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Should you use emojis in business marketing?

Should you use emojis in business marketing?

Posted 20th December, 2018 by Aidan

Emojis – they’re the Marmite of the virtual communication world – you either love them or hate them. Those that do love them are thought to send a collective five billion a day on Facebook alone and a World Emoji Day has even been created to give emoji fans another outlet to celebrate what could be called modern day hieroglyphics.

But no matter what your personal feelings are towards emojis, should you be using them in a business setting? Isn’t communicating with customers using smiley faces and thumbs up signs a little unprofessional?

Well, no, actually.

Statistics show that, used in the right contexts and on the right platforms, emojis can be a powerful marketing tool.

Here’s what you need to know:

The stats

If your business doesn’t currently use emojis in its marketing efforts, you may wonder where the value lies. What’s the point in adding doodles to a perfectly formed sentence or paragraph?

Well, research shows that the most popular emojis have a genuine semantic meaning to readers, just like words themselves.

For example, the two women standing side by side with bunny ears has been decoded as meaning sisters, sisters for life, best friends, and years of friendship.

So, when you add emojis to your marketing output, you’re not just doing so for the sake of it – you can actually add meaning to your messages.

Not only that:

Emojis also have an emotional effect on readers, over and above that of even the most powerful words.

Studies have shown that looking at a smiley face online can have a similar emotional effect on a person as looking at a smiling face in real life.

One particular study carried out by the University of Missouri-St Louis found that adding an emoji to a formal email might create a positive expectancy violation by being friendly, emotional, and personal.

The researchers also concluded that even adding four emojis to a formal email didn’t detract from the perceived credibility of that email.

Where should I use emojis in my marketing?

It goes without saying that businesses should use the majority of their emojis on social media sites.

Using emojis in Facebook and Twitter status updates has been shown to make those updates more compelling.

Zazzle Media found that Facebook posts that included an emoji had a 57 per cent higher like rate, a 33 per cent higher comment rate, and a 33 per cent greater share rate than posts without emojis.

WordStream, meanwhile, discovered that its tweets received a threefold increase in engagement when they included an emoji.

When it comes to Instagram the power of emojis multiplies further.

Emojis have been shown to be especially effective in Instagram bios and calls to action.

Business coach Sue B Zimmerman reported that she had grown her retail earnings through Instagram by 40 per cent by adding emojis to her bio and her calls to actions.

A particularly good emoji to use in calls to action is the right-pointing hand emoji.

Emojis can also be a particularly effective tool when used in the comments section of Instagram.

Crush Social believes it has tripled its Instagram engagement by using emojis. Its top tip is to tag users directly next to emojis for maximum effect.

Emojis also have a role to play in apps, especially when it comes to push notifications connected to those apps.

Mobile marketing platform LeanPlum discovered that adding emojis to push notifications increased opens by 85 per cent.

There’s a place for emojis in email marketing, too. Self-proclaimed email marketing evangelist Rene Kulka discovered that open rates for Gmail emails increased by 20 per cent when she included an emoji at the start of the subject line.

Myclever Agency also found that 56 per cent of brands saw an increase in open rates when email subject lines included emojis.

Top tips for using emoticons in marketing

Avoid emoji stuffing: all the benefits of using emojis pale into insignificance if you stuff your marketing with too many.

There’s an exception to the rule, though:

That’s PR stunts. In 2015 car makers Chevrolet released a statement through social media that was written entirely in emojis. Chevy’s aim was to come across as fun and irreverent to their audience, and the campaign was successful in producing 18,132 posts, with most posts being positive towards the stunt. In everyday comms, though, one to four emojis is sufficient to get your point across.

Understand the semantics specific to your audience: before you jump into the deep end of using emojis in your marketing you’ll need to do a little customers research.

A certain group of emojis tend to come out as the most used and most popular on social media sites year on year. These include:

  • the heart
  • the crying with laughter face
  • the face with hearts in the place of its eyes

This doesn’t necessarily mean they’ll be the most popular emojis with your customers, though. Take a bit of time before you implement your emoji strategy to see which specific emojis are popular with your own clients by analysing comments on your social media sites.

Stay relevant: It can be easy to get carried away with emojis in marketing. You just need to make sure you are using as relevant an emoji in your communications as possible.

Which big businesses are embracing emojis in their marketing?

MacDonald’s regularly uses emojis in its marketing efforts. An example is a series of tweets that used emojis to tell stories about how great MacDonald’s food is. This series included a tweet full of repeated red cars and road work signals followed by a crying face, a MacDonald’s logo and a happy face.

Over in the USA, TacoBell created a petition titled The Taco Emoji Needs To Happen in order to get the Unicode Consortium to release a taco emoji. In seven months, the campaign received 33,000 signatures and the consortium approved the release.

TacoBell then went on to use its new emoji in an engagement campaign that asked customers to tweet the taco to TacoBell’s twitter page in response for a surprise photo, gif or sound.

Disney has also jumped on the emoji bandwagon. For the launch of its film Star Wars The Force Awakens, it created a collection of hashtag generated emojis for characters like C3PO and BB8.

Categories: Tips, Blogging, Marketing, Small Businesses

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