My first ever cell phone– an LG flip phone with the heft and aerodynamic properties of a small cinderblock– was a far cry from the sleek smartphones we use today.

Not only did my cell phone lack the luxuries of social media, ridesharing apps, and basic internet functionality– but it also came without emojis. That’s right, I had to rely on semicolons, brackets, and other punctuation marks to construct my own makeshift smiley faces.

Now, emojis are commonplace– scattered throughout text messages, social media posts, and emails.  In fact, one study reports 92% of the online population uses emojis (source). But, the question we pose today is this: do emojis have a place in the world of B2B marketing? And, should B2B brands and companies use emojis in their business communications? Or, should we leave the use of emojis to the teenagers of the world?

Today, we weigh in on each of these questions and provide a comprehensive look at how B2B marketers can leverage emojis to help them achieve their most important marketing goals. Let’s get into it!

Benefits of Emoji Marketing

If you’ve worked in B2B marketing for any period of time, you know it’s not always easy to predict how your audience will respond to a new campaign or tactic. So, even though emojis are widely used and understood as part of modern human communication, it’s easy to see why the typical B2B marketer might be hesitant to use them.

But, even though emojis don’t necessarily scream professionalism, we ask you to put aside your skepticism and check out the surprising benefits of using emojis as part of your marketing campaigns.

1. Humanize your marketing efforts.

No matter what industry you work in or what companies you sell to, at the end of the day, your prospects and customers are still human. This means, even in a professional setting,  they’re drawn to the same things they gravitate to in their personal lives. In fact, a survey of 1,000 American workers found that 76% of survey participants have used emojis in digital communications in their professional lives (source).

When used appropriately in the workplace, emojis can reinforce a message, provide context, or help dictate the tone of an email. Think about it this way– how many times have you misinterpreted a text message or email and spent the rest of the day wondering what you did wrong? A simple smiley face emoji– as silly as it sounds– can humanize written word and provide any lacking context or emotion.

2. Increase engagement.

In the same way that photos, videos, and gifs are more appealing than plain text, people tend to engage with text containing emojis more often than text without emojis. From a marketing perspective, emojis are an incredibly useful and easy way to increase engagement. Consider these statistics:

  • Emojis in a tweet can increase engagement by 25.4% (source).
  • Emojis in a Facebook post can increase the number of likes by 57% and the number of comments and shares by 33% (source).
  • Americans are 43% more likely to open an email if there is an emoji in the subject line (source).

And these are just some of the statistics we’ve found! There’s no denying it– if used correctly, emojis can take your marketing campaigns to the next level.

3. Cut through the noise.

Most audiences are inundated with content on a daily basis. As a result, it can be difficult for marketers to create content that stands apart from the rest. If you want to avoid getting lost in the shuffle of a crowded inbox or social media feed, try using an emoji every now and then!

The bright imagery of an emoji compared to the stark black and white text draws the viewer in immediately.

4. Elevate your storytelling.

The benefits of brand storytelling are well known in the world of B2B marketing. We often rely on written words, video, and imagery to tell our stories, while emojis aren’t used as frequently. But, that doesn’t mean they shouldn’t be! Think about it this way– a story must be engaging, eye-catching, and must contain a human element the audience can relate to.  As we’ve already discussed, emojis possess and facilitate each of those qualities when leveraged in the right context– so, it’s a natural fit.

Best Practices of Emoji Marketing

When it comes to using emojis in a business setting, we say, there’s a time and a place for everything. When used correctly, emojis can be fun, eye-catching, and engaging. But, used incorrectly, emojis can be inappropriate, off-putting, or even downright offensive. Avoid missing the mark by employing these best practices:

1. Do your research.

As with any form of communication, we all have our own style when it comes to using emojis– and any one emoji may have multiple meanings. To avoid embarrassment, we recommend you do a little internet sleuthing before committing to any particular emoji. If you’re not sure what an emoji means, it’s better to go with one that you know can’t be misinterpreted.

2. Know your audience.

Some audiences respond better to emojis than others. For example, one study found that 68% of millennials are more comfortable expressing their emotions using images such as emojis, gifs, and stickers than through phone conversations, while only 37% of those over the age of 65 agreed (source).

This statistic isn’t meant to discourage the use of emojis. Rather, it’s meant to encourage you to consider which particular emojis you use. For example, an older audience may respond better to a thumbs up emoji than they would to the “100” symbol or flame emoji.

3. Moderation is key.

Just because you can use an emoji in your marketing content doesn’t mean you always should. If you regularly overload your social media posts, emails, and other collateral with emojis, your audience will soon get bored with your new tactic. Instead, use emojis strategically and really make them count!

4. Set guidelines.

When working with the various members of your marketing team to solidify an emoji strategy, be sure to document and distribute the guidelines you settle upon. For example, if there’s a set list of emojis you want your staff to stick to, be sure to outline those clearly. And on the flip side, if there are any emojis you’d like your team to avoid, list those as well. Although this might seem a bit overboard, you’re always better safe than sorry!

5. Test, test, test!

As with any new tactic or strategy, you may not get it right the first time around. But, don’t give up. Try different emojis, different platforms, and even different times of the day. Not only do we recommend testing how and when you use emojis, but we also suggest testing your emoji use across different browsers and mobile devices, too. After all, an iPhone and an Android device will often display the same emoji in two different ways– sometimes conveying completely different emotions.

3 Examples of Successful Emoji Marketing

Before we sign off, we’re going to leave you with three examples of effective emoji use by B2B marketers.

1. Social media.

Social media and emojis are a match made in marketing heaven. Think about it– Social media users expect casual, brief, and personable interactions. Emojis facilitate these types of interactions and also save marketers valuable real estate when it comes to the number of characters they’re able to use.

The two examples below come from ZoomInfo’s own Twitter account. These tweets contain several fairly innocuous emojis– a smiley face, a waving hand, and the applause emojis. In the tweet on the left, the emojis are intended to reinforce the CTA. The Tweet on the right uses emojis to react to a user answer, indicating appreciation. Both tweets garnered significant engagement and the use of emojis undoubtedly drew more attention to them.

emoji marketing

2. Email marketing.

Next up, email marketing! One of the most popular uses of emojis is within email subject lines. Check out all the examples we uncovered in our own personal email inboxes below. My favorite, of course, is the play on words by Abercrombie. It’s clever, cute, and most importantly, in line with the rest of their branding.

b2b emoji marketing

3. Offline channels.

Emoji use isn’t necessarily reserved for digital marketing channels alone– in fact, using an emoji as part of a non-digital marketing campaign can have an even bigger impact because it’s unexpected. Consider the example below from New Relic. The company censored itself by using an emoji. Although their point is still clear, the emoji makes the billboard a little more appropriate and fun.

emoji marketing

Key Considerations About B2B Emoji Marketing

In 2019, corporate marketing is much more relaxed than it once was– but, we still have a long way to go. So, if you work in B2B marketing and still have reservations about using emojis, we say give it a chance.

For more information about making the most of your B2B marketing efforts, contact ZoomInfo today. We are the leading contact database solution and we have the tools you need to reach your target audience faster!

About the author

Ryan Hadfield

Ryan Hadfield is a content marketing director at ZoomInfo, the leading B2B contact data solution.

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