How emojis energise push notifications and make them more effective

Push messages with emojis can express things text alone misses the mark on, and that makes them invaluable for mobile marketing

Once derided as ‘smileys’ and proof-positive that the internet had been dumbing us down, emoticons have evolved into emojis, becoming powerful non-verbal expressions that operate on a sophisticated and very human level. 

It turns out we process these tiny pictograms as a form of emotional input. That gives them the power to alter moods and stimulate action. As a tool to boost mobile marketing effectiveness, it also makes them invaluable

According to one study, messages with emojis are retained in memory far longer than those without. Scientists also say emojis cause the brain to ‘light up’ – much the way it does when it encounters a human face. 

In pure marketing terms, they make messages sticky. Emojis in a tweet can increase engagement by 25 percent or more, while emojis in a Facebook post will boost total likes by 55 percent as well as increasing the number of shares and comments. 

If emojis can increase engagement so dramatically, you ought to be using them in mobile marketing campaigns.

At JMango360 we use emojis every day to help mobile app marketers engage their customers and spur them to action.

Looking at the data and drawing on our own experience helping clients use emojis, we’ve considered their impact on every aspect of engagement: opens, conversions, retention – and come to some interesting conclusions.

Why are they so effective?

Emojis are great for conveying the things text and instant messages often miss out: tone, facial expression, emotion, even song. In a face-to-face conversation with a friend or colleague, it’s easy to express humor or sarcasm and have the intent understood. On a smartphone, that’s much harder.

Sending a ? in a push notification is likely to make the receiver smile. It just makes sense that something that makes people feel good has a better chance of incentivizing them to click.

The world’s library of emojis has grown rapidly, with hundreds of new ones added just last year. You can see them being used in every channel from advertising to out-of-home, but particularly on social media – and push notifications in particular.

How emojis have evolved

One look at this real-time tracker on Twitter will show that emoji usage has exploded across social media. On Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and beyond Emojis are used every second of the day on social in astounding numbers.

  • On Twitter, using emojis increases engagement by more than 25%.
  • On Facebook, adding emojis to posts increases likes by more than 55% more likes.
  • On Instagram, half of all comments and captions contain emojis.

A professor of linguistics at Bangor University has called emojis “the fastest growing form of language in history,” while Oxford Dictionaries made an emoji their 2015 Word of the Year!

Emojis in push notifications

A study by LeanPlum suggests that push notifications with emojis see an 85% increase in open rates.

For mobile apps this is a game changer. We already know that push notifications can engage new users, and reactivate existing users who’ve gone quiet. By adding emojis to your push messaging, you could potentially extend your reach by almost double.

Emojis can also increase the effectiveness of calls-to-action (CTA).

Mobile gaming company Mobilityware, set up an A/B test via a push notification in order to better understand the impact of emojis in its messaging campaigns. Players were offered the chance to collect bonus chips. In the test, one notification included an emoji, the other did not.

The notification with an emoji drew 9% more click-throughs.

Emojis can improve engagement in other kinds of messaging as well.

Canva ran an A/B test for its in-app messages that pitted emojis against images. Half the audience received an in-app message with text and an emoji; the other half text and an image.

The text/emoji message beat the text/image version by 9%.

How mobile app marketers can use them

Keep it simple: Emojis enable you to shorten push notifications to make them more impactful and easier/quicker to read.

Think in multiples: Some marketers have had success using several different emojis in a single message. It can work – but make sure the emojis tell a story, don’t overuse them just to be trendy. 

Categorize: Use emojis to categorize the subject at the beginning of the notification. For example, if it’s a sports message about football you could lead with a . If the recipient is a footie fan he/she will be more likely to read the message.

Emoji grammar: Use an emoji in place of punctuation instead of an exclamation mark to add emphasis to your message.

Make urgency visual: Time-sensitive offers, for example, could be promoted using a or emoji.

Adopt your own: Try and find an emoji that’s similar in appearance to your logo or could complement your brand visually.

Remember: Meaning is fluid and you need to keep up

Using emojis out of context might be sending messages you didn’t intend.

As they convey complex emotional content, its vital that you understand their current meanings:

  1. Emojis really gain power when they are relevant to your product, campaign theme, or content. Use them responsibly – e.g. don’t overuse them. You could just be annoying your customers.
  2. From their early beginnings as rudimentary emoticons, emojis have evolved and expanded rapidly. As such, some may have connotations you aren’t aware of. Ensure you research and understand the meanings and usage of emojis before using them.
  3. How people interpret what an emoji is conveying can also change over time. Make sure that you also understand how even the most straightforward emoji’s (smileys, thumbs up signs) are used in different contexts.

Mobile marketers need to experiment with emojis and leverage them in all their messaging, from push to social and beyond. When it comes to engaging with emojis, the ? ‘s the limit.Because you’ve read this far … here’s Herman Melville’s Moby Dick, translated into emoji

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Want to learn more about how emojis can drive engagement and conversions? Do you wonder what’s the best timing or frequency, or which emojis convert the most?

At JMango360 we are experts at driving app marketing results and improving your push messages.

In addition to designing best-in-class e-commerce apps for B2B and B2C brands, we can also provide you with the right app marketing help. 

Our team will fine-tune your app marketing strategy, set-up and execute app marketing campaigns, support with sending out effective push notifications and improve App Store Optimization.

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