The emoji is becoming the fastest growing language across the world. While testing is still in initial stages, there is increasingly more evidence that using these little colourful pictures in your marketing and communications will result in significant increases to your online traffic, which is a great passage to overall business growth.
To better understand this, we must first appreciate the driving nature behind emojis, and just how they are engaged as an evolving language in international society. With this understanding, we can draw on reasoning and method for the use of this little caricature in an array of marketing and communication techniques.
The key to unlocking the benefits of emoji use is to admit, even if it makes you cringe, that this IS a language. In fact, some are calling it THE fastest growing international language. As language is communication, and good business relies on communication, there is probably enough evidence right there to build emoji use into your marketing and communication strategy into the future.
Though what is it that makes emojis such a key growth area? The primary reason, without sounding cliché, is that it really does SPEAK to us. While the science behind emojis is still emerging, there is a building forum of evidence that shows that emoji tells us things that words cannot. Also, in a busy world of limited time and patience, this little picture can sum up a whole story with the strategic click of a button (take for example tennis star Andy Murray, who described his whole wedding day using only emojis).
Context is a key factor in understanding communication, and in an online world where context of words is easily lost, emojis allow us to hit the context nail on the head, all in one little picture. That being said, we must also beware of context in emoji use, there is still a highly varying perception of many emoji or emoticon meanings, as well as technical issues between platforms and providers.
Finally, one of the key, and most interesting recent findings, is that viewing emojis or emoticons can actually impact our mood when we see them. They can activate certain parts of the brain that not only create a change in feelings, but cause us to actually mimic the image we are viewing.
Emotional interaction is a strong form of real communication, and emojis allow us to clearly express our feelings and engage with people in a short and sincere way. With such a focus on communication and real interaction as successful components of business, there are strong lines we can draw between this science and how we then use emojis to create growth.
So how do we bring this background science across into our everyday, targeted communication mechanisms? While testing of emoji use is still in its relative infancy, a good place to begin is an already relatively well-tested subject, being emoji use in email communication. Email subjects are a great example, as they require a short burst of attractive information, enough to force the recipient to choose, open, and then read the content you have sent. So far, a majority of the testing on this topic is telling us to get cracking on emoji use in emails.
There are some key points on emoji use in online communications, being:
- Know your target audience
- Ensure relevance
- Choose well-known icons but be creative
- Understand your voice and tone
- Don’t open the door to misinterpretation
Interestingly, another recent study found that the use of emoji was considered positive and well-accepted for both formal and social emails, however perhaps it is still worth erring on the side of caution with more formal audiences for now.
While on this topic, it is worthwhile considering potential issues relating to mediums such as blog headings, as such use may actually decrease your traffic, due to technical platform confusion.
While it may seem like a no-brainer, the acceptance of emoji use is not as cut and dry as one may believe. Once considered the domain of teenage girls, recent testing has completely blown this idea out of the water, with emoji user demographics actually spread quite evenly, although the female gender still shows higher rates of use. Some tests have even found acceptance rates higher in the over-45 age range.
So if this is the case, then how do we identify the right or wrong audience? Well, we can run our own small initial tests, splitting use and non-use to different recipients. Or we can identify the attractiveness of emoji use as explored above, and weigh the relevance of it in relation to our content. The do-not-bombard rule is still applicable here, remain strategic and understand the meaning of the emoji and the audience that you have identified.
Also, pay high attention to the type of emoji you use, and just how it will be perceived and accepted by different audiences. There is no shortage of emoji perception testing across all demographics to assist you.
An Emerging Emoji Future
As the language of emoji grows, so to does its advance into the wider world of marketing and advertising. The use of emoji in advertising products online continues to expand, probably down to the fact that they are simply effective. Click rates and attention time significantly increase when emojis are in play.
McDonalds, for example, recently undertook a campaign using emojis as their only form of communication. In reverse, Twitter is opening the door to advertisers targeting customers based on the user’s emoji use (think of Dominos targeting Twitter users who often tweet the pizza emoticon). On top of this, it’s key to remember the ‘identifying’ nature of emoji. Google plan to release new emoji that focus on gender equality, portraying women in a variety of roles and situations.
Finally, when considering the idea of a real global market, remember that emoji are a truly becoming an international language. They not only allow us to communicate clearly and efficiently, but open up to interaction with the entire global market. They break down language and cultural barriers, and may well become a transformative feature of expanding your business into a truly global market.