How to use emojis in email

Make Email Subject Lines ? Pop ? with Emojis ?

An overview of subject line emojis, how to add emoticons to email subject lines in MailChimp, how to check if your subscribers will actually see them, and overall thoughts on if they’re a good idea to use.

As our world is becoming increasingly dominated by mobile devices, many are finding themselves in love with chatting with emojis.

Emoticons have been around forever, but ever since Apple integrated emojis (a specific and very large set of emoticons for people, places, things, and symbols) into their standard iOS software, they’ve become a massive hit.


Naturally, email marketing technology followed shortly behind, and as of February 2015, MailChimp offers full support for emojis in subject lines.

The place of emojis in email marketing is mostly for fun. A little flair goes a long way in expressing a certain relatability and playfulness to an audience.

Ready to dive in head first and pack your subject lines with emoticons?

Don’t! Read on for etiquette tips, a run-down of how emojis show up in various email clients, and a how-to guide to inserting them into your subject lines.

Who Sees Emojis?

You should be aware that browser-support for emojis in email subject lines is not yet fully and flawlessly supported.

Let’s check out some examples.

iPhone Mobile Mail


iPhone support is excellent.

subject line emoticons



Gmail performs well for the popular emoticons, like the ones used in our example. It will not display some of the more obscure emoticons, though, so you’ll want to send yourself a test email to a Gmail account before you send a campaign.

Our test, though, works just fine in Gmail. Here’s how it looks from the inbox:

gmail emoji support

and here’s how it looks while viewing the message:

mailchimp emoji subject line

The Rest

Here’s the full round-up.

  • Apple Desktop Mail: Supported
  • Apple Mobile Mail: Supported
  • Yahoo Web Mail: Hit or Miss
  • Yahoo Mobile Mail: Supported
  • Gmail Web Mail: Hit or Miss
  • Gmail Mobile: Supported

Are Emojis Right For You?

As the above results show, pretty much all recipients viewing your email from their mobile device will see your emojis.

emojis in subject lines

Desktop users may or may not, depending on their browser or email client of choice.

This means it’s likely that not 100% of your audience will see your use of emoticons. In most cases, if the emoji is not supported it will simply not appear –it will be registered as a blank space.

Keeping this in mind, using emojis at the beginning or end of your subject line as a fun accent is a fairly low-risk practice, as anyone that does not see it will never know the difference.


Where you get into trouble is when using an emoji INSIDE your subject line, or using one to replace a word. In these cases, if it does not appear, your subject line’s message will become confusing.

The best way to decide how you should use emoticons in your subject lines is to take a look at your audience in MailChimp.

Navigate to the “Lists” tab, and select “Stats.”

emojis in subject line

Scroll down the page to “Top email clients”

mailchimp top email client

This report will tell you what percentage of your audience has interacted with your emails via a desktop client vs. a mobile client. It even breaks it down to the specific browser or app they use.

Use this information to understand how many of your subscribers will see your emojis. In general, lists with a high percentage of mobile users are best suited for emoticons.

How to Insert Subject Line Emojis (MailChimp)

emojis email marketing

MailChimp is our email marketing service of choice, so that’s what we’ll be using in this example.

First, launch a new campaign. When you have reached the Campaign Info page, look to the Subject Line input box.

Clicking the smiley face on the right side of that input box will open the emojis available to insert. Just click one to add it to your subject line.

mailchimp emojis

That’s really all there is to it!

At this point in time, most email subscribers are receptive to an emoji in a subject line.

Be careful, though, as general digital technology etiquette states that using more than one, maybe two, in a subject line will likely annoy a big portion of your audience.

Pick an emoji that’s connected to your subject line. Throw in some flames to announce a “HOT SALE,” or an upward-trending line graph emoticon when distributing a quarterly revenue report. Using the emojis as a little extra touch here and there is a nice way to personalize your messages.

As always, the best thing you can do is learn from your audience. Run a few A/B tests with emojis in your subject line to observe how your subscribers respond to it. Start slow, keep tabs on the impact they’re making, and expand from there.

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