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6 Tips to Using Emojis in Your Marketing Campaigns How a smiley-face in the right place can really improve audience engagement.

By Jonathan Long

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Anna Hoychuk | Shutterstock.com

Grab your phone and look at the last few text messages you sent and received. I'm willing to bet there were some emojis used.

They are quickly entering the world of marketing -- email subject lines are now full of emojis, and you can even order from Domino's by simply texting them the pizza emoji.

Soon, it won't just be trendy to use emojis in your marketing -- it will be essential. While I've used them with some success in email marketing campaigns, I wanted to see what tips other business owners had regarding how to effectively use emojis.

I sent out a request via Help a Reporter Out (HARO) and connected with six other business owners to discuss this new marketing tool. Below are six tips to help you use emojis effectively in your marketing campaigns. (Side note: If you aren't using HARO, you are missing out -- as I've mentioned in the past, it's a great free tool to use to help your business score media coverage.)

1. Know which emojis connect with your target audience.

With so many different emojis available, it makes it important that you understand the meaning behind any you plan to use. You don't want to start randomly throwing out emojis without a strategy -- you need to make sure they are aligned with your audience.

"The approach we use is going to be much different than a company targeting millennials in terms of what emojis we use. While we might use a simple smiley face in an email subject line, a business looking to really grab the attention of a younger target market might use more edgy emojis," explains Buzz Burgett of Northwest Mechanical.

Related: Why Pinterest Is Driving Social Engagement (and How You Can Take Advantage)

2. Use emojis to encourage real-time engagement.

Peter Gregory, owner of Sound Tattoo Removal, uses emojis to trigger real-time engagement. "When we are marketing to those looking into the options available for removing a tattoo, we want to encourage an immediate engagement. Using emojis in a clever way helps to quickly draw attention to a call-to-action, amplify that emotional trigger and begin a conversation."

I have found that using emojis in email subject lines drastically increases open rates. More people opening your emails means more people coming into contact with your call-to-action. If they don't open it and click-through right away, the chances of them coming back to it at a later time is slim to none.

3. Avoid creating confusing messages.

"Because emojis are a somewhat new marketing tool, some brands go overboard and flood social media posts and email copy with them. Too many emojis, or the wrong type, can create a confusing message and push back prospective customers rather than pull them in. It's important to use emojis that align with your message," advises Rob Richardson, CEO of Newcastle Training.

This is something I see firsthand almost daily. I subscribe to a large number of email newsletters in multiple industries, and using a couple emojis that make sense within the email copy is fine, but going overboard can really be awkward. I cringe when I see emails with an obnoxious number of winky-face emojis.

Related: Use Social Media to Make Your Brand Stand Out

4. Use emojis to add a personal element to your marketing.

Emojis can help a brand add a personal element to its marketing, but remember that every situation is different. What works for one brand isn't going to necessarily work for another, even within the same industry. The emojis you use must match your brand -- a natural extension of your voice.

John Morgan, Co-CEO of Stillwater Dwellings, has some advice for those wanting to add a little personalization "Before you start to use emojis in an effort to be more personal, you need the answer to these five questions:

  1. "What emojis are relevant to our brand?
  2. "Do we fully understand the meaning of the emojis we plan on using?
  3. "How often should we use emojis?
  4. "How does our target audience interact online?
  5. "Will using emojis improve the message we are attempting to convey?"

5. Encourage two-way communication.

Social media is the first stop when a consumer has a customer service need. Using emojis can help communication -- something as simple as a smiley-face emoji can help to break the ice and encourage conversation.

"Whether they have a simple pre-sale question or want to talk about a previous purchase, social media is where consumers turn. Why? Because it's convenient. Social media is easy to access using a mobile phone, without having to make a phone call. Incorporating emojis in your social media communication can help cold prospects warm up faster. Emojis are a new universal language that you need to learn how to use, as they can really help communication," explains Melissa Blake of Les Saisons.

Related: How to Create Share-Worthy Content That's Optimized for Search

6. Understand the correct time and place to use emojis.

Sean Flynn of Flynn & Associates stresses that it's important to understand there is a time and place to use emojis. "A business, such as a restaurant, can freely use emojis to market, because the experience they are promoting is fun and carefree. A business such as ours is dealing with a more serious service, and emojis aren't going to be appropriate in some situations. Use them correctly, and know when to leave them out of your marketing."

I'd also add that it's important to pay attention to your split-test data. Compare email open rates with emoji-filled subject lines and emoji-free versions. Look at your social media engagement on posts using emojis and those that don't have them. Every audience is different, so dive into all available data to see how your audience responds to their use.

Jonathan Long

Founder, Uber Brands

Jonathan Long is the founder of Uber Brands, a brand-development agency focusing on ecommerce.

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