Study: inserting an emoji in the subject of an email, a bad idea?


A study of nearly 4 million emails shows a higher rate of unsubscribes and reports when an emoji is used in the title of a campaign.

What is the impact of having an emoji in the title of an email campaign? © Gleb – stock.adobe.com

Indicators of 3.9 million emails analyzed

According to a study conducted by Search Engine Journal on 3.9 million emails sent to a sample of 110,000 subscribers, the presence of emojis in the subject of an emailing campaign results in a higher click-through rate. Student. But the analysis reveals another more negative finding: users unsubscribe more and are more likely to send a spam report when an emoticon is present in the title of an emailing.

The SEJ study was conducted on a total of 17 email campaigns sent over a two-month period, between June and July 2020, with a variety of tests. Its objective: to analyze the reaction of subscribers when receiving an email that has an emoji in its subject line and to measure the impact on the unsubscribe, open and click rates on these campaigns.

Unsubscribe rate

Emojis would draw the reader’s attention more to the subject line in an inbox. The headline is indeed an essential part of the email: it should immediately grab attention and prompt the reader to take action. But according to the study conducted by SEJ, the presence of an emoticon would tend to provoke a negative feeling, which could thus harm the brand and the perception of its authority with its recipient. Emailings sent containing emojis in their subject line thus obtained a higher unsubscribe rate (70.59%).

Report rate (SPAM)

The study also measured the number of reports that were sent as part of this test: 7 out of 10 campaigns with emojis in the subject line generated the most abuse complaints. The monthly newsletter, the title of which was preceded by a newspaper-shaped emoticon, received the most reports. This is a strong indication because it makes it possible to assess the relevance of the content of an emailing to a given target. In the event that too many complaints are filed, an email client can degrade a sender’s reputation.

Click rate and open rate

Emails with an emoji in the subject achieved a higher click-through rate. According to the study, 11 out of 15 campaigns had a higher click-through rate. Another interesting figure from the study: 7 out of 12 campaigns showed a better open rate when the emoji was placed at the end of the object. On this last metric, the study shows less convincing results. If the absence of emojis in the email titles generates a slightly higher open rate (52.94%), the study also emphasizes that the percentage difference was too small to provide a definitive answer.

Note that the study was carried out on 5 types of emails: the daily and monthly newsletter, a merchandising campaign, webinar announcements and sponsored emails. A / B test was performed for most emails, those with an emoji or beginning or end of the title and those that did not understand any.

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