The Etiquette of Using Emojis in your Emails

by Victor Green
3 mins read

We all know (and love, or hate) emojis. Everyone has their favorites; from the blonde salsa dancer, to the ominous UFO. Some of us might even reflect on the early days of mainstream internet, when emojis used to be called emoticons. Regardless, it’s hard to undermine the incredible impact that these small emotional icons continue to have on our culture. Their popularity is rising alongside the portable technologies that carry them. Their convenience is easy to understand — a picture says a thousand words, after all, and people are taking advantage of the fact that they could convey a paragraph’s worth of language into a single emoji. This begs the question: should marketers use emojis in their emails? The answer, of course, is yes, as long as it’s done subtly and tastefully.

Emojis are Increasingly Popular

To the dismay of all linguists out there, language is on its way out, and emojis are coming in full-swing. Judging from recent reports, “a great number of marketers and advertisers are jumping on the emoji bandwagon as a means to increase the success rate of not just their mobile endeavors but email, too,” writes Forbes contributor Steven Olenski. According to Email Marketing Daily contributor Jess Nelson, “The use of emojis in mobile and email marketing messages has increased 775% year-over-year” and “triggered email messages containing emojis have jumped more than 7,000% in recent months and emoji use in marketing messages has shown a steady 20% increase month-to-month in 2016.”

Be Mindful of the Situation

The fundamental basis of effective email marketing is a consistent sense of professionalism. Marketers can toy around with experimental expansion techniques so long as they are unquestionably professional throughout. “Before flooding your message with emojis, carefully consider the situation, the person who will receive it and the tone of your business communications. If you are writing to someone on a serious matter, emojis will probably not be appropriate; they can, however, soften a harsh message,” writes Jacqueline Whitmore of Entrepreneur. “For example, if you have to communicate some disappointing news to a colleague, you might use the sad-face emoji to let the person know that you are disappointed too. Restrict yourself from using them if you don’t know the person well or you aren’t sure who will receive your message. If, on the other hand, you are delivering a message on the lighter side and are sure the receiver uses emojis, feel free to use them — once in a while.”

Don’t use Emojis you don’t Understand

There are already so many emojis out there, and it seems as though more of them are being shipped into our devices every day. With the sheer number of options available, it would be unreasonable to expect everyone to know what each of these icons mean. “When in doubt, leave them out. Never use emojis for which you don’t fully understand the meaning. The office is not the place to experiment as you could inadvertently send the wrong message,” offers Whitmore. “The simplest and safest emoji to use is a version of the smiley face; however, it’s best to avoid emojis that could be interpreted as flirtation, anger or romance. Just for fun, research emoji meanings at”

Avoid Using Emojis with a new Client

While emojis are an increasingly convenient replacement for language, we advise that you rely strictly on your words when forming a connection with a new client. According to Whitmore: “It’s not wise to use emojis if you are trying to establish a new relationship with a client or colleague. Use actual words instead. Again, keep it professional. Instead, focus on expressing yourself through well-thought-out emails and text messages that will build a person’s confidence in you.”

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