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Emojis in B2B 😠 or 👍?

Unprofessional. Ridiculous. Rude. These are some of the words people used to use to describe the use of emojis in the workplace. Today, we see emojis all over digital communications – it isn’t just individuals commenting on social media posts or sending ❤️ to friends and family. Now, brands regularly include emojis in communications with customers, be it in email subject lines, tweets, or blogs.

But what about B2B? There is certainly still some reluctance about embracing emojis in the B2B world. Statista concludes that ‘people like emojis at work, but feel unsure at first’, with 72% of those surveyed agreeing with this statement. If you’re sitting at your keyboard, wondering whether to include a 😊 at the end of your email to the CEO, it is very likely to make you feel a little unsure. Context is everything.

Should I use emojis in B2B marketing?
This may seem like a bit of a cop-out, but basically: it depends. Knowing your audience is crucial for effective communication across the board, and it’s no different for emojis. It is perhaps still true that emojis could go down badly with some people, but with digital natives now fully established in decision maker roles in business, there is no need to shy away from emojis, even if you’re communicating higher up the management chain. 

Why use emojis? 
There are a number of benefits in using emojis in B2B digital marketing communications. One of the primary reasons is that it can help to give your brand a personality, thereby making it much more relatable to your customers and prospects. This is important because the B2B world often hides behind ‘it’s business’ as justification for cold, unimaginative styles of communication. This is not good enough in today’s hyper-connected world, and even in the most conventional industries, it’s fully accepted that people buy from people – meaning it is entirely appropriate to humanise your brand. 

But it’s not just about trying to evoke a warm fuzzy feeling about your brand. Emojis can help to provide additional context, improve clarity or demonstrate the intended tone of a communication. This is more commonly required in one-to-one communications, rather than one-to-many digital communications, but in short-form social media, where characters are at a premium, or in a context where simplification would be helpful, using emojis can be a very useful shortcut. 

Another reason to consider using emojis in B2B digital marketing communications, is that it is still relatively uncommon, particularly in email broadcasts. This provides an interesting opportunity to get noticed amongst a sea of unread emails. There are some studies that indicate that including an emoji in your subject line will improve your open or click through rates. While this is yet to be definitively proved, there is something to be said for using emojis to stand out. Have a quick scroll through your mailbox to see how many you can count? 👀

Emoji-ed out – when not to use emojis ❌
There are contexts where emojis just aren’t appropriate. Highly formalised industries and very serious subject matter are good examples of this. When used wrongly, or overused, emojis can have a significant negative impact on your communication. It goes back to point one: know your audience. If it’s a relatively conservative market you are operating in, suddenly flooding your digital communications with emojis may not go down well. Use sparingly to begin with and do test performance where possible. 

It almost goes without saying, but it is very important to be sure about the emojis you use. There are plenty of ‘hidden’ meanings or additional connotations of some emojis – for example emojipedia explains that only 7% of people use the peach emoji as a fruit – the rest use it to communicate a bum, or ‘other non-fruit uses’. 

One final point to consider is around compatibility. New emojis can take a while before they are fully coded across all platforms, leaving you with a disappointing black and white frame, rather than the latest in emoji rendering. 

Isn’t this just a fad? 
Seemingly, no. Unlike txt spk, which was damned as the curse of digital communication when it started to infiltrate into exam papers and children’s homework, emojis are generally positively received. Language is constantly changing, but it evolves in favour of easy communication. The 90s trend of removing vowels to get as much value as possible out of 160 characters in a 10p message has mostly passed thanks to the introduction of smartphones with keyboards. Emojis on the other hand are continuing to grow (there are now 3,019 to choose from) and for the time being, their ease of use and comprehension means they’ll stick around for the foreseeable future.

Need help with your B2B marketing communications? Get in touch with Rachel Arquati to discuss your latest project.

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