How to Best Use Emojis in Your Marketing

Did you know there’s a simple ingredient for increasing your brand exposure, user engagement, and ad performance? We’ll give you a hint: it could be a burrito, a unicorn, or a smiley.

Emojis are changing the way we communicate online. In fact, the Oxford Dictionaries recently announced the 2015 word of the year, and it isn’t a word at all: it’s an emoji.

What started as a simple smiley face back in the late ‘90s has evolved into thousands of unique symbols. Within the past year alone, usage has more than tripled, and more companies are jumping on the emoji bandwagon.

Why Use Emojis

Using emojis may seem like an unconventional way of drawing attention to your brand, but it works. They sum up a multitude of words in a single image, there’s a vast variety to choose from, and they connect with people on an emotional level.

A Picture’s Worth a Thousand Words. People process visuals 60,000 times faster than plain text. That’s why we have a red light and not a sign that says, “Please come to a complete stop and wait until light turns green before proceeding with caution.”

When people are inundated with “word vomit” via emails, texts, and blogs, they appreciate a sassy emoji for “nail care.”

There’s a Vast Variety. Nowadays there’s an emoji for practically anything (well, except Gingers). The recent iOS 9.1 update added several new emojis including the infamous middle-finger. So depending on your audience’s needs, there’s sure to be an appropriate one right at your fingertips.

iOS 9.1 Update Emojis
Source: The Guardian

They Connect on an Emotional Level. Studies have shown emojis have a psychological impact. They provide a way to express empathy and emotion when you’re unable to communicate face-to-face. Take for instance fans of Taco Bell who express their devotion via the taco emoji.

Taco Emoji
Source: Twitter

So much taco love packed into one tiny emoji. And pizza fans haven’t been left out in the cold either. Domino’s has been allowing its customers to tweet a pizza order using a pizza emoji.

On a more serious note, Durex recently launched a #CondomEmoji campaign designed to coincide with World AIDS Day sure to resonate with consumers and activists alike.

How to Use Them

Emojis are more than just cute cartoon symbols; they’re a powerful marketing tool. They can be used to:

Drive User Engagement. WordStream’s Larry Kim and Mark Irvine recently tested a tweet with an emoji against a tweet without. And the results were positive.

The emoji version had 25.4% higher engagement and a 22.2% lower cost per engagement. Emojis not only increased engagement, they decreased costs, too!

An added bonus: try using emojis to get customer feedback on your marketing strategy.

Improve Click-Through Rates. WordStream also noticed AdWords is allowing emojis in some ad text. Something as simple as a donut emoji catches the eye and improves click-through rates. In fact, the emoji ad was served 10% more than the non-emoji ad, and received four clicks while the non-emoji ad got zero!

WordStream Donut Emoji
Source: WordStream

And Google isn’t the only search engine now recognizing emojis, Bing and Yahoo do, too.

Create Your Own Brand Specific Emoji. Can’t find an emoji to fit your needs? Make your own! When the Pope came to town, Twitter rolled out their own special Pope emoji. And Ikea has also launched their own fun domestic themed emojis to increase their brand exposure.

Word of Caution

It’s easy to get carried away when there are emojis for wine, cheese, and dancing. Some brands are taking emojis too far, like Chevrolet’s all-emoji press release. If your emoji usage is starting to resemble complex hieroglyphics like Chevy, you’re in the danger zone.

Chevy Emoji Press Release
Source: Wired

To avoid an emoji blunder, be sure to consider:

Your Audience. During a recent #sproutchat, a participant pointed out that they would be concerned if their doctor used an emoji but not if their dog walker did. The general consensus is to use common sense. If the audience and context is appropriate, let your emoji spirit fly.

Contextual Relevancy and Placement. Consider contextual relevancy. When talking about food, use a food emoji like a burrito. When talking about a country, perhaps use a flag.

Keep in mind that emojis tend to also fare better in a digital environment, as USA Today found out when they placed an emoji in their print edition.

Device. Unfortunately, not all devices have access to the same emojis. For example, when iOS 9.1 introduced new emojis to Apple devices, only people who upgraded to the new iOS could see or use them. Determine who you’re targeting, then check the emoji availability across their devices.