Everything You Need to Know About Using Emojis in Your Subject Line

Should you be using emojis in your subject line? How can you tell? Get the answers to these questions along with best practices for using emojis in subject lines.

3D emoji images

Emojis are such a common part of our digital lives, that it’s hard to believe there was a day when I used to have to say I’m happy, sad, or angry — with words 😳. 

Today, it’s commonplace in text and social media to simply give a thumbs up 👍 and people understand what I’m saying.


But what’s the impact of using emojis in the subject line of an email? I see it everyday — more and more businesses are using emojis. Just look at these examples from my inbox on Tuesday.

Assortment of emails using emojis

So let’s take a deeper dive into the world of emojis in subject lines.

Should you use emojis in your email subject lines?

We wanted to find out. That’s why we analyzed 1,000 emails from 100 of today’s top marketers. The result: 6.9% of subject lines included emojis.

While that’s a small percentage, using emojis could increase your open rates, according to Mark Asquith, (Asquith was also one of the 100 top marketers whose emails we included in our research.)

“A well-placed smiley, timer, or contextual emoji used alongside a well-thought-out subject line will really make your message stand out within someone’s already very busy inbox,” said Mark Asquith, marketing expert and founder of Rebel Base Media, who frequently uses emojis in his own subject lines.

Emoji in subject line

When it comes to your own subject lines, our advice is to test, test, test.

Set up an A/B test of two emails — one that uses an emoji in the subject line, and one that doesn’t — and see which version your subscribers prefer. This can help you optimize your open rates in the future.

Can emojis increase open rates?

The truth is – it depends. I know this isn’t the answer you were looking for. You love those cute smiley faces and wanted to add them all over your subject lines. But it’s true.

When emojis first started appearing in subject lines, they grabbed your attention. But they’re so commonplace today, that they’ve lost their impact. Now that’s not to say an emoji won’t increase your open rate. But, as we mentioned earlier, the only way you’ll know for sure is to test.

Best practices for using emojis

If you are going to use emojis, you should be following a few best practices.

Understand your audience

An important factor in whether or not you should be using emojis is your audience. 

Emojis are not for everyone. Don’t assume because you like emojis, that it will resonate with your customers. 

Keep the emojis relevant

Use emojis that are relevant to your subject line. 

Check out how Paramount+ uses a screaming cat emoji to enhance their subject line talking about which spooky shows you should be watching in October.

Paramount+ email subject line using a scary cat emoji

Personalization Mall is another company that uses a Santa Claus emoji in their subject line for an ornament and stocking sale.

Personalized Mall email subject line using a santa clause emoji

Both are seasonal and relevant to the message.

Never replace words with emojis

Emojis are fun and may draw people’s attention but you should never replace words with these cute little icons. Your subject line needs to clearly communicate what the body of your email is about. Don’t let anything get lost in translation by replacing a word with something not everyone may understand.

Also, not all inboxes will show emojis so the subject line needs to speak for itself without the emoji in case it doesn’t render.

Emoji placement

Add an emoji before or after the subject line that enhances the topic. You should not place an emoji in the middle.

E.g. “🛍  Black Friday shopping starts today!” instead of “Black Friday 🛍  starts today!”

Here’s an email I received from Domino’s Pizza, where they didn’t use one word. You tell me what they’re trying to say here. Did you want me to open this email? Is there a relevant offer for me that you want me to know about? Needless to say, I didn’t order pizza that night.

Domino's Pizza subject line using all emojis

Spacing

Place a space between and your subject line copy. Otherwise you run the risk that the emoji will slightly overlap with the message. 

Our friend Mark Asquith learned that the hard way with this subject line.

Email subject line with emoji overlapping text

Don’t overuse emojis

Unless emojis are part of your brand personality and you know open rates are always higher when you use an emoji, don’t overuse them. 

Oh Domino’s Pizza 

Email subject line from Domino's Pizza using all emojis

How to quickly add emojis to your email subject line

Get your party celebration emoji  🎉  ready because once you find out how easy it is to add emojis to your email subject lines you’re going to pop a bottle of champagne.

Soon you’ll be adding your favorite teeny-tiny hearts 💚, smiley faces 😆, and clapping hands 👏🏽 to your subject lines with a click!

Step 1: 

Open your email draft inside your AWeber account.

Step 2: 

Go to the subject field at the top left of the drag-and-drop editor, and hit the white smiley face inside. (It will turn yellow.) An emoji keyboard will pop up.

Step 3: 

Click on an emoji to insert it into your subject line.

GIF showing how to add emojis to subject line inside AWeber account

That’s it! It’s that simple. You can even copy and paste emojis from the keyboard and insert them into your email copy.

Pro tips for using the emoji keyboard in AWeber

  • The emojis you’ve used most recently will be stored at the top of the window.
  • Scroll through the emoji categories along the top of the keyboard. (Categories: smileys and people, animals and nature, food and drink, activity, travel and places, objects, symbols, and flags.)
  • Use the magnifying glass to easily search for emojis instead of scrolling through them all.
  • Hover your mouse over an emoji to see it larger and read its description.
  • Change the skin tone in the “people” emoji category by clicking on the small dot in the bottom righthand corner of the keyboard. A horizontal bar will appear with different options. Select one to automatically apply it.

Article contributions from Jill Fanslau