3 things you need to know about emoji and email marketing

email marketing emoji Aug 15, 2019

One of my favorite memories of my mom is when she sang Enya's "Orinoco Flow" at the top of her lungs. Instead of "sail away," she always belted out "save the whales." She had no idea she was doing it wrong. And I never told her because it never stopped being funny.

These days, our communication fails extend from real life to the Internet, and they're as laughable as they are cringeworthy.  Check out #momtexts on Twitter and @autocorrectfails on Instagram for a taste.

Sometimes, our communication fails arise from a simple misunderstanding (like my mom). And other times, these fails are due to our unfamiliarity with things like technology or slang (like @autocorrectfails and #momtexts).

But the most common reason our communication efforts fail in person and writing is how we say things—our tone. We use our bodies to take up space and gesture and our faces and voices to express emotion. Our bodies, faces, and voices make it easier to set our intended tone when we communicate in person. However, it's difficult to establish our tone in writing because we can't gesture or easily show emotion.

Emoji have become increasingly common in the digital space—in our texts, on social media, and even in our emails. Here's why: Emoji allow us to gesture 👌, express our emotions 🙄, and illustrate what we're talking about 🌮.  

In my newsletter planning class, my students are usually surprised to learn that using emoji in subject lines increases the open rate of emails. Invariably, someone asks: "But isn't it unprofessional to use emoji?"

Spoiler: it's not unprofessional to use emoji in your email marketing. However, there are some things to consider and a few best practices to adopt so you always enjoy communication success. No fails allowed on my watch! 

Let's dive in, shall we?

Emoji have benefits—especially for Realtors

The loveliest thing about real estate is that it's all about relationships. The best Realtors in the business are friendly, approachable, and let their personalities shine.

Outside the formality of contracts, it makes sense for Realtors to adopt an informal writing style. It's more friendly and approachable than a buttoned-up, formal style. And a casual writing style aligns better with mosts real estate brands. 

Today, emoji are an integral part of informal written communication. And if you want to be perceived as more friendly and approachable, using emoji can help.

On World Emoji Day (July 17), Adobe shared the results of its 2019 Emoji Trend Report. The survey of 1000 U.S. emoji users revealed:

  • 81% agreed that emoji users seem friendlier and more approachable
  • When emojis are used at work, the majority of emoji users feel they positively impact likability (78%) and credibility (63%) and make positive news more sincere (74%)

According to NAR's 2019 Home Buyers and Sellers Generational Trend Report, Millennials make up "the largest share of home buyers at 37 percent." And if you're communicating with this generation, you'll likely adopt emoji as part of your communication strategy.

But this generation isn't the only one that uses emoji. I couldn't find any research on the generational breakdown of emoji use, but in my own experience, people of all ages use them. 

However, you don't have to be one of them. I'm offering this information for your consideration. 

Not all emoji are safe for work

Just like slang, emoji can have suggestive subtext or different meanings within groups. For that reason, I think it's important to consider how people use emoji and what they mean. You can consult Emojipedia to find out the meaning and common usage of emoji characters—just like you use Urban Dictionary to find out the purpose and common usage of slang.

For a quick roundup of emoji that you shouldn't use at work, check out this list on Inc. As you'll see, most of these emoji are used to flirt, express frustration, or admit mistakes. And that makes them less than ideal for work.

I recommend using emoji that are popular and that most people know. According to emojitracker, a site that provides real-time visualization of the most popular emoji on Twitter, here are the top five most popular right now:

How to use emoji effectively

Here are some guidelines to consider if you use emoji in your email marketing:

  • Use in moderation. Sometimes a single emoji in the subject line is enough.
  • Use your words. Emoji are not language. Use them to enhance what you're saying.
  • Strive to be clear, not cute.
  • Use emoji like you use punctuation—at the end rather than the beginning of a sentence.
  • Consider the situation, your audience, and the tone of your communication.
  • Use emoji you understand.

Now what?!

When used in moderation, emoji can be an effective way to humanize your digital communication. I think they're especially useful for real estate agents because they can help you appear more friendly and approachable. Besides, they can help you show a little personality and remind people that you're human, not a faceless robot.

What's not to love about that? 😍😍😍



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