People are changing.

And so are the things that attract their attention.

For marketers, these changing trends are cause for concern as marketing is all about drawing people’s attention.

One trend that is not receiving as much attention in the marketing world as it should and yet is packing a punch is emoji marketing.

No, I don’t mean marketing the emojis themselves but rather using emojis in your marketing strategy.

Let me show you why.

But first…

Emoji History – Re-Birth of an Ancient Language?

Although emoji are trending now, they can actually trace their roots to the very beginning of time.

Think hieroglyphics and cave paintings.

After all emoji, like their ancient predecessors, are simply pictographs – a way of conveying a message clearly, effectively, and easily.

emoji marketing


But the emoji as we know it started its journey in 1881 when a satirical magazine called Puck published four symbols to portray joy, melancholy, indifference, and astonishment.

Although emoji and emoticons (emotion icons) are completely different, the concept of emoticons spurred the evolution of simple symbols into more graphic and detailed pictures that “say” more than symbols can.

That evolution was fully realized in Japan by Shigetaka Kurita in 1999 when working on an internet-based mobile phone platform for a Japanese mobile provider called NTT DoCoMo.

The concept quickly caught on in Japan, but it took another ten years for it to catch on in the Western world.

And no, the word emoji is not derived from the word emoticon. It is derived from 2 Japanese words with the “e” meaning “picture” and “moji” meaning “character.”

But why do these simple graphics have such power over us?

The Power of Emoji

I’m sure you’ve heard of the saying, “A picture is worth a thousand words.”

Well, that’s exactly the reason behind the creation of the first emoji. They were created to allow users to convey as much information as possible on the then much-limited monochrome screens on the phones of the day.

So why are emoji powerful?

1. Elicit the Same Emotions as a Friend

Research has found that pictures elicit stronger emotional responses as compared to plain text.

Used correctly, emojis make you seem like an old friend. They gain you a quick doorway into the hearts of readers and prospects.

This gives content writers and copywriters a new weapon they can use to elicit the desired response from their prospects.

If there is a part of your prospects life marketers need to reach it is their emotions, not their pockets. Being able to close a sale is not good sales. Establishing an emotional connection is.

The reason is simple – an emotionally attached customer translates into recurring sales.

As a marketer, if you don’t want to seem too “salesy,” employ the power of emoticons in your emails, web copy, and all the other media you use.

2. Hip, Trendy, and Easy

When it comes to marketing and sales, one of the biggest waves every marketer must surf is the trend wave.

And emoji are trending now and definitely into the future.

In fact, linguists predict that emoji just might be the language of the future.

emoji language of future

Photo by Francois Gha on Unsplash

The reason for this is that, especially on the web, people’s attention span is growing shorter by the year. People won’t stay on a page that looks complex and makes them exert any brain power. True, it may look like regressing to the days of cave paintings and hieroglyphics, but emoji do make it easier to communicate quickly.

If you want to capitalize on the 8-second attention span of your prospects, you best learn how to communicate in emoji.

3. Emoji – A Universal Language

One of the biggest superpowers that emoji have is that they speak a universal language understood by all.

I kid you not.

In fact, did you know that the Oxford dictionary’s word of the year in 2015 was an emoji?

oxford word of the year 2015

That’s just how powerful emoji are.

They are literally taking over the world. Let me show you the extent of that takeover.

There are approximately 2.53 billion smartphone users in the world. And that number will keep on growing and is expected to continue growing at a fast rate. That means 2.53 billion people currently have an emoji keyboard in their hands. And out of that massive pool, 92 percent use emojis.

In a single day, 900 million messages are sent on messenger – containing nothing but emojis. That’s according to World Emoji Day who also found that half of the messages on Instagram contain an emoji.

In a nutshell, all this data and statistics show that emoji is a language that transcends not only social platforms, but religion, race, and region (geographic).

Used well, it is like a surgeon’s scalpel that allows you to cut through all the noise on the internet and deftly reach your prospect’s heart – and capture it.

And that is why marketers must harness this power and use it to help people make the right decision – buy their product.

4. Drive Engagement

Especially when it comes to social media marketing, engagement is an important keyword.

And emoji are the key to triggering massive engagement.

Driving engagement, especially on social media, is tricky business. To carry out a successful emoji business, three elements are critical in laying the foundation.

Know Your Audience

As cool as emoji are, as a business, you need to understand your customer demographic otherwise you might end up offending some, confusing some, and losing a lot.

Not everyone understands emoji, and even if they do, depending on the nature of your business, emoji may not be appropriate.

Know Your Emoji

Another factor you need to consider when employing emoji to convey your message is the fact that emoji is a language.

And like any other language, you have to understand the proper usage of the words you choose to use.

In other words, know your emoji grammar.

And beyond grammar, know which emoji drive the most engagement.

Know When to Stop

As fun as it may be to use emoji, you need to know the limits.

Avoid overkill at all costs (yes, I’m looking at you, Chevrolet).

Emoji are like spice in the food; they enhance the flavor of the main meal. But put too much spice, and the meal is ruined.

When using emoji, use them sparingly.

Don’t use them to make long sentences.

Although short and succinct ones can be a good idea if your audience speaks fluent emoji. Deadpool is a great example of a brilliantly successful emoji campaign.

5. Give Your Content a Fresh Look

Although this may not be a big deal for you, it’s a big deal for people who read your content. It’s important to keep content fresh and exciting.

And emojis do that pretty well.

Especially if your target audience is millennial or Gen-Z, spicing up your content with emojis can actually help make bland text more vibrant and exciting.

There’s nothing that reduces your on-page dwell time like blocks of text. Apart, from images and videos, emoji really help to break that text up.

Emoji – To Infinity and Beyond

Whether you like them or not, use them or nor, or even understand them or not, emoji are here to stay. As a marketer, this is one simple element of modern life that you need to harness, master, and use in your marketing strategies.