Tests Show Emojis Don't Work In B2B Subject Lines

Some marketers believe emojis work in B2B emails.

They’re wrong. A new report by Outreach shows that emojis don’t lead to an increase in the reply rate — in fact, they hurt it.

The findings contradict other reports, including a 2017 study by Swiftpage that reported a 29% boost in unique opens, a 28% increase in click rates, and a 93% increase in click-through rates when emojis were used, Outreach says.  

The company concludes: “The emoji tide may be turning.”

Outreach, the provider of a sales engagement platform, conducted a four-week A/B test on different subject lines using emojis. It tested seven different sales sequences for the initial outreach to a cold prospect and a second attempt to prospects that had been tried but had never responded.

The company focused on emails in the middle or the end of the emoji test sequence. Reps had already tried a few ways to get prospects to respond before sending the test sequence.

Outreach described the sequence as follows: Step 5, Step 9, Step 15, and Step 17. In the end, the firm accumulated 2,000 samples for each subject line.  

The subject lines tested were as follows:

  • Quick call next week? (with a clock emoji).
  • Quick call next week? (with a timer).
  • Shameless last attempt (with a woman shrugging her shoulders). 
  • Shameless last attempt (with a puppy and a kitten). 
  • Shameless last attempt (with an umbrella and greenbacks).
  • What if your sales people were as persistent as me? (with a rocket, a money bag and two hands touching by the thumbs). 
  • What if your sales people were as persistent as me (with many money bags).

Outreach found that when combined across all seven test variations, there was a 42% decline in the reply rate when emojis were featured in the subject line.



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