Emoji are rapidly becoming an integral form part communications. Yes, these little icons have worked their way into the Unicode alphabet that all smartphone use and brands like Chevy, Taco Bell and IKEA are trying to take advantage.

In June, Chevy published a press release written entirely in Emoji. As ridiculous as that may seem, it grabbed headlines in publications like Adweek, Wired, Marketing Mag and Jalopnik. While Chevy’s tactic is extreme there are uses for this pictographic phenomenon that marketers can capitalize on.

Improve conversion rates

If a picture is worth 1,000 words, an Emoji might rank in around 10 good ones. We conducted a split test with Emoji in email subject lines and found that those including the little graphics markedly increased open rates.


The trick is to ensure you are sending messages including Emoji to a mobile audience. Otherwise you end up with nonsense Unicode symbols in people’s inbox. You can do the same on websites and web page titles that are designed and targeted for a mobile audience.


Get your Emoji on smartphones

In addition to using Emoji, forward-thinking companies like Taco Bell, or IKEA, and are also creating their own graphics and working to have them included them in the Unicode language that’s built into every smartphone software.

TACOThere are three tactics marketers are deploying to get us to use their icons:

1. Lobbying the Unicode Consortium. This gets an icon officially loaded into the Unicode alphabet that phones read and you can send in text messages. Taco Bell launched a campaign that received over20,000 signatures on Change.org for the consortium to add a taco Emoji. On June 17, taco fans could officially share their love through the newly added graphic.

2. Building your own apps. IKEA built its own app loaded with icons for everything from the brand’s signature Swedish meatballs to an Allen key—the simple tool used to build the majority of the company’s wares. These types of apps require users to copy and paste the icons into text messages, which can be a more cumbersome user experience.

3. Creating third party partnerships. Lobbying the consortium takes time and evidence of a public benefit, like adding a word to a real language. Alternatively companies are partnering with apps like WhatsApp to load images that can be used similarly as an Emoji but only within that app’s keyboard.

Before decrying the Emoji as a fad, think about this: ‘LOL’ has been used in writing since the 1980s and even baby boomers actively text with emoticons.

About James Rubec

James Rubec is a data geek, a former public relations lead and journalist with a love of content and advocacy. Ask him anything @JamesRRubec and be sure to follow @Cision_Canada

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