Emojis Boost Email Engagement

Email subject lines containing emojis have a higher read rate than text-only messages, according to a study released Tuesday by Return Path, but selecting the correct emoticon is critical to earn the greatest return on investment.

Emojis, or emoticons, give marketers an opportunity to stand out from a crowded inbox by using a digital icon recognizable to smartphone users. Emojis won’t automatically land emails in the spam folder, either, according to Return Path’s report.

The findings from the study,  Emoji Use in Email Subject Lines, analyzed more than 17,000 marketing messages from a consumer panel of 2 million subscribers. The study totals more than 5.4 billion commercial email messages sent to Microsoft, Google, Yahoo and AOL email users from March 1, 2016 through March 31, 2017. 

Not all emojis are as impactful, however, so its important for marketers to choose wisely and A/B test their campaigns to determine what image would be the most effective in driving subscriber engagement.

For example, the emoji of a clinking champagne glass had a 9% read rate on New Year’s, far below the average for all other emojis studied by Return Path during the holiday. Emails with the wrench emoji in the subject line over Father’s Day, however, boosted read rates to 22%. Likewise, the lips emoji drove email engagement around Valentine’s Day and increased read rates to 24% when compared to text-only promotions.

“What works one time may not work every time,” states Tom Sather, senior director of research at Return Path. "Every brand needs to find its own voice and understand its unique audience.”


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