Category: Research

Findings that can guide communication efforts.

Marketers Should Use Emoji With Care

Emojis are finding their way into marketing. Smart marketers can use emoji to increase the impact of messages, but caution is needed. It is important to understand the meaning of emoji – both intended and in practice.

Some can have racist or sexual connotations, others have been adopted as symbols for cultural movements. Marketers need to be aware of what these seemingly innocent images mean and how context fits into that understanding.

Emoji in Marketing

Emoji are increasingly being used in messaging and branding because they have impact. According to a study by WordStream, using an emoji in a Tweet can increase engagement by 25% compared to messages without emoji. Using an emoji in your Facebook posts can increase shares by 33% and interactions with your post by 57%. Similar effect has been documented when emoji are used in email marketing subject lines.

Emoji can help to make a brand relatable, add context to your messaging, and appeal to the emotions of your audience on a deeper level. That is, when the right emoji are used.

Emoji meanings vary, and marketers need to exercise caution with them.

How to Avoid Mistakes

If you use emoji in your marketing, take steps to ensure that you are not unintentionally conveying the wrong meaning.

First, verify the meaning of the emoji. Sites like emojipedia define each one so you can be sure that you are making a proper selection.

Next, do a search to make sure your desired emoji doesn’t have any unwanted meaning in the context you plan to use it. Prepare to be amazed!

Some examples:

  • The rose emoji is tied to anti-authoritarian labor movements going back to the 18th century
  • The frog emoji has been adopted by the alt right in the US
  • Various iterations of ape and monkey emoji have been used in racist contexts

Refresh Your Research Often

Just as language changes over time, so does the visual language of emoji. Meanings change over time and new emoji are added to reflect changes in culture as well.

Marketers need to be aware of these shifts in emoji use to use them effectively and to understand what is being said about their brand. Today, a credible brand voice includes a fluency in the language of emoji.

Best Practices for Link Text

Links are important in online content. They help you connect people with the content they want. They are also an important component of search ranking. There is a strategy to creating the best link text in your content.

Research Identifies These 4 Qualities of Great Link Text

Recent research by Nielsen Norman Group indicates that to get the most clicks, write specific links that set sincere expectations, are substantial enough to stand alone, and are as succinct as possible.

As people scan your site, they look for links to get them to the information you want. Keep these four elements in mind to create links.

  • Specific: Make the link text specific, so the user knows exactly what they’ll get.
  • Sincere: Link text must set expectations that will be instantly met when the user clicks. When links set expectations that aren’t met, the user’s trust in the site and the organization it represents is reduced.
  • Substantial: Most users scan rather than read online. Links draw attention. The link text needs to give the user enough information to decide to click.
  • Succinct: Get to the point as quickly as possible, to increase the likelihood that users will quickly understand the link.

A link’s primary purpose is to communicate to users what they’ll find when they click. Vague or repetitive language fails that purpose. “Learn more” and “Click here” are not effective links.

SEO Considerations for Links

SEO is also a consideration when creating links. Search engines use links as a signal of content quality.

Be sure to create external links to high quality sites that supplement your content. This helps people get to the content they want, and also signals to search engines that your content is part of valuable content within a topic area.

Also create internal links within your website. Links from one page to another help connect your content. They also signal the most important pages at your site. Several links equate to high content value.

Both internal and external links should use keywords as link text. Keywords indicate what the linked content is about. This helps people and search crawlers understand your content focus and expertise.

Three Ways to Find the Right Keywords

Knowing your keywords is the core of ensuring you are visible online. Your content needs to align with the words and phrases being searched today so that people can find you and your services. It is important to find the right keywords for your marketing.

Start with Your Audience

Before you start researching for the right keywords, you need a deep understanding of your target audience. It’s never “everyone” or “all men”. Your target has more characteristics than that. Define them, list them. Understand your customer so well that you can start to visualize what they are doing at this very moment!

Now that you know your target audience, you can research the words and phrases they use when they are looking for what you offer. Here are three ways to do that research.

Use Your People

Listen to what your target audience is talking about, online and offline. What questions are they asking? What are hot topics or trends that have their attention? What words and phrases are they using?

You can gain this intel from face-to-face meetings, phone calls, and social media conversations.  Often you can glean what you need just from listening and reading. Sometimes it helps if you ask a specific question.

You want to use the words and terms they use, ask questions in the way they ask them, etc. Oftentimes, the keywords a business thinks they should rank for or talk about are not the terms their customers actually use.

Google Tools to Find the Right Keywords

Google offers many free tools to help you identify keywords. All are free.

Google TrendsGives you a to-the-minute inside look at Google’s databases of searches. You can look at Google searches by regions, categories, languages, and set the time and search properties (image, etc.). You can look at a single keyword or compare multiple terms. You can determine keywords in your industry or category.

Google Autocomplete: When you start to type in the search field at, the site offers suggested finishes. Autocomplete predictions are populated to reflect actual searches. Therefore, they are possible keywords.

Google Ads Keyword Planner: You need a Google account to use this tool. Enter a keyword and Google will populate search volume (how often it is used) and the competition for that word (how many people or businesses want to rank for that word).

Social Intel

Most social media channels have search and other tools that give you insights into conversations and posts, which provides excellent keyword insight. Pay most attention to the channels you know that your target audience uses.