Emojis are a language of their own and have been increasing in use over the last few years, meaning marketers who don't use them could be missing out on a better way to communicate.
This year, around 2.3 trillion mobile messages will be sent that incorporate at least one emoji. Thousands of emojis, if not more, are used across social media every minute - which you can see in real time with emojitracker. In fact, it now seems that emojis are almost a language in themselves.
More and more emojis are added to the catalogue each year and in 2015, the Word of the Year was actually the 'face with tears of joy' emoji. You can now even tweet emojis at Google and receive search results back, not to mention search in emoji on numerous browsers.
In short, emojis are a marketing tool you need to look at using.
Emojis for SEO
With Google recognising emojis and offering results when people use them in searches, it means that they are becoming relevant to SEO, especially when you consider the fact that 92 per cent of the world's population use emojis online.
Emoji use in posts, page descriptions, meta descriptions and Adwords Ads can all help drive SEO alongside quality content. This isn't to say that you should plaster emojis on everything you produce online, as this could ultimately damage your SEO, especially if Google treats it the way it does keyword stuffing.
Instead, you need to look at emojis that are relevant for your brand This also means judging whether emojis need to be part of your SEO strategy and whether it is worth incorporating them if they might have a negative effect on how your brand is viewed - even if they do get you on the first page of search results.
However, a business can also rank for an emoji even if they haven't used it anywhere on their site due to specific keywords being linked to the description of an emoji, such as pizza restaurants ranking for a search using the pizza emoji.
Symbols on social
The language of emojis is particularly evident when it comes to social media. They are used as an alternative to full sentences or words in a bid to save on characters and get a point across quickly. The addition of Facebook's reactions in emoji form, not to mention around half of the comments on Instagram being emojis, has also meant that they are even more important when it comes to social.
Not only does this signal the fact that emojis have a renewed importance when it comes to social media, it means they have transcended the domain of the younger generation and are now mainstream. In fact, 74 per cent of people in the US send around 96 emojis or stickers in online communications every day.
This implies that the language of emojis is universal, something marketers can use to their advantage. But how can you actually use emojis on social media?
First off, you need to be aware of any emojis that have negative, sexual or dual meanings in common use, as using these could detract from the message you are posting. A great way to keep up with emoji meanings is to check them on emojipedia.
Once you have the right emojis, using them in well-timed posts can help to highlight the human aspect of your business. Use them as reactions, quick responses when a lengthy explanation isn't needed or even to create larger imagery, like Bud Light did last year.
You can also incorporate custom emojis into your strategy to get people talking, which is a great option when 59 per cent of users would like to use a branded beer emoji rather than the standard option.
Tim webber from Fanmoji highlights that this option has seen a huge boom in recent months, however, it hasn't always worked as well as it could.
He told us that custom emojis are being used more for marketing and engagement, but that many marketers are going down this route purely for the millennial angle and haven't developed a full strategy. The result of this is underwhelming experiences that don't drive results.
"With the correct audience, and of course quality of product, the success for the right brands can however be huge. The purpose of custom emoji should be to augment conversation, and enhance messaging experiences, so identifying the correct 'fandoms' is key. Groups of people or communities that have a shared language are the most relevant consumers, as here custom emojis can provide a great addition to the conversation already happening.
"A brand expecting users to send countless emoji reflecting different ranges of their FMCGs are ultimately going to be disappointed in usage terms, but if they are view the whole thing as just a PR exercise then that might not concern them too much," he said.
Another area where emojis have become a go-to is email marketing. You've probably received emails that use them in the subject line, either as part of a sentence or as a representation of what the email is about.
Emojis in emails can be more engaging than simple text email subject lines, with certain emojis actually helping to improve open rates. They provide a visual shortcut, can make emails a bit more human and be used to further highlight your topic, all of which are great options when it comes to getting people engaged with a single line of text.
While A/B testing is the best way to find out what emails resonate with your subscribers, a good rule of thumb is to assess the tone your email is using and ensure your choice of emoji fits with the subject.
You should also consider your audience and whether emoji use is likely to resonate with them. Even if you can't get away with a smiley face, emojis like symbols and numbers may have a positive effect, so don't discount these.
When is the right time for emojis?
As with any aspect of marketing, this is totally down to your brand, audience and previous success. There is no perfect guide for using emojis in marketing, but this doesn't mean you should discount them or fail to venture into the language of emojis. Assessing the impact that emojis could have on your marketing strategy could provide a range of benefits, no matter what sector you are in.
However, it is also important to remember that the use of emojis will continue to evolve. As Mr Webber points out, the "key to success will be to see the progression beyond a series of small visual symbols". This means ensuring this part of your marketing strategy is just as reactive as the rest of the tools you use.