A comprehensive guide to using emojis in your email subject lines

Emojis in Email Subject Lines
Reading Time: 4 minutes

As a startup you are always trying to get people to open your emails, making it of utmost importance for your mails to stand out in your user’s inbox. You have precisely 30 characters, the first 3–4 words that are visible in an email preview on mobile to grab your user’s attention and make them click and read. Businesses have started using emojis in their email subject lines to achieve that exact end. Emojis save on space, convey emotion and stand out distinctly in a sea of black and white of the email inbox, making them a strategy well worth investing your time in.

Benefits of using emojis in subject lines

The biggest motivation for using emojis in subject lines remains the increase in open rates.

“Brands using emoji’s have seen an increase of 45% in their open rates”

top emojis in email subject lines


Apart from the obvious benefit of increased open rates, emoji’s are a great way to convert awkward, clunky subject lines into fun things. They also spend an end to awkward cutoffs on subject lines read on mobile devices, where only 30 to 40 characters are displayed. This brings us to another benefit of using emoji.

“They save on space, a lot of it”

As marketers, you are always trying to grab user attention as soon as possible before they drop off. Emoticons are a great way to achieve that.

Emoticons also convey emotion, the very purpose they were built for. In the crowded inbox real estate, a subject line with an emoji stands out as something realistic, colorful and fun.

A few ways to incorporate emojis in your subject lines

emojis ranked by subject line usage

Your company logo: If your company logo bears a close resemblance to an emoji, adding them to your subject lines can be a good branding tool and will also increase open rates amongst your users.

Convey a story: Emoji’s find widespread used in IM as a way to convey stories. The same has transcended to emoji usage in subject lines as well. Here is an example.

emojis in email subject lines example

A minimal approach to selling tickets to a Vikings football game.

See how the subject line immediately evokes the best sentiments of a football game, the sport, cheer, and celebration. All of this, with just 14 characters and even fewer words.

Replace a commonly used word: Alright, this one is fairly controversial, with a lot of experts advising against it. But a lot of marketing exercises are based on experiments and the resultant metrics change, and this one has mixed results. Thus, I find it legit. Try and replace a common word in your subject line by a suitable emoji to save on space and also make your otherwise drab statement, more fun.

Open with an emoji: The first few words of your subject line are crucial to grab the attention of the reader. So why not open with an emoji and grab your user’s attention immediately, getting them to read the rest of your subject line and opening your mail too.

opening with an emoji in an email subject line

A few things to take care of

Don’t overdo it: Using emoji’s in your subject lines is pretty simple, a 12-year-old could do it. This also makes it very simple for you go overboard with it. Use emoji’s succinctly and only where they are relevant. Too many of them in a single subject line can make your emails seem unprofessional and also trigger spam filters. Using emoji’s where they are not relevant can be pretty detrimental to your open rates, dropping them by a significant percentage and can even lead to unsubscribes.

Email clients support for emojis: emoji support is largely universal, except for outlook 2003. Given it’s an old email client, you should check the percentage of your users who use it before you dress up your mails with emoji. Moreover, the same emoji can appear differently on different platforms. Test it on a few before you go on to use it for one of your subject lines. Some display it as a simple line drawing, while on others it can appear as a full emoji with gradients and colors.

emojis as it appears in different devices

Tell us some of your favourite usages of emojis in subject lines or the ones that you are using for your own. How did they work out for you?