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Emoji marketing tips 🧠

Since the first emoji was created in 1999, they have become a literal language of their own. Find out how to harness their power in your marketing messages.

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Adding visual aids to our virtual conversations began long before the birth of emojis. In grade school, you might remember typing “07734” on your calculator and turning it upside down (spoiler alert, it spells hello). On your flip phone you were likely texting friends things like :-)) :(( and the ever-cryptic ;))

Today, there are over 2,823 emojis in existence. They help us share everything from our mood to what we’re eating for lunch. But beyond their inherent cuteness, there’s actually a science to the efficacy of using emojis within marketing messages. Not only are the findings surprising, they’re also hard to ignore.

What is emoji marketing?

Emoji marketing is the use of emoticons as a mood-enhancing communication device that works to give your brand identity while connecting with your audience in a way that makes your textual information more memorable and easy to absorb.

92% of internet users use or have used emojis. If you’ve ever used them on your mobile device, then you’re familiar with the fact that your keyboard recognizes these icons as their very own language! So what does this mean for marketers?

Well, for starters, it’s impacted how consumers search for information. This has caused communication hubs and search engines to adjust accordingly. For example, Google’s gboard is now emoji search enabled. Some companies have even started soliciting feedback by encouraging customers to submit emojis instead of traditional numerical satisfaction ratings!

The question is, should you incorporate emojis into your latest marketing strategy?

Emoji marketing statistics

One of the best ways to begin understanding why emojis are a valuable tool is to have a look at the impact they have on the consumer.

  • Push notifications with emojis saw 85% increase in open rates and a 9% bump in conversions
  • The open rate with emojis in the subject line is 56% higher compared to plain subject lines
  • A study conducted on the effects of impression formation, affect, and cognition in chat transcripts found that there was a correlation between the presence of emojis and the cognition and attention of the audience. The study found that
    • Recipients had a better memory of conversations that included emojis
    • Users also regarded the experts who used emojis as more friendly and competent
  • Research found that a smiley face online is equivalent to looking at a smiling face in real life

Though they may seem like more of an afterthought to your messaging, proactively seeking out opportunities to incorporate emojis into your marketing strategy can help you influence audience impressions.

Examples of companies demonstrating emoji marketing

Some big brands have taken the idea of emojis as a communication tool and run with it. While some of these use cases are extreme, they give you a good idea of what’s possible.


Dominos made pizza history as the first company to enable customers to order pizza by simply texting an emoji. All you have to do is opt in to their text program by adding your mobile number to a “Pizza Profile” on Domino’s website. After that, just text πŸ• to 374992.

Smithsonian Institution

The Smithsonian is a great example of an organization taking advantage of emojis even though they wouldn’t typically be considered “on-brand” for them. They tastefully rolled out their campaign on World Emoji Day by encouraging followers to tweet them an emoji, and they would respond with a link to view one of their exhibits that was the emoji-equivalent to what was sent. This caught fire so quickly, their social media team had to extend their timeline beyond World Emoji Day to try and accommodate the influx of requests!

Photo credit: @Smithsonian twitter

Taco Bell

In a Cinderella story for the ages, Taco Bell used a lack of emojis to their advantage for a marketing campaign. More specifically, the lack of a taco emoji. Back in 2015 the “Bell” lobbied Unicode for the addition of a taco emoji and heavily communicated their efforts with their audience. People became highly invested, they even started petitions! Taco Bell ultimately won their appeal and the success helped their brand permanently associate themselves with this universally loved and heavily used emoji.


As a response to the popular “Share a Coke” campaign, Pepsi took advantage of the universal language aspect of emojis and launched their “Say it with Pepsi” campaign. Instead of personalizing cans of their soda with people’s names (like Coke did) they opted to create cans featuring emojis instead. The idea here was to extend beyond language barriers and unite everyone through the universally understood language of emojis. What resulted was a highly successful global campaign.

Tips For effective emoji marketing

Like most things in life, too much of a good thing is too much. Marketers (and millennials) are all in agreement that trying too hard and forcing emojis into your conversation results in a total loss of clarity and credibility.

A good rule of thumb for deciding the appropriate time to use an emoji is to ask yourself, “Will using an emoji help me get my message across?” To demonstrate, take a look at how an emoji softens and enhances the following example text messages to create more of a personal connection.

  1. “We’re happy you could join us at the Open House” vs. “We’re happy you could join us at the Open House 😊🏑”
  2. “Ticket sales end in one hour, they’re going fast” vs. “Ticket sales end in one hour, they’re going fast πŸ‘€”
  3. “Salsa night tonight, the party begins at 8” vs. “Salsa night tonight πŸ’ƒ, the party begins at 8”

Most popular emojis for marketers

The folks over at HubSpot did a little research and found out some details about the most useful emojis for achieving different business goals. Here are some of their most interesting finds:

  • The Top Ten Emojis Most Likely to Increase Engagement (in ascending order of popularity)
    • πŸ™†β€β™€οΈπŸ’πŸ πŸ’ƒπŸŒ€πŸ’˜πŸ˜”πŸ’•πŸ˜₯πŸ’“
  • The Top Ten Emojis Most Likely to Encourage Click-Through (in ascending order of popularity)
    • πŸ™πŸ΄πŸ‘–πŸ’πŸš‚πŸ³οΈπŸŒ‰πŸ†“πŸ‘‡πŸŽŸ

What SimpleTexting customers think about emojis

Here at SimpleTexting we are firmly pro-emoji. We’ve even worked up a help-desk article to help you sort through some of the most frequently asked questions about using emojis in text marketing.

This has come in handy for thousands, but especially our customers who connect with youth through SMS marketing. For Matt, a youth pastor at Life Chapel in New Jersey, they’ve been a helpful tool for connecting youth with their faith.

No matter how you slice it, emojis in marketing is a trend that’s here to stay. In the meantime, we can’t wait to πŸ‘ what you super ⭐️’s do with these tips in your 🧰!

Meghan Tocci
Meghan Tocci

Meghan Tocci is a content strategist at SimpleTexting. When she’s not writing about SaaS, she’s trying to teach her puppy Lou how to code. So far, not so good.

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