Email essentials

How to use emojis in subject lines [updated for 2024]

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In email marketing, using emojis for email subject lines can be a good way to capture your recipient’s attention and make your message stand out in overcrowded inboxes. Using them strategically is something you should consider if you rely on email to generate sales.

To help you make the most of emojis in your email marketing campaigns, this post will guide you through the following:

Benefits of using emojis for subject lines

Smileys, emoticons, and pictograms weren’t always used for email marketing. So why use emojis for subject lines now?

Here are some of the most significant benefits of email subject emoji to your email marketing:

  • They save space. Emojis can replace entire words, which is helpful when you have limited character counts. They can even convey much more meaning and emotion than words can.
  • They drive higher engagement. Emojis are immediately recognizable and relatable. In fact, this study shows that emojis increase customer engagement when used for emphasis and in positive contexts.
  • They give your brand personality . Using emojis can be a good way to foster an image of a friendly and approachable brand.
  • They reinforce the meaning of emails. Emojis help readers internalize messages because they are incredibly effective in conveying and triggering emotions.
  • They make emails stand out. Email inboxes are typically a sea of black and white text. So, a colorful emoji can break that dullness and quickly attract the attention of recipients. This is a huge plus for competitive email marketing

Although the benefits of using emojis for subject lines are undeniable, this study by Nielsen shows that they’re not always a guarantee of higher open rates. Furthermore, their use can trigger negative associations with your brand. You need to make sure you use them purposefully and strategically.

Watch this informative video that looks into the intricacies of crafting effective subject lines. It provides insights on various elements, including tailoring for mobile and desktop, integrating personalization, and leveraging emojis, all accompanied by real-life examples.

How to use emojis for email subject lines [+examples]

To help you maximize the value of adding emojis in your email subjects, try these strategies individually and see which works best for your audience and the message you want to convey:

1. Fit the context

Add emojis in subject lines based on the content, context, and intent of the email. Also, make sure the emojis you choose suit your brand image and are appropriate for your audience profile.

Examples of emojis in subject lines:

Sirens are usually associated with big emergencies or urgent messages, and using this email emoji in the subject line successfully incites the same exhilaration around the idea of a huge sale:

On the other hand, the calendar email emoji below might seem boring but it perfectly suits the context of the message and the nature of the sender’s business:

2. Complement the subject line

Emojis in email subject lines offer a visual representation of what is mentioned. It makes the content of the email more recognizable and relatable.

Examples of emojis in subject lines:

In this example, readers immediately feel that opening the email could be the key to a hassle-free flight when traveling with their scooters:

The example below isn’t really meant to incite any emotion but instead to break the monotony of the plain text with relevant visuals:

3. Convey a sense of urgency

The right emoji can motivate recipients to act quickly, making them useful for time-limited sales and other ecommerce offers.

Examples of emojis in subject lines:

In this example, the screaming face emoji is used to express extreme excitement and possibly fear of missing out. These emojis are made even more effective when combined with the mention of a time limit (e.g., 24-hour availability):

Similarly, the use of a clock emoji in the message below gives readers the feeling that the clock is ticking towards the offer expiration. Combined with the idea of a massive flash sale , this email subject emoji could get the reader to shop now .

4. Convey an emotion

Facial expressions are among the most useful emojis for email subject lines because people can immediately feel the emotion being conveyed.

Example of emojis in subject lines:

The email subject line below contains an astonished expression, which immediately leads readers to a feeling of mild shock and excitement:

Similarly, a shocked face combined with one of relief conveys the feeling of narrowly avoiding a disaster (i.e., missing out on a good deal):

5. Add no more than three emojis

Although emojis for subject lines are useful in capturing the attention of readers, overusing them can lead to confusion. What’s worse, they can make your emails look spammy. Try to limit your emoji use to a maximum of three per subject line. And always keep them as simple as possible.

Example of emojis in subject lines:

In the example below, notice the emoji use: the subject line contains five different emojis that aren’t even accompanied by any text. It can take a while for readers to determine what it means, which risks them losing interest:

In contrast, this brand’s emoji use: the subject line contains only three emojis, making it easier to relate to. The pumpkin is instantly associated with Halloween and the orange and black hearts are relevant to the holiday theme:

6. Use emojis instead of words

Emojis can be used in place of words not just to save space but also to make subject lines more visually interesting.

Examples of emojis in subject lines:

In this subject line example, recipients will immediately recognize the emojis as lipsticks so it isn’t necessary to spell out the items on offer:

Beyond replacing words with emojis in email subject lines, these visuals can be used in place of letters. In the example below, sun emojis are used in place of the letter O, and it works because the email is about a nail polish color reminiscent of the summer sunset:

Before you activate an email campaign , it’s always a good idea to run your subject line through a subject line tester and determine where you can make improvements for maximum impact. You should also split-test several versions to see which elicit the best responses.

How to add emojis to email subject lines

There are several ways you can add your emoji to email subject line:

  • On Windows, bring up the emoji panel using the Windows key + period (.) or Windows key + semicolon (;)
  • On Mac, you can launch the emoji selector by using the keyboard combination Ctrl + Cmd + space ( )
  • Use a website like Emojipedia to simply copy and paste an emoji you like.

Don’t forget to preview your email to see how your subject line looks on different devices.

You likely use an email marketing platform to simplify email campaign creation. If you’re wondering how to put emojis in email subject lines with these tools, there’s good news. The process is simpler than you might expect.

For example, in Omnisend, you can do it within the email editor with just a couple of clicks, and the same goes for automation workflows.

Not just the subject line, you can also add emojis to emails to make them more creative and conversational. They certainly are more engaging than plain text.

Popular emojis for email subject lines

Below are some of the top emojis for email subject lines among businesses engaged in ecommerce and various other industries. You can copy and paste the emojis onto your subject line editor, or you can follow the Emojipedia links to copy them there.

As often happens, you’ll probably find your favorite emoji for email subject line in one of the top examples below:

Emoji Emoji name (+ Emojipedia link) Popular use cases in subject lines
🎁 Wrapped gift Used in emails containing bonuses, free perks, gifts, etc.
🚨 Police car light Used in emails that announce sales , time-limited offers, etc.
❤️ Red heart Used to express gratitude, love, happiness, and similar emotions.
😮 Face with open mouth Used to emphasize the great value of an offer.
🎉 Party popper Used in emails that celebrate a special occasion or surprise offers for customers.
👉 Backhand index pointing right Used to focus the reader’s attention on the subject line or a specific part of it.
😍 Smiling face with heart-eyes Used to express enthusiastic feelings of love, infatuation, and adoration.
⏲️ Timer clock Used for time-limited offers and voucher expiration reminders.
🔥 Fire Used when sharing “hot” offers and news.
Check mark button Used to convey a positive outcome, a completed task, or to deliver verified information.

Find software that can help you craft emails that work. Check out some of the best email marketing tools that support emojis: Best small business email marketing software

Summary: Should you use emojis in subject lines?

You should definitely consider using emojis in subject lines, especially if your business exists in a competitive space. Just remember to do so carefully and strategically.

Follow the tips and best practices discussed in this post so you can maximize the benefits of emojis and avoid using them in ways that trigger negative associations with your brand.

If you’d like to learn more about writing effective email subject lines, here are some relevant resources:

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