Emoji Marketing Explained: A Detailed Guide

November 5, 2022 Julio Romero

Reading time about 6min


Emoji Marketing Explained: A Detailed Guide

Winback Team on Sep 11, 2021 11:51:00 AM

Emojis, the Japanese word for picture letters, are tiny images that represent a wide range of emotions, cultures, events, and more. In the year 1999, Shigetaka Kurita developed emojis while working with telecom company NTT Docomo.

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In 2007, the iPhone included an emoji keyboard to target the Japanese audience, and simultaneously, it became popular among Americans. When smartphones became popular after 2010, emojis became a daily norm in chats and social media posts.

On 17th July 2014, Jeremy Burge, also known as the founder of Emojipedia, created World Emoji Day, and the day is celebrated every year since then.

What is Emoji Marketing?

As the name suggests, emoji marketing is nothing but integrating emojis or emoticons in marketing messages. Not only can emojis communicate complex thoughts or emotions with simple pictures, but they can even transcend language barriers.

While the phenomenon was born to communicate and connect, especially with Millennials and Generation Z, it has become equally popular among older generations. It is noteworthy that these visuals trigger personalization, and ads with emojis generate 33 percent higher attention than the usual ads.

When you speak the language spoken by your audiences and use the emojis they use in their personal chats and social posts, it humanizes your brand by adding an extra layer of relatability and personality. It is not only about smiley faces, but you can use these small, visually attractive icons for creating eye-catching posts and headlines. Using an emoji also adds emotion to your brand’s messaging, which a simple text might fail to do.

HubSpot conducted a study to understand the role of emojis in the marketing world using 19,617,281 HubSpot-published posts across LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Google Plus, and Instagram.

The study identifies the following:

๐Ÿ‘(Person Gesturing OK Emoji)

๐Ÿ’(Cherries Emoji)

๐Ÿ (Tropical Fish Emoji)

๐Ÿ’ƒ(Woman Dancing Emoji), and

๐ŸŒค(Sun Behind Small Cloud Emoji)

…as the top five emojis that boost customer engagement.


๐Ÿ™(Octopus Emoji),

๐Ÿด(Horse Face Emoji),

๐Ÿ‘–(Jeans Emoji),

๐Ÿ’(Cherries Emoji), and

๐Ÿš‚(Locomotive Emoji)

…as the top five emojis that encourage click-through rates.

Efficacy of Emojis in Different Marketing Channels

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The average open rate of emails sits between 15 and 25 percent, and the marketers thrive to improve this rate. Emojis are visually pleasing, and subject lines with emojis seek immediate attention and have higher open rates.

The tweets with emojis receive more than 25 percent higher engagement rates than tweets without emojis. Facebook posts with emojis have a 57 percent higher like rate and 33 percent higher comment and share rates. The platform introduced different emoji reactions to promote user engagement, whereas push notifications with emojis reported up to 85% more opens and 9% more conversions than the notifications without emojis.

Research About Your Target Audience

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Before you start using emojis in your marketing messages, you must understand your target audience and analyze how they use and perceive the emojis you intend to use or align with your brand persona. You may leverage social intelligence tools to identify the emojis your target audience is using. Running a mock campaign for a sample audience can also give you a fair idea of how the inclusion of emojis will turn out for you.

Using in Context

As a marketer, you should be mindful of using them only when they have a purpose. While they do make your marketing messages friendly and personal, but the emoji you are using should resonate with your brand, the marketing platform, and the message you are conveying. For instance, Linkedin is used for formal connections and professional reasons, and using heart or kiss emojis on such a platform might not be the best idea.

Using Emojis on Social Media Platforms

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You can get as creative as you want with emojis on these channels to make messaging more interactive and engaging. You can use emojis as a supplement to words and save space on platforms with character limits.

Going beyond including emojis in your social media posts, you can also encourage your followers to interact with you using emojis. It will require little to no work on their behalf and help you boost your overall customer engagement. Further, inviting your followers to answer open-ended questions and comment with an emoji can help you garner additional information to conduct a sentiment analysis of your target audience.

Customer engagement using emojis works best on those social media platforms that are mostly used on tablets or smartphones because of easy access to emojis keyboard.

The Don’ts of Using Emojis

Over-usage of emojis might not appeal to a section of your audience. It might even alienate your existing customer base if you do not do the proper research. Furthermore, a long chain or repetitive use of emojis might make it harder for your audience to understand your messaging.

With around 3,300 emojis on the Unicode Standard List and the need to reach across different age groups and cultures, brands are likely to misinterpret the meaning of certain emojis. For instance, two joined hands indicate prayer to some and high-five to others. Also, the same emoji may emote a different emotion on a different platform as all mobile families, operating systems, and communication channels have distinct display styles for each emoji.

To save from the risk of conveying the wrong sentiment because of an emoji, it is imperative that you only use the popular ones and test their display on different devices before sending. The ones that do not have any double meaning or scope of ambiguity will not confuse the recipients.

The Downside of Using Emojis in SMSes

Using emojis in SMS Marketing can bring down the allowed characters per text from 160 down to 67, which can lead to a reduced impact of SMSes if you arenโ€™t able to write an impactful text copy within the remaining 67 characters.

Thus, using emojis in SMS will leave you with only two options: Either make your messages shorter or spend more on sending additional SMSes.

Emoji Marketing Trends

Letโ€™s have a look at some of the trends related to emoji marketing.

Emoji Domains

Domains with emojis are currently trending. Many popular brands like Budweiser (www.๐Ÿบ๐Ÿบ๐Ÿบ.ws), Hodinkee Watches (www.โŒš.ws), Bobby Brown Cosmetics (www.๐Ÿ’„.ws), and Ray-Ban (www.๐Ÿ•ถ.ws) are following the trend for a fun and innovative way to attract attention.


Another growing trend is producing merchandise, such as clothes, home decor, accessories, and more, with emojis that can resonate and represent your brand.


Just like Facebook uses emojis for getting a reaction on a post, you can invite your audience to rate your service using emojis. For instance, you can allow your clients to choose from a frown face, sad face, smiley face, and laughing face to express their feedback.

The Success Stories

Taco Bell

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Taco Bell went a step further in their marketing strategy by selling their industry and not just themselves. The brand encouraged its social media followers to sign a petition to make Taco emoji available for android and iOS. The petition was a success, and with a whopping thirty-three thousand online signatures, Unicode Consortium created a taco emoji that sits on the official emoji keyboards.

Domino’s Pizza

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The Pizza restaurant ran a campaign where buyers were required to set up a Domino’s account, choose their favorite pizza, and link it to their Twitter account. The ordering process was as simple as tweeting a pizza emoji to get their favorite pizza delivered to their doorstep. It is worth noting that more than 500 pizzas were ordered in a single day in the US using the emoji. The campaign also drove brand awareness.

World Wide Fund For Nature

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For saving endangered animals from extinction, the organization leveraged the emojis to attract their younger audience and created 17 emojis for endangered animals and encouraged users to donate 10p every time they retweeted one.

With an aim to fundraise and raise awareness for endangered animals, WWF’s campaign was a huge success and received 559,000 mentions and 59,000 sign-ups in the first month of its launch. Using a simple and relatable tool like emoji, the campaign succeeded in reaching its target audience to raise awareness and led people to contribute to a cause.


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The beer brand stirred patriotism on American independence day by creating a replica US flag using emojis. The beer brand replaced the stars in the flag with fireworks, the red stripes with USA flag emojis, and the white stripes with beer emojis. The artwork implied that on the 4th July, the United States sums up with fireworks, the flag, and Bud Light. The Twitter post was retweeted more than 120,000 times, boosting their brand awareness and customer engagement.

Key Takeaways

Gone are those days when an emoji was simply a yellow smiley face on social media platforms or personal chat; the little visuals go way beyond that. They can help you boost customer engagement and convey ideas that words might fail to transcend. All you need is to analyze is whether the powerful marketing tool resonates with your messaging and your target audience, and you are good to go.

To read more such articles you can visit our blog. We publish such in-depth articles regularly. Also, if you would like to leverage the power of SMS marketing, check out our cost-effective plans beginning at a mere $59 per month. You have four plans to choose from. Choose one of the plans depending on your needs. With Winbackโ€™s SMS marketing plans, you can recover up to 34% of abandoned carts. Also, you will receive an ROI of up to 35X on every dollar you spend on signing up for Winbackโ€™s plans. Go ahead and sign up today.

Topics: Best Practices, Emoji Marketing