The key to getting emails opened? Sarcastic emoji.

May 6, 2016

Love or loathe them, emoji are here to stay. As evidence of this, last year Oxford Dictionaries named an emoji officially called 'face with tears of joy' its ‘Word of the Year’. It’s not technically a word, of course, but Oxford Dictionaries said it “best reflected the ethos, mood, and preoccupations of 2015”.

You might see the B2B marketing world as something of a welcome sanctuary from omnipresent emoji, but new research suggests that they could play a positive role in our email marketing efforts.

Email provider Mailjet found that British people are 63% more likely to open an email with an emoji accompanying the subject line.

In the study, emoji proved particularly effective when used to indicate sarcasm. Mailjet saw open rates rocket by as much as 95% when it accompanied the subject line ‘Do your emails look this good?’ with a crying emoji.

The trick is to drop a tearful emoji into the subject line, it seems, with the top performing emoji ‘the face with tears of joy’ (41% open rate increase) and the loudly crying emoji (39% open rate increase).

On average, Brits are 63% more likely to open an email from a brand if it contains an emoji in the subject line. However, Americans aren’t so easily won over by the Japanese phenomenon. When used on US customers, the open rate from emoji dropped to 43%.

Meanwhile, average open rates actually dipped by 11% among French recipients, indicating the strong cultural differences between European countries.

Maybe sarcasm is a unique part of the British sense of humour? If that’s true, this research shows that it could well be worth tapping into this part of the British psyche.

Sarcasm might seem like an odd tone to adopt, but the study’s author reckons by choosing a contradictory emoji, “marketers can deliver far greater clarity in their intent to help, entertain or relate with their target audience”. If the report’s results are indeed accurate, it might be well worth experimenting with emoji.

Kevin Mason - Director