Marketers: ignore emojis at your peril

Emojis have become a language of their own, meaning marketers who don’t use them could be missing out on a new way to communicate.

There are all sorts of fascinating stats on emoji use available on Emojipedia. Numbers from spring 2020 show:

More and more emojis are added to the catalogue every year, and you can now even tweet emojis at Google and receive search results back, not to mention search in emoji on numerous browsers.

In short, emojis are a marketing tool you need to look at using.

Emojis for SEO

Google recognising emojis and offering results when people use them in searches means they’re becoming relevant to SEO.

Emoji use in posts, page descriptions, meta descriptions and Adwords Ads can all help drive SEO alongside quality content. This isn’t to say that you should plaster emojis on everything you produce online, as this could ultimately damage your SEO, especially if Google treats it the way it does keyword stuffing.

Instead, you need to look at emojis that are relevant for your brand. This also means judging whether emojis need to be part of your SEO strategy and whether it’s worth incorporating them if they might have a negative effect on how your brand is viewed – even if they do get you on the first page of search results.

However, a business can also rank for an emoji even if they haven’t used it anywhere on their site due to specific keywords being linked to the description of an emoji, such as pizza restaurants ranking for a search using the pizza emoji.

Symbols on social

The language of emojis is particularly important on social media. They’re used as an alternative to full sentences or words in a bid to save on characters and get a point across quickly – valuable advantages in the social space.

Growth in use of emojis – as shown in the Emojipedia stats above – suggests these symbols have transcended the domain of the younger generation and are now mainstream.

If the language of emojis is becoming universal, it’s something marketers can use to their advantage. But how can you actually use emojis on social media?

First off, you need to be aware of any emojis that have negative, sexual or dual meanings in common use, as using these could detract from the message you are posting. A great way to keep up with emoji meanings is to check them on Emojipedia.

Once you have the right emojis, using them in well-timed posts can help to highlight the human aspect of your business. Use them as reactions or quick responses when a lengthy explanation isn’t needed, or to lend a new dimension to your visual marketing.

Custom emojis

Incorporating custom emojis into your strategy can be a great way to get people talking.

Tim Webber, founder of Fanmoji, told us that custom emojis are being used more for marketing and engagement, but that many marketers are going down this route purely for the millennial angle and haven’t developed a full strategy. The result of this is underwhelming experiences that don’t drive results.

“With the correct audience, and of course quality of product, the success for the right brands can however be huge. The purpose of custom emoji should be to augment conversation, and enhance messaging experiences, so identifying the correct ‘fandoms’ is key. Groups of people or communities that have a shared language are the most relevant consumers, as here custom emojis can provide a great addition to the conversation already happening.

“A brand expecting users to send countless emoji reflecting different ranges of their FMCGs are ultimately going to be disappointed in usage terms, but if they view the whole thing as just a PR exercise then that might not concern them too much,” he said.

Email emojis

Another area where emojis have become a go-to is email marketing. You’ve probably received emails that use them in the subject line, either as part of a sentence or as a representation of what the email is about.

Emojis in emails can be more engaging than simple text email subject lines, with certain emojis actually helping to improve open rates. They provide a visual shortcut, can make emails a bit more human and be used to further highlight your topic, all of which are great options when it comes to getting people engaged with a single line of text.

While A/B testing is the best way to find out what emails resonate with your subscribers, a good rule of thumb is to assess the tone your email is using and ensure your choice of emoji fits with the subject.

You should also consider your audience and whether emoji use is likely to resonate with them. Even if you can’t get away with a smiley face, emojis like symbols and numbers may have a positive effect, so don’t discount these.

When is the right time for emojis?

As with any aspect of marketing, this is totally down to your brand, audience and previous success. There is no perfect guide for using emojis in marketing, but this doesn’t mean you should discount them or fail to venture into the language of emojis. Assessing the impact that emojis could have on your marketing strategy could provide a range of benefits, no matter what sector you’re in.

However, it’s also important to remember that the use of emojis will continue to evolve.  Make sure this part of your marketing strategy is just as reactive as the rest of the tools you use.

If you’re keen to learn more about social media management or any other aspect of content marketing that could benefit your business, Axonn can help.

Updated by Axonn, June 2020