The humble emoji. They were once formulated through clever usage of punctuation, or as the fantastically named Unicode Consortium (the international gatekeepers for emojis) call it ‘ASCII Character Combinations’. There is a slight difference between emojis and emoticons so if you are pedantic then you can indulge yourself on the rules here but for now emojis are the fun little faces and images that are used to accompany text.
Anyway, in the past users of emojis have almost solely been spotty prepubescent teenagers irritating their parents by constantly texting their friends. Somewhat ironically, the majority of us now cannot live without our mobile phones and emojis appear to be the universal language which spans generations, locations and borders. The widespread usage of smartphones has led to emojis being part of our everyday mobile lives (Apple introduced an emoji keyboard to their IOS back in 2011) and are useful ways to convey emotions almost instantly. The spotty teenager is now the parent, young professional, banker, lawyer, student and everything in between. The language previously only used by the young is now visibly infiltrating business emails, social network functionality and, you guessed it, marketing campaigns!
There was even World Emoji Day on July 17th….
Global brands are experimenting with emojis in an attempt to connect with their demographics and evoke an emotional response, with mixed results. Have a look at Chevrolet’s announcement or Goldman Sach’s cryptic view on millenials life choices. Like any form of marketing, just because emojis are highly popular does not mean that they suit your brand tone or are the best form of communication to your customers. As always, there are two sides of the coin. If they do fit your brand tone then there is evidence that they could provide your marketing communication with a boost:
Emojis in email subject lines
Experian investigated the effect of including emojis in subject lines on email open rates. They found that over half of those that used emojis saw an uplift in open rates, depending on the emoji used. More on this in another post but some businesses saw open rates increase nearly 15% by using the emoji of a black sun, with umbrellas producing a scarcely believable 50% increase in some cases. An important point to remember is that Microsoft outlook is notoriously bad at displaying emojis and will often just replace it with the word ‘emoji’!
Emojis and Social Commerce
It appears as though the planets are aligning. The arms race for social commerce is in full swing, Facebook are testing their Reactions emojis on their platform and brands have been experimenting with emojis for social commerce. For example, Domino’s have been testing ordering via social media by simply using emojis – through setting an ‘Easy Order’ preference and details on your Domino’s profile and simply tweeting with a pizza emoji to Domino’s. Pretty cool huh.
Yes emojis are capable of delivering a message using less space or characters than actual text. A lot of the discussion around emojis is their ability to convey emotions almost instantly. However, the choice of thousands of emojis can also produce confusion. The fact that HubSpot, amongst others, felt it the need to produce a translation guide for emojis is not necessarily a positive sign for businesses looking to harness the power of emojis for their marketing communication. Should the ambiguity of certain emojis put you off using them in your marketing? Not necessarily. It’s a case of ‘horses for courses’, some businesses will be able to use emojis, some will not. Here a few tips:
– If your target demographic are millenials or Generation Z and your brand tone lends itself to more humorous communications then you may be able to incorporate emojis into your marketing
– Use emojis that have a clearly recognisable message. It is essential to avoid any ambiguity (unless that is what you are trying to achieve!)
– Employing emojis on more serious topics is a risky tactic
– Don’t get carried away. We all know someone who uses way too many hashtags – don’t be the emoji version of that person.
It is an exciting time for our beloved little characters. There are no hard and fast rules for their use in marketing – treat the above bullet points as loose guidelines. Organisations such as the World Wide Fund for Nature have successfully used emojis in campaigns when at a glance they would not appear to have been suitable for their communication. There is going to be an element of testing the water with the use of emojis so do your research, produce creative ideas and have a go. Finally, expect snowman and present related emojis to be prevalent in the run up to Christmas!