Desktop and added the emoticons to his subject lines.
And, as a control group, he ran the same experiment with a non-animated emoticon too.
After 70 hours he checked to see how the unique open rate had changed. Here are the results:
Not bad for adding a moving emoticon, eh?
Although the guys over at MailChimp are sat on the fence about the use of Emojis. A common trend seems to be this:
Using a relevant emoticon in your subject line will always boost open rates.
In analysis by eConsultancy, they found that just adding a simple Unicode emoticon to the start of your email could improve open rates.
By using a friendly snowman to the start of an email subject, a lot of marketers could see up to 65.75% more opens than average:
But the key here – for any marketing campaign using emoticons – is relevance.
That is, the emoticon you use must fit the subject line you’re writing.
For example, here are some highly relevant subject lines:
And, here are some highly irrelevant subject lines:
See the difference?
There’s also an argument to be made for using multiple emoticons in your subject lines. Or, grouping them in creative ways, like in this image (click to enlarge):
But there isn’t enough conclusive data for me out there to tell you whether that is, or isn’t, a good strategy right now.
You’re getting to the actionable bit, I promise. But there’s another subject I need to cover before I do.
Your mailing list is different to every other mailing list out there. Nobody reading (or writing) this article has the same mailing list as you. Which means there is no cookie cutter strategy to what emoticons do, and don’t, work.
Which means it’s worth your time to research some important factors on your mailing list:
Because in certain inboxes emoticons will look different.
Gmail has a more colourful view:
While other inboxes have a much more monotone, but still effective, set of emoticons:
That could impact the emoticons you choose. Because, while one may look sleek in Yahoo email! It might look terrible in Outlook. Probably not, but it’s worth knowing.
There’s also the case for the mailing list service you use.
For example, MailChimp will let you use emoticons like you’d find on a smartphone. But as they show in this article (link) they may not show up in all inboxes just yet:
But when they do show up, they’re next level good:
Which means that you might have to use copy and paste emoticons, instead of the inbuilt ones.
There is also every chance that your audience could see them as spammy, clickbait, dirty tricks that they hate.
What I’m really saying here is that you need to test everything you do and see how the audience reacts.
Here are some test ideas that are worth starting with:
There are hundreds of other variations too. But the way you’re going to find them is by getting into the trenches, sending emails and running the tests.
In order to do that though, you need to know how to get emoticons into your subject line.
That brings me to the smoothest transition to the next section of a blog post, ever…
Okay, I’ve bombarded you with theory so far.
But now it’s time to get to the super actionable stuff that you can use to create tasty, clickable, subject lines.
There are a few ways to do this, and I’ve listed the most effective ones here. And how to do them. Because I’m just a swell guy.
Unicode Emoticons are text based and are super easy to copy and paste. They’re basic, but they will show up in any and all inboxes.
Simple head to a Unicode page, like this one. Or Google search Unicode Emoticons and look at their dazzling display of them:
Then choose the one you like:
And copy and paste it in to your email subject line:
Not all inboxes support animated emoticons just yet. But as you saw in the case study before, they’re powerful for the segment that can see animated emoticons for gmail.
The simplest way to do this is to head to this blog post from Rene, who ran the case study, and look at his list of animated emoticons:
Looking through them you can find some really funny animated emoticons that are guaranteed to grab peoples attention.
Now, this isn’t like this Unicode method. Don’t copy and paste the icon. Instead, copy and paste the little square above it:
It’ll show up as that square in the subject line, like this:
But as soon as you send it, it’s magically transformed into a moving emoticon:
MailChimp is the only email-marketing client that boasts it’s own set of emoticons right now.
But I’m sure with the recent surge in popularity – and success – others wont be far behind. (Note: I’ll update this post as soon as any others do. And, if I’m wrong, please let me know in the comments).
So if you’re lucky enough to be on MailChimp, here’s how to do it…
Create a new campaign:
Select Regular Campaign:
Then choose from the list of emoticons on offer, under the little smiley face tab:
There’s one final resource that I love:
Using Twitter Emojis in your subject lines.
Simply head to this link right here, which will bring up this huge display of Emoji’s:
Now, you don’t copy and paste these in the same way as the others. Instead you need to click on the icon you like, which will bring up this command box:
Copy and paste that in to your email subject line. And, you’re ready to go…
Okay, this was a long post about animated emoticons. But everything in it was on a need to know basis.
Let’s recap the key points, shall we?
So, all that’s left to ask now is – how are you going to start using animated emoticons in your email subject lines?
Let me know in the comments…