Smile: Emojis Can Improve Your Retention Rate

Your mom uses them. Your grandpa uses them. Your teacher uses them. Everybody loves an emoji, which adds an extra layer of emotion to any text message. So why not also use them to improve your retention?

Rebecca Wojno
July 17 2017

There’s a holiday for every occasion (January 21st is Soup Swap Day, FYI), and only the dedicated celebrate them all, but you may want to partake in today’s festivities. July 17th, otherwise known as Emoji Day is not to be missed.

Emojis are ubiquitous, even if you’re not one of the 2.32 billion smartphone users worldwide. The small digital icons are increasingly used in marketing campaigns from push notifications to email. 92% of people online use emojis, and 30.4% of them use them multiple times per day.

Maybe that’s why Instagram finally allowed users to hashtag emojis, and why Burger King gave their chicken fries digital representation for the product launch (but more on those chicken fries later).

But Why Should Companies Use them in Marketing Campaigns? 

People consume five times as much information now than they did 30 years ago. Our brains process visual data 60,000 times faster than text, which is why emojis are so impactful.

Marketing messages featuring emojis make engagement easier and more enjoyable. Sure, text can get the message across, but as I’m sure you know, humor and sarcasm do not always transfer well over text. Emojis allow for that personal touch in tech, which can oftentimes come across as sterile or harsh. When companies use emojis correctly, it’s as if they’re having a personal conversation with customers, where everyone is speaking the same language.

And unlike many other marketing techniques–such as incorporating slang–emojis transcend age. 62% of people over the age of 35 say that they use emojis frequently, and that number rises as age goes down.  “Every technology on social media is first embraced by the younger generation. But the cultural obsession with visual communication right now transcends generations—my mother uses emojis,” said Christain Brucculeri, the CEO of native advertising platform Snaps.

Marketing professionals can choose from over 2666 emojis when creating campaigns. 2666 different options, creative approaches, and chances to relate to your customers.

Emojis can be used in any kind of customer communication: email subject lines, push notifications, text messages etc. Let’s first consider push notifications. Push notifications can increase 30-day retention by 20%, and that’s without adding emojis. Push notification tool, Push assist, reported that Mobile gaming company, Mobilityware, saw a 9% increase in conversion rates when they included emojis in their call-to-actions. Design website Canva found that emojis boosted their retention rate by around 28%. Even more telling is that the companies that feature a few icons experience an  85% increase in open rates, a link that’s worth exploring.

But does email deliver the same promising results? Spoiler alert: it does. myclever Agency discovered that 56% of brands saw an upturn in open rates when subject lines featured emojis and a higher click-through rate, a clear connection between emojis, engagement, and retention.

 Companies Are Looking into the Emoji Effect 

In 2014, the White House included emojis in a report targeting millennials about debt, education, and healthcare rates, as they knew this format would grab (and keep) millennial’s attention more so than a dry, multiple page document.

And when Burger King’s customers asked the chain to bring back their chicken fries, the fast food brand not only reintroduced them to their menu, but created their own chicken fries emoji keyboard that increased engagement on social media. Burger King listened to their customers, gave them what they wanted, and delivered it all in an entertaining, interactive package.

In a 36-second video campaign, Animal Advocacy group PETA also used icons to raise awareness about animal cruelty in the fashion industry. There’s minimal text, but the message is succinct, easily digestible, and most of all memorable.

Finally, I’d be remiss if I didn’t at least mention Dominos. Customers signed up on the pizza chain’s website allowing them to place orders by tweeting the pizza emoji, which led to a great deal of social engagement and publicity.

Incorporating emojis sparks re engagement and excitement in your existing customers. It’s a chance to show your audience that you’re listening, you understand them, and can provide for their needs and wants.

Some Guidelines 

As with almost anything in life, you can over use emojis.  Below are some guidelines for making the most of each and every character.

  • Make sure the emojis are appropriate for your brand and contribute to a clear message. To search for emojis relevant to your brand, or to find out the meaning of a particular emoji, Emojipedia is the place to go.
  • Places to experiment with emojis: email, video ads, push notifications, social, print, etc. Use them to speak the language of your customers.
  • Try using the icons in e-mails and subject lines for an eye-catching surprise.
  • Avoid using emojis as a complete sentence. The customer shouldn’t have to spend more than 30 seconds deciphering your message. Think more along the lines of Budlight’s 2014 4th of July Campaign, instead of Goldman Sach’s misguided attempt. Less is more.
  • Looking to increase retention? Add push notifications. Want to really increase retention? Add a few emojis. The combination helps users remember the app while increasing their use of it 

It’s a Wrap 

Emojis are great indicators of how customers feel. Everyone knows what a heart or smiley face implies. When customers use emojis, they’re providing useful, explicit data in real time.

Anyone with access to technology can use emojis. They’re fun, entertaining, and user friendly. When utilized properly, they’re effective tools for communicating with customers on their terms. So do your research, experiment, and have fun with it!


Rebecca Wojno

Rebecca is a marketing content writer and copy editor. Aside from writing about the importance of customer retention, she spends her time searching for good Mexican food and watching "Suits" reruns.

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