how to use emojis in marketing

Emojis in marketing – how to use them effectively

This blog will tell you everything you need to know about emojis. What they are, how to find them, what they mean and how they could help you in your marketing across email, social media and beyond. And also how to avoid misusing them and, y’know, accidentally upsetting your entire online following. 😬

If you prefer to hear this blog in podcast format then do check out our latest podcast right here.

You’ve probably seen an emoji or two in your life. Well if not, here goes…


There. How was that for you?

What are emojis?

So, what exactly are they? Emojis are small icons or images that are used, usually alongside text, to add meaning to words.

In Japanese they literally translate as ‘e’ = picture, ‘moji’ = character. The first emojis were created in 1999 by a coder working for a Japanese mobile company. He made 180 of them for use in their text messaging application.

In 2010 they became part of the Unicode Standard (the standard character coding system used across the world) meaning they could be used outside of Japan.

There are now over 3000 in existence and more being added each year. This year 59 new emojis (well, 230 with skin tone, gender variations etc) have been added, including people in wheelchairs, with hearing aids, signing, plus an otter, skunk and flamingo.

New 2019 emojis
Above: All 230 emojis approved for release in 2019. Image: Emojipedia Sample Image Collection.

How do I access them on my device?


Emojis are included by default as a secondary keyboard option. You access the keyboard by tapping the globe icon on the bottom left of your screen in mail or message apps.

If your emoji keyboard isn’t visible you can turn it on in Settings > General > Keyboard > Keyboards > Add new keyboard > Emoji




Newer Android phones have an emoji keyboard included by default.

If you have an older Android phone you’ll need a third party app like Kika, Swiftkey or Textra.

You then add emojis to your keyboard in Settings > Language and Input > Virtual Keyboard > Manage keyboards


To access emojis on a Mac you can go to System preferences > Keyboard and click Show Keyboard and Emoji viewers in Menu bar. Or you can use the shortcut: Command + Control + Space bar


Windows Desktop

Hit the Windows key + full stop or Semicolon to bring up the emoji keyboard.

Why should I use emojis in my marketing?

You may be familiar with emojis and use them daily when chatting with friends online, but have you considered using them in a marketing setting?

6 emoji-tastic stats:

  1. 📈 Emoji is the fastest growing language of all time.
  2. 📲 900m+ emojis are sent every day using Facebook Messenger.
  3. 😀 92% of all internet users use emojis (according to Adweek).
  4. 👍 On Facebook using emojis can improve your comment and share rates by 33% (says Zazzlemedia).
  5. ❤️ Putting emojis in your Tweets results in 25% more engagement on average (Wordstream).
  6. 📧 Emojis in marketing email subject lines can increase open rates (read on for more on this).

But more than, emojis help people express themselves more clearly.

Emojis are a real part of the way we communicate today. Emojis add context to conversations in a way that transcends one language.

— Amy Barker, Sr Product Director, Brandwatch (full report)

5 reasons to consider using emojis:

  1. They convey meaning that words can’t (particularly useful for when text can be misread/misunderstood)
  2. 😜 They add to your brand’s personality
  3. They give you another opportunity for visual branding (just think about Domino’s repeated use of the 🍕 pizza emoji)
  4. Emojis break up blocks of text, adding colour and interest 🚀
  5. They help clarify meaning to people who aren’t native speakers of your home language. 🌍

Which emojis are the most popular?

😂 Face with tears of joy is by far and away the most used. It was actually awarded Word of the Year in 2015 for the Oxford English Dictionary.

❤️ Red heart emoji – does what is says on the tin, particularly useful around Valentines Day or when reacting to puppy pics.

😭 Loudly crying face can be used as an expression of sadness, or ironically (i.e. so happy I’m crying)

😍 Smiling face with heart shaped eyes for when normal eyes just aren’t enough.

👍 Thumbs up – widely used to indicate agreement or approval, particularly in one to one message conversations.

Which emojis should I use?

Firstly, only use emojis that you understand the meaning of.

Secondly, start by using some of the more popular and recognisable.

Research conducted by Hubspot indicates that lesser used emojis can provoke greater engagement. It seems that people are drawn to the different or bizarre such as an 🐙 octopus, 👖jeans or 🍒 cherries. Although I wouldn’t suggest crowbarring in random unicorn emojis, it might be worth experimenting with some of the more unusual ones.

What ways can I use emojis…

…on social media?

  1. Encourage your audience to respond to a question using only emojis, for example “What are your holiday plans?” Could result in a string of interesting and inventive responses 🏂🍺  , with the added bonus of brevity people appreciate when using smartphones.
  2. Challenges your followers to translate a string of emojis, i.e. ‘What film is this?” For inspiration, try
Emoji fun
Courtesy of

…in emails?

The use of emojis in emails polarises opinion – some people love them and some hate them.

Emojis in subject lines can boost open rates by 25% (60% of the time), but can also hurt open rates by a similar same margin, according to Econsultancy.

Essentially, a emoji or two won’t make or break an email subject line. They will simply amplify the good or make a bad subject line seem more spammy.

Therefore, the use of emojis in emails should be carefully managed. They are less native to email than they are to social media or chat apps, so can appear jarring and out of place. You shouldn’t use emojis in one to one business emails, unless you’re really familiar with the person.

In email marketing you should be sparing with your use and only use emojis where they support your message. If they don’t, then use them. Simple.

…in customer service.

Emojis help convey emotion and understanding, so can be really useful in dealing with customer queries or problems. However, they should be used alongside text (rather than replacing it) to make sure there’s no possibility of misunderstanding.

6 top tips for using emojis in your marketing

  1. Be appropriate. Consider whether your target audiences are likely to appreciate emojis – will they be engaged or put off? A 2016 YouGov report found that 58% of consumers think marketers are trying to hard with emojis in ad campaigns.
  2. 😇Be mindful. Remember you are representing a business and anything you do has to reflect the brand voice of your company.
  3. Be understanding. Don’t use an emoji if you don’t know what it means. Learn from various advertisers’ Netflix and chill blunders. 🤣
  4. Be authentic. Think of emojis like slang, or another language – it’s hard to fake.
  5. Be clear. Don’t replace important words with emojis.
  6. Start small. Maybe pick a handful of emojis that are right for your brand and use them consistently, it’ll help build your brand voice.

Useful tools:

Turn any text into emojis at

Easily copy and paste emojis into your posts/blogs/documents at