Emojis May Increase Read Rate; Won’t Automatically Land Your Email in the Spam Folder

May 30, 2017


The use of emojis—those little digital icons representing everything from sushi and sailboats to infinite variations on the smiley face—has become part of everyday life. Yet marketers have been hesitant to incorporate them into email campaigns, due to uncertainty about how their use may be perceived by both mailbox providers and subscribers.

A new research report from Return Path reveals that emojis may in fact be a useful addition to an email marketer’s toolkit.  Emoji Use in Email Subject Lines looks at emoji use in email campaigns around significant holidays and seasons over the course of a year, and compares them against traditional text-only subject lines. According to report findings, subject lines containing emojis actually saw a higher read rate than comparable text-only subject lines in some cases. Emoji use generally had limited impact on inbox placement rate, either positive or negative. Following are some examples:

  • Around Valentine’s Day, email subject lines including the “lips” emoji drove a read rate of 24% and an inbox placement rate of 89%. By comparison, Valentine’s Day promotions with text-only subject lines had a read rate of just 20% and inbox placement of 83%.
  • Father’s Day emails with the “wrench” emoji in the subject line had a read rate of 22% and inbox placement of 96%, compared to read rate and inbox placement rate of 21% and 88% respectively for comparable text-only promotions.

However, not all emojis proved to be so effective. The “clinking champagne glasses” emoji in New Year’s promotions had just a 9% read rate and 38% inbox placement rate, far below the average for traditional text-only New Year’s emails.

While that novelty factor is difficult to quantify in an aggregated research report, anecdotal evidence points to a sharp dropoff in engagement metrics after repeated emoji use.