Last update: May 2021

3 mins to read - 2019/05/01

Boost Customer Engagement With These Emoji Hacks

Are you looking for a quick, easy way to give your mobile notifications that extra oomph they need to get noticed? If you already have great content, deep links, and other rich features, grab your users’ attention with these key emoji hacks. Emojis have been a key element of human language since 2011, when Apple standardized keyboard winky faces… 😉 and so on… to become the smiling, yellow pictographs we all recognize.

Emojis are fun, and they can make your brand come off as relatable, especially with Millennial and Generation Z “digital natives.” However, there is a right way and a wrong way to use them.

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😄❤️ Emoji Hacks = Emotion Grabbers ❤️😂

Not only are they colorful and eye-grabbing, causing your message to stand out more than if it was just plain text. Emojis, as their name suggests, elicit an emotional reaction. People respond positively to seeing faces, as is proved by the fact that a Twitter account called “Faces in Things” has 662,800 followers.

What’s more, emojis can connote a feeling or subtext that it would be very difficult to convey using just words. For example, the winky face can convey sarcasm (very tricky to get across, as anyone who’s had a text message misinterpreted will understand), or the smiling devil face can convey cheekiness (order that sneaky takeaway! Who will know?).

92% of the world’s online population use emojis, and if you’re not communicating with them in their own terms, you’re missing out on some key opportunities.

✈️ Emojis Are Universal (Almost) 🌍🗺️

Emojis may be associated with smartphones and the digital age, but they actually date back to the nineteenth century. Check out App Institute’s interactive, animated walk through the history of emojis for a comprehensive look at the evolution of keyboard symbols into the colorful smartphone icons we know and love.  Emojis reach across cultures, taking written language full circle, back to when it was a system of hieroglyphics that had to be interpreted based on context.

But context is not always the same from culture to culture, so be careful when using some of the more ambiguous emojis, or you run the risk of alienating users. The yellow smiley face is pretty straightforward no matter what, but especially when you start using some of the hand gesture emojis, you run the risk of double entendres.

For example, the hand gesture making a circle with the thumb and forefinger is known as the “OK” symbol in most western cultures and used to signify approval, or a job well done. However, in France it can signify something being worthless (due to being shaped like a zero), and in some Mediterranean, Middle Eastern, and Hispanic countries it is considered a crude gesture.

Similarly, the “thumbs up” gesture, generally agreed to be a positive one, is considered rude in Greece and the Middle East. And the forefinger and pinky upwards “devil horns” hand gesture, common among heavy metal aficionados in the United States and UK, may be taken as an insult in many Mediterranean and Latin countries, symbolizing a man has been cheated on.

🧕👨‍👨‍👧 Emojis Reflecting Diversity and Brands 🌮🍺

It’s likely, as Apple’s emoji keyboard updates and evolves, that emojis will continue to get more diverse and individualistic, and emoji hacks will continue to evolve. We see this in the introduction of different skintones for human and hand emojis, emojis showing diverse relationships and family setups, as well as emojis with curly hair, turbans, and hijabs.

Brands are exploring the opportunities this could offer them. Taco Bell famously petitioned for the introduction of a taco emoji. And in the future, instead of a generic stein of beer emoji, users might be able to choose from a selection of Heineken, Budweiser, and Guinness emojis.

🎓💡 Using Emoji Hacks To Their Full Potential 🚀😁

As with push notifications as a whole, a little goes a long way. Season your marketing content with just enough emojis to bring out the underlying flavor – not to overpower it.

For example, if you open your spam folder, chances are you’ll see more emojis than actual words in the email subject lines… Like me, most app users have trained themselves to view anything above a certain emoji-text ratio to be poor quality, at best, and trash at worst.

So toe that line carefully. Don’t stuff your notifications with so many emojis that they drown out the actual message. Instead, use emojis as punctuation to emphasize the meaning or emotions that are already there. A good rule of thumb, depending on how long your message is, is use 2 to 3 emojis, max.

All in all, companies have reported that sprinkling emojis throughout their push notifications resulted in an 85% increase in open rate, which carries over into customer retention rate.

And that doesn’t even take into account the really off-the-wall ideas, such as that time in 2015 when Dominos started taking orders via pizza emoji. They earned themselves a bucketload of publicity, as well as the Cannes Titanium Grand Prix for breakthrough idea of the year.

That just goes to show that when it comes to emojis, it pays not to be too serious. Just relax, have fun, and be creative, and soon you’ll be as fluent as the best of them.

Looking for more creative ways for how to use push notifications to their highest potential? Check out these Top 30 Best Practices for Push Notifications in 2020.


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