How to Use Emoji in Email and Content Marketing: To ♥ or Not to ♥

If you’ve noticed that your inbox has become a bit more animated and colorful, it’s probably because more email blasts are making use of emoji and symbols.

Now, we’re not referring to the traditional smiley face emoticons (though they are certainly included), rather, more and more retailers are embracing sleeker, but still eye-catching symbols like these:

♡ ♥ ❤ © ™ ★ ☆ ☮ ☼ ☺ ← ↑ → ↓ ♩ ♪ ♫ ♬

More often than not, they’re colorful and added to subject lines to grab your attention and, hopefully, pique your interest enough that you’ll read on. Some retailers, like Banana Republic, are taking it one step further and using unconventional symbols or icons that fit in with the overall theme of the email. We covered much more about writing effective email subject lines here.

The adoption of these characters into these retailers’ marketing strategies is counterintuitive for many of us. The folks over at Street Marketing sum up this view nicely, “The primary reason I would not use emoticons in email marketing has to do with reaching the greatest number of potential customers. I firmly believe that emoticon users will be forgiving if you do not use emoticons, but those who despise the use of emoticons may not give your presentation a fair hearing if you decide to use emoticons.”

But the introduction of sleeker, more visually pleasing emoticons and symbols has marketers rethinking their position. In fact, Constant Contact and Vertical Response have introduced the aforementioned characters for use in users’ email campaigns, and even allows users to copy and paste less conventional characters.

Do these symbol-inclusive subject lines stand out in a customer’s inbox? Definitely. Are they for every brand? Probably not. So far, female-focused brands seem to be using them most, especially in subject lines like “Jeans We ♥.” The most important thing to note, though, is that they are being used sparingly. This is helping maintain their effectiveness and visual impact. The moment they become a regular character in a subject line is the moment consumers will begin to gloss over them.