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Recently many of the subject lines of the 'bulk offer mails' (list includes names like SalesKart, BigStock, Vodafone, etc.) come with these fancy emojis/ emoticons. In my Gmail client, they all land in the Promotions tab perfectly!

Email Subject Lines With Emojis

While it looks nice in the first glance, but

  1. Does it improve the email open rate? I guess, the motive is to lure the users and increase the open rate in the process. (UX perspective)
  2. Does it improve the email delivery rate? (Tech perspective)
  3. Does it adversely affect the campaign anyways? (Ops perspective)
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Attention by differentiation?

Theoretically, little bursts of color and unexpected shape in the inbox will help with open rates. That will depend on the audience. Think of the oft cited Millennials who speak emoji fluently. (One catch there, if the emoji makes sense to you, it's probably not cool any more.)

Just test it

There's only one way to find out. A/B test until you gain confidence. This is one thing about email we understand very well. If you're not doing testing subject lines, you're leaving money on the table.

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  • Agreed. But do you have any past experiences in this regard that you may like to share? I do multivariate testing yes, but for this one, I need more data (those 3 Qs) before I start. – Ramnath Nov 20 '15 at 19:54
  • You can't answer those three questions with any level of confidence until you test it on your audience. I worked with an email strategy consultant who tested extended character set symbols (like stars, planes, etc) and open rates went up. But that doesn't mean much for the next project. Test every message that goes out to feed a constant stream of data that applies to your list. – plainclothes Nov 20 '15 at 20:55
  • Correct. But I do not have a sizable list where I can test. – Ramnath Nov 20 '15 at 21:00
  • It may take longer to reach statistical confidence, but you can (and should) still test. – plainclothes Nov 20 '15 at 21:01
  • I will definitely try for sure! – Ramnath Nov 20 '15 at 21:28
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The biggest problem with this is that people keep ignoring email RFC. Email is abused so much, and the abuse has lead to huge issues with how clients display emails.

Did you know that the original email protocol didn't even include attachments? Forget about HTML or anything like that...

Email systems are still using technology from the early 80s (if not before that!)

This stuff won't render properly in every client, I'd also wager it may add points to a SPAM filter score.

I really don't see emojis as being worth the effort. Your content should be good enough on its own.

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  • "technology from the early 80s"... Huh? Email is still old school, but it's not that bad. Consider that the majority of opens happen on mobile now and it doesn't look so bleak. – plainclothes Nov 20 '15 at 19:42
  • I too think likewise. But I wonder will these giants ever send offer mails with emojis in the subject line without any proper RnD? Maybe not. – Ramnath Nov 20 '15 at 19:58
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ALL email I get immediately gets deleted if it has an emoji in it! I'm an educated adult with no time or interest to look at childish cartoons. No mature adult in my circle of friends and work professionals would ever use such a thing.

Now, to tone that down a bit, I still read the title to the email, just to be sure, but I do it with one finger on my mouse on the "delete" or "spam" link.

EDIT: To emphasize my point, view the image the OP provided and tell me it isn't so.

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  • 1
    "childish cartoons" - woah there, emoji can simply serve as a substitute for facial expressions and other nonverbal signals that are present in direct conversation, but missing when switching to text. No need to go into full-prejudice-mode when the other person is merely fulfilling their part of the social contract. (I'm not saying your stance isn't widespread, but that doesn't make it any more reasonable.) – O. R. Mapper Nov 20 '15 at 15:29
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    @O.R.Mapper It's email. Learning to communicate with words is what an educated person does to convey meaning. When was the last serious business letter you received that had smiley faces on it? Blinking lights, smiley faces and explosions are the domain of spam, things you don't want, things you don't need, Saturday morning TV, and nothing else. Look at the image the OP shows. Same thing. – Rob Nov 20 '15 at 18:46
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    This isn't an answer though. It's one, subjective opinion. Do you know if the majority of people feel the same? Have you read any studies? – JonW Nov 20 '15 at 19:06
  • @Rob: "Learning to communicate with words is what an educated person does to convey meaning." - learning that communication consists of more than words is what an educated person considers while communicating. "When was the last serious business letter you received that had smiley faces on it?" - as I said above, others share your stance, but that does not make it any more reasonable. – O. R. Mapper Nov 20 '15 at 19:18
  • @JonW As much as any of the other answers (opinions) in this thread. However, I do handle the business communications for multiple clients so I have experience or background information, at least. – Rob Nov 20 '15 at 19:21

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