Research Shows Emojis Don’t Help Email Opens

Nielsen Norman Group recently did some research about those emoji that are increasingly part of the clutter in all our inboxes. I was surprised to find that the research shows that emojis in subject lines increase negative sentiment toward an email and do not increase the likelihood of an email being opened.

They looked at the negative sentiment elicited by an email, defined as the difference between the average number of negative words and the average number of positive words that participants associated with that email.

In general, people selected more positive reaction words and fewer negative reaction words for the emails without emojis compared to those that had emojis. They found that adding an emoji to an email subject line increases the negative sentiment towards that email by 26%.

Overall, key findings were:

  • Emoji emails were perceived more negatively than no-emoji emails.
  • Emoji emails were seen as less valuable than no-emoji ones, but there was no difference in participants’ perception of trustworthiness for these 2 email types.
  • Emojis attracted attention in a balanced inbox containing both emoji and no-emoji subject lines. On average, emails with emoji subject lines were considered for opening more often than different emails without emoji subject lines.
  • Emojis made people more likely to say they would open that email for its visual qualities rather than for its meaning ones.

To gauge how these findings impact your email marketing, see the complete research results.