How Emojis in Email Subject Lines Can Boost Engagement in 2023

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Anyone who uses email marketing knows that standing out in an overflowing inbox can be a challenge. After all, the average person gets a whopping 100 to 120 emails per day. That might sound like a lot of reading, but, actually, it’s not. That’s because the average open rate for emails is just over *15%.

One way to combat this and stand out from the crowd is to use emojis in your subject lines because they tend to stand out in lines of text. But how can you implement them properly and make your email open rates pop?

That’s the purpose of this guide, which has everything you need to know about using emojis in email subject lines.

What Are Emojis?

There’s every chance you’ve seen an emoji or two. But other than describing them as “silly smiley yellow faces,” emojis are digital images or icons used to express an idea or emotion. Originating in Japan in the late 1990s, emojis have evolved from simple smiley faces to a vast array of symbols covering various themes and concepts.

They’ve become a universal language, transcending linguistic and cultural barriers. Emojis are pretty popular, too. Over 10 billion are sent daily, whether it’s friends texting each other or businesses using emojis to add a touch of personality. They make communication more engaging and relatable for many.

The Impact of Emojis in Email Subject Lines

Emojis help to make your email subject lines stand out. They grab the recipient’s attention amidst a sea of plain text and convey emotion and tone, adding a human touch to your message. If you’re worried that using emojis in your subject lines will trigger the spam filter, you can rest easy. Studies have shown that emojis can increase open rates by 56% and boost engagement.

Adding a little rocket ship 🚀 or smiley face 😀 to an email often feels more personal and less formal for the person on the receiving end. Moreover, emojis add another dynamic to your brand’s personality while helping overcome language barriers–they make your emails more universally appealing.

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Successful Examples of Emoji Usage in Email Subject Lines

So, now you know what impact emojis can have in subject lines, what do they look like in action? Here’s how some brands successfully implement the best emojis in their emails for maximum effect.

Morning Brew: “Fury Road”

Morning brew
Morning Brew uses the same coffee emoji in all its subject lines for familiarity.

On some occasions, the emoji can still have a powerful impact without actually representing the subject line. Take Morning Brew. It’s a daily email newsletter that exists solely for the purpose of sending emails out and includes everything from stocks to cultural pieces.

Instead of using different emojis to convey the subject line, the coffee emoji is Morning Brew’s brand calling. When the recipients on its email list receive a sea of emails in their inbox, that little cup lets you know right away who it’s coming from. An email that’s instantly synonymous with a brand is an impressive feat if you ask us.

Arsenal FC: “Let’s end our USA tour on a high 👊

Arsenal email subject line
Arsenal use a fist emoji as a sign of togetherness, which aligns with the subject line.

English soccer club Arsenal effectively conveys the emotion of togetherness with one simple fist emoji. This works for several reasons. First of all, the idea of a sporting team is togetherness, with the staff, players, and fans all one, together.

Secondly, Arsenal’s USA tour didn’t go entirely to plan, losing its opening game. This subject line was somewhat of a rallying call, a positive message to say the club was in good spirits and ready for the next challenge. It must have worked, too, because Arsenal finished their tour on a high after a 5-3 win over Barcelona FC.

Uber:  “🌲Camp in style! Hire a car for your adventure 🚗

Uber uses emojis of a tree and car to create a mood around its camping email.

Who says you only need to use one – or the same – emoji in your subject line? Uber wanted to promote its car-hire service by encouraging people to go on a camping trip. And what better way to do it than by keeping things simple with a tree (that’s the camping part) and a car?

Putting one emoji at the start and another at the end of the subject line also helps in regards to the visual design and gives the reader a trail to follow, a bit like when you’re camping or hiking.

Best Practices for Using Emojis in Email Subject Lines

A deep understanding of your audience is absolutely necessary when incorporating emojis into your email subject lines and digital strategy at large. Let’s take a look at some of the best practices for using emojis in email subject lines.

Consider the Meaning

Different emojis can have varying interpretations across cultures. Establish a set of emojis that are appropriate and well-received by your specific target audience. For instance, it’s important to align emojis with your content, which helps maintain relevance and clarity in your messaging.

So, if you’re sending an email about a new music album release, including music-related emojis like a musical note 🎵 or headphones 🎧 is more likely to enhance your message and make it more engaging.

The minute a recipient sees the subject line pop up in their email they know it’s got something to do with music. Misaligned emojis may lead to confusion or misinterpretation, negatively impacting your email’s effectiveness in the process. Therefore, be clear and concise to avoid confusion.


Less is more, especially when it comes to emoji usage. It’s easy to get carried away, but try and keep the number of emojis small and subtle. There’s no arguing that they can add a touch of creativity and personality to emails, but overuse often comes across as unprofessional or overwhelming. Aim to balance between professionalism and creativity.

🚨New deals available🚨” will probably work better than “🚨🚨🚨🚨🚨 New deals available 🚨🚨🚨🚨🚨

Test and Analyze

Always make it a point to test and analyze your emoji usage. With A/B testing on subject lines, you can send two versions of an email displaying different subject lines to see which one performs better. Not only that, but you’ll have the opportunity to monitor important metrics like open rates and click-through rates (CTR).

These rates provide insights into how your audience responds to subject lines. Take this information and make small tweaks for better results in the next email send, be it changing the emoji or perhaps using more or less. Adapt and refine your strategies for optimal results.

Top Tips for Effective Emoji Usage

Choose emojis that emphasize emotions or actions relevant to your message. Using symbols to highlight urgency or importance can create a sense of priority for recipients. Again, an alert symbol (🚨) works well when you’re doing a promotion, while a party emoji (🎉) could represent high energy and a time to celebrate.

Also, look at personalizing your emojis for different segments of your audience to leverage customer data for customization–for instance, send some emails with emojis and other without, using different times of the day to find the sweet spot.

And consider device and platform compatibility to ensure your emojis render correctly across different email clients. For example, iPhone emojis might look different to some Android phone emojis, so bear this in mind.

Potential Challenges and Limitations

While emojis can be effective, they also come with potential challenges. Misinterpretation and cultural sensitivity can be issues – the last thing you want is to offend anyone by accident after sending an email that means different things in different cultures.

Technical limitations can also have an impact, such as rendering issues across different platforms. Accessibility considerations are also important, because not all users may be able to see or understand your emojis. It’s also worth thinking about legal and compliance concerns, especially if you’re operating in a regulated industry.


Emojis can be a powerful addition to your email marketing arsenal. They help grab attention while conveying emotion, and increasing engagement. And you can win with your emojis so long as you understand your audience, align emojis with your content, and test your strategies. Do that, and you’ll have effective emojis in your email subject lines. So why not start experimenting with emojis today? 🤗

Emojis in Subject Lines FAQs

Yes, studies show that emojis can boost open rates because they make subject lines more attention-grabbing and engaging for recipients.
Yes, it’s possible that recipients could misinterpret them, or perhaps an emoji might have the wrong impact because it touches on a cultural sensitivity. Beyond that, there may be technical limitations, accessibility considerations or legal and compliance concerns to consider.
You should understand as much as you can about your audience as part of your broader marketing strategy. Use this to determine their personas and the type of emojis you think will resonate.
It’s best to keep your use of emojis simple and subtle. Overuse of emojis can make your emails appear unprofessional or spammy.
Absolutely. A/B testing subject lines and monitoring metrics can help you adapt your strategies for optimal results.
Written by:

I joined the Website Builder Expert writing team in 2023. With a decade of writing experience, I really love helping brands and small businesses, with a talent for making seemingly dull topics fun and engaging. My aim is to get you feeling confident about marketing your business so it can achieve success.

Having a background in advertising has given me a unique lens through which to view topics. I love turning tricky subjects – like website security certificates and crafting a customer journey map – into easy-to-understand pieces of content that capture attention whether you're reading at home or browsing while out and about.

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