Can Emojis Be a Marketing Asset for Your Company?
By Iris Hearn
World Emoji Day took place on July 17th, which was heavily celebrated on social media by many major brands.
So: We’re looking into our 🔮 for #WorldEmojiDay and will be reading your emoji fortunes for the next 2 hours! Tell us your 3 most recent emojis if you want to know your future ✨ pic.twitter.com/nLa85fU4S3— T-Mobile (@TMobile) July 17, 2019
Celebrating #WorldEmojiDay with the entire 🦁👑 pride:#Mufasa#Simba#Nala#Scar#Timon#Pumbaa#Zazu#Rafiki#HakunaMatata #TheLionKing— The Lion King (@disneylionking) July 17, 2019
when words fail...— U.S. Soccer WNT (@USWNT) July 17, 2019
Some brands even took their celebratory actions further than social media.
For example, food delivery service Postmates announced that in honor of the holiday, users can now search for food using over 1500+ emojis. Its system will now recognize the type of cuisine users are searching for based on the emoji entered in the search bar.
Additionally, Ford took an original approach to the holiday by debuting its own custom pickup truck emoji.
While these activities may seem minor, they truly speak volumes for how much emojis have become intertwined with our everyday communication habits.
Moreover, this demonstrates how much more brands utilize emojis as a marketing tool both to catch user’s attention and appear more relatable and animated to their audience.
The role of emojis in modern-day marketing
In the past few years, we’ve seen emojis pop up more and more in marketing campaigns.
Just looking at my promotions tab in my email inbox. I could easily pick out twelve emails using an emoji somewhere in the subject line or preview text. Here are just a few:
In addition to email, brands are using emojis in other marketing assets like social media posts, live chatbots, and even on website pages — and research suggests it’s helping more than you may think.
A 2018 study found that brands' use of emojis had positive impacts on engagement, improved brand recall, and a friendlier and more competent tone compared to the same assets that did not include emojis.
Research from HubSpot also showed that different emojis can help boost certain actions. For example, the 🙆 emoji was found to increase engagement, while the 🐙 emoji helped boost click-throughs.
Of course, to be successful these factors need to be coupled with captivating content that compels the user to take action.
Are emojis relevant for SEO?
Beyond social media and email, there is evidence that using emojis can actually have SEO benefits as well — in certain scenarios.
Google and Bing have both supported emojis in search results since 2016, but they can be filtered out of results (meaning Google will not show the emoji in your SERP listing) if they're not considered relevant to the searcher's query.
According to Google’s John Mueller, emojis can be omitted in search if they’re considered spammy, misleading, or feel out of place.
However, before you start adding emojis to your page titles and meta descriptions, it’s important to understand how Google interprets emojis in search — because it may not be what you think.
When you perform an emoji-based search on Google or use one on your website, Google does not translate the emoji into its text-equivalent meaning. In other words, searching “🍕” wouldn’t return the same results as “Pizza.” Instead, it will only return results using that specific emoji, as if it's a different word entirely.
So, you wouldn’t be able to gain any additional SEO authority by simply adding emojis into your content. However, when coupled with relevant keywords, emojis can help your listing stand out in search results, as seen in the image below.
While Google has not released any data on emoji-based searches, it’s a safe assumption that the eye-catching nature emojis have in your email inbox can also apply to search results.
By having something that differentiates you from the other search listings, you have a better chance at increasing click-throughs.
Because click-throughs and time on page is a ranking factor, emojis can indirectly have positive effects for SEO if utilized correctly.
Still, this is heavily dependent on how frequently your audience is performing emoji searches.
So, should you be using emojis for SEO? Well, it won’t hurt you! If your industry closely aligns with an existing widely used emoji, brands can definitely experiment with adding it into page titles and monitor results accordingly. (note: Google will remove emojis it doesn’t deem relevant to your listing)
The effectiveness of emojis in marketing has been clearly demonstrated for driving better engagement in both email and social media — but data isn’t yet strong enough for SEO to draw a clear conclusion.
With more brands like Yelp and Postmates offering emoji-based searches, it’s possible that users will become more comfortable with this style and carry it over to Google searches.
Still, with more and more people using emojis in their everyday communication, it’s undeniable that they have a certain power to communicate in ways that words can’t.
Wondering where to begin?