Since their introduction by Apple in 2011, emojis have become a big part of the way we communicate. In fact, 92% of the online population uses emojis in their day-to-day communication.

With 2,823 emojis to choose from and combine how we please, it’s no wonder we love using emojis when words just won’t do. When saying “I love you” isn’t enough, you can tell someone you them. And when you want to show just how excited you are for your upcoming vacation, let people know with .

Emojis are also a useful and fun way to help companies in B2C connect with their audiences, and especially with Millennials and Gen Z-ers, as people between the ages of 25 and 29 are the most avid emoji users. When emojis are used in an email subject line, they can result in a 56% higher open rate than a plain text email.

But what if your email marketing is focused on B2B? It can be risky to use emojis in a formal setting, and in certain situations they could come off as unprofessional. However, emojis can be used successfully in B2B communication if you do your research beforehand. Here are four tips to help you make sure your use of emojis in B2B email marketing is and not .

Know your audience

Usually, the best tool for this is your own judgment. You want to make sure it’s an appropriate time and place to use emojis to enhance your message. For example, if I wanted to send an email announcing a guest speaker, I wouldn’t use an emoji in the subject line: “Jane Smith Announced as 2019 Guest Speaker” is a message that is meant to be polished and direct. However, if I were sending an email about a registration deadline, I might go ahead and have some fun. An emoji could be added to a subject line such as “Time is running out to register for the 2019 Expo !” If you find yourself second-guessing if you should be using an emoji in your email subject line or not, a great way to play it safe is by running an A/B test.

Know the meaning of the emoji

This is extremely important because you never want to inadvertently send the wrong message. A coworker of mine shared a story that shows just how easy this is to do. When her daughter left for college, she posted a photo of her daughter to Facebook with the caption, “Can’t believe my daughter is leaving for college!” followed by what she thought were a few “crying” emojis to show her sadness. Unfortunately, the emoji my coworker had used is called the “face with tears of joy” and is used to express that something is so joyful or funny that it makes you cry. As you can imagine, the emoji sent somewhat of a mixed message. Since this was a personal post that involved family, the result was a few belly laughs . However, a mistake like this on a larger platform and in a professional setting might not be as well received.

It’s also important to know the meaning of your emoji when you are connecting with an international audience, as some emojis have different meanings in different cultures. For example, the “waving hand emoji” ( ) in the USA is a fun way to say “hello.” However, if you live in mainland China, this gesture represents the breaking of a friendship. Nothing like ruining a business partnership by simply trying to say hi.

A great reference to help you check the meaning of your emoji is This website is a wonderful compilation of all the emojis and their true meanings. You simply search for the emoji you are going to use, and the search results display the given name of the emoji as well as the context in which it is intended to be used.

Know how your emoji will display

The same emoji can look very different depending on the platform you areviewing it on. For example, the emoji labeled “t-shirt” appears as a t shirt on most devices but shows up as a polo with a collar on Apple devices: . The color of the shirt varies, as well. On Apple it appears blue , on Google it appears green
, and on Microsoft it’s white and red striped . It even comes down to the software version/update the person has on their device. As I mentioned, the t-shirt appears green on Google , but if you are using an Android 5.0, it will be white , and on the Android 4.3, it appears black . So, if you send a company-wide email using the Apple t-shirt emoji to alert everyone to wear a blue polo for a staff event, it would be no surprise if everyone showed up in multiple types and colors of shirts.

Once again, is a wonderful resource to help with this, as it displays how every emoji will appear on every platform and software update.

Combine emojis with text

The most effective way to use emojis is by combining them with blocks of text. If you are using emojis alone, the message can come off more like a riddle or a puzzle that the reader may not want or be able to figure out. When combined with text, emojis can help condense longer sentences, making them easier to understand. Emojis with text can even reduce the time spent reading a sentence to understand it, so they’re great for grabbing the attention of people who simply glance at their inbox. Emojis paired with text can also help break down language barriers, allowing a message to be understood even if the reader does not speak the language the text is presented in. For example, if I am sending an email trying to get registrations for a conference in Miami in January, I might make my subject line:

“Slepptu kuldanumy og komdu með okkur í Miami.”
For anyone who doesn’t speak Icelandic, this would be very easy to glance over. However, to help deliver the message to a universal audience, adding emojis can be a huge help:

“Slepptu kuldanumy og komdu með okkur í Miami .”
After looking at the second version of the subject line, I’m assuming it will be no surprise when I reveal that the text translates to “Escape the cold and join us in Miami.”

With Apple continuing to add emojis with their updates, soon we will be able to find an emoji for every possible occasion. They can be extremely effective when included in an email subject line to help grab attention, make a message feel personable, connect with younger audiences, break down language barriers, or let you stand out in a crowded inbox. Just make sure you do your research beforehand, so you can be confident the emoji is being used correctly and is successfully communicating the message you are trying to convey. With the proper research and use, those little emojis have the power to take your email marketing to the next level .