Should You Use Emojis in Email Subject Lines?


In just a few clicks, you can take what looks like a boring ol’ email subject line and transform it into an appealing one by adding email emojis.

The subject line or header of an email is one of the most difficult parts to compose. Marketers will write and rewrite, test and re-test until they believe they’ve cracked the code for what makes a readable, instantly-clickable subject line.

Should you insert emojis into your email subject lines, or are you better off foregoing them?

In this article, we’ll examine both sides of the coin so you can decide where email emojis slot into your next drip email campaign.

The Case for Emojis in Email Subject Lines

Let’s begin by examining how emojis can add a certain flair to your email subject lines.

Email emojis: the case for adding emojis to email subject lines
Source: Giphy

Emojis in email subject lines are popular

According to an article from Campaign Monitor, year after year, the rate of emojis appearing in email and mobile marketing has gone up by 775%.

That’s a ginormous increase!

Emojis are undoubtedly more popular in subject lines than ever before.

All you have to do is log into your email client of choice and look in your socials and promotions tabs. You’ll see countless subject lines that use emojis.

It will eventually reach the point where enough marketers are using emojis in emails that you’ll get left behind if you don’t.

Read also: Emoji Marketing: New Marketing Trend — Make Your Business Memorable

Looks great on mobile and desktop devices

Rather than open the newspaper to learn about what’s going on in the world today, everyone reaches for their smartphones.

A 2021 report from SuperOffice, a CRM provider, found that more than 80% of emails sent today are read on mobile devices as opposed to desktops.

You want to send emails that are mobile-optimized and will look as good on smartphones as they do on large displays.

Email emojis: Looks great on both desktops and mobile
Source: Giphy

Emojis don’t detract from this goal in any way. This does not mean you have to splurge emojis everywhere. Use emojis to dress up your email lines and add a human touch.

Lets you create attention-grabbing email subject lines

The shorter your subject line is, especially when keeping in mind mobile users, the better. This will ensure that nothing gets cut off.

The rule of thumb is not to exceed 60 characters. Emojis in place of words allow you to send the full breadth of your message but without surpassing the character limitation.

Read also: Business Emojis – Are They Professionalism Killers?

Highlights your message

If you see an email in your inbox about Halloween accompanied by a pumpkin or a skull, that tells you pretty quickly what the crux of the email is. You don’t even necessarily have to read the subject line to know what it’ll be about.

When you see a siren emoji in an email subject line, you can glean pretty fast that the company is trying to tell you that this is the last call on a major sale.

The use of emojis presents your message in a quick, to-the-point fashion, which is good. You usually only have seconds to make an impression on a reader with your subject line.

👉Ready to upgrade your customer service game? Uncover the top emojis to use in our extensive guide! 🌟

The Case Against Emojis in Email Subject Lines

The case against email emojis
Source: Hotsigns

Email emojis can be great, but we have to talk about an eye-opening study from the Nielsen Norman Group in 2020 that might put the kibosh on your email emoji aspirations.

Their study involved 13 marketing emails that were then repurposed to exclude emojis.

Nielsen Norman next asked its participants to look at a version of the email and use three words to describe it.

The words were pulled from a provided list. The list included 12 negative words and 18 positive words.

The participants also had to rank how trustworthy they felt an email was on a scale of 1 to 7, with a 1 being the lowest score and a 7 being the highest score.

Half the participants only saw emails with emojis, and the other half only saw emails without emojis.

According to the findings, these words were used the most to describe emails with emojis:

Description Email with Emojis 🙂 😛  Email without Emojis
Straightforward 17.5% 21.5%
Confusing 9.8% 17.3%
Frustrating 10.4% 15.95%
Dull 27.8% 14.25%
Boring 25.2% 19.09%

So this tells us that the participants most ascribed traits like straightforward, confusing, and frustrating to emails without emojis. They also thought that emails with emojis were duller and more boring.

This might come as a bit of a shock to you, considering that you likely always thought that adding emojis to email subject lines was a surefire way to make your emails anything but dull and boring.

There’s more to this Nielsen Norman study. The same participants perceived emails sent without emojis as less valuable than those with emojis.

Emojis didn’t make an email seem more trustworthy, but their presence didn’t detract from the trustworthiness of an email either.


Interestingly, Nielsen Norman also found that an email wasn’t more likely to be opened just because the sender uses an emoji or several.

Now, we should note that this is one study, and thus the sample size is limited to only 50+ participants on either side. A sample size of a little over 100 isn’t large, and it’s hard to say if there’d be any differing opinions had the sample size been bigger.

That said, we wanted to include this study because it offers a lot of sobering insights.

Read also: 12 Emojis You Thought You Knew and Their Actual Meaning

The Verdict – Tread Carefully and Be Realistic

The information in today’s article isn’t designed to encourage or dissuade you from using email emojis.

Rather, we want to present the facts both for and against the use of emojis in email subject lines so you can make an educated decision for your company’s next email campaign.

Emojis do have positive sentiments attached, but not for everyone. Some people view their inclusion in an email subject line as boring or dull.

You know your audience best. If you think they’ll react well to emojis in email subject lines, then feel free to use them, but always sparingly.

If time and evidence prove that your audience doesn’t respond well to emojis in your email subject lines, then reduce or even discontinue their usage.

Be realistic in your outcomes as well. Using emojis alone might not make more people open your emails, so don’t use emojis as a crutch.

Read also: Emoji with Symbols – Dress Up Your Email Marketing Messages


There’s no reason for a marketing firm to eschew emojis in email subject lines, but you do have to know that using smileys and other emotes can reduce some customers’ perception of you.

We hope the information in this guide helps you decide when and where to use emojis in email 😛

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