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Copywriting Hacks for Emojis You Didn’t Already Know

Advertising & Marketing

Joshua Davidson wrote this article


You are reading a guest blog post by Leanplum.

Copywriting for any medium is challenging, whether it’s an advertisement, landing page or call-to-action. Writers only have a few lines to work with, and the stakes are high. Copywriting for push notifications is no exception. When a user opts in to push notifications, they’re trusting you to only send valuable content — you wouldn’t want to betray that trust.

In the past few years, an unlikely copywriting element has emerged: emojis. Once exclusive to the realms of text messaging and social media, emojis have quickly climbed into the business lexicon.

As we discovered in our latest Mobile Marketing Trends report with partner App Annie, emoji usage in push notifications increased 163 percent in 2016. And it’s for good reason: people respond to emojis.

If you’re eager to join the brands that are mixing emojis into their content, these three hacks are a great place to start.

Tap Into the Heart 💕 With Emojis

Screen Shot 2017-04-17 at 10.13.58 AM

As with all marketing copy, push notification writers must consider both the heart and the mind. While it’s easy enough to convey the logical value of an offer through text, it’s harder to drum up excitement. Even the most expressive and enthusiastic copy can come across as more sales-ey than genuine.

Emojis solve this problem with ease. For one, emojis represent faces 😉 and objects 🎁 that we see in everyday life. These visual associations are quick and intuitive compared to text. In fact, studies have found that the brain recognizes emojis as nonverbal information, making it easier to process them as emotions.

Secondly, emojis bring brands closer to how people actually talk. If you think of it as slang, it’s easy to see why emojis feel inherently more personal and less promotional.

In the above example, the emojis don’t add any new information — but they change the way we read the information. This copy does a better job of reaching the heart than its emoji-free counterpart.

Pick the Right → Emoji for the Job 🏢

Emojis on the whole are effective, but some are more equal than others.

It’s a mistake to think that users want brands to spam emojis en masse. Emojis don’t take the skill out of copywriting — in fact, it takes extra thought to make sure you’re picking the most evocative symbol for what you’re trying to say.

We found that the most effective emojis vary across app verticals. Below are a few popular picks for retail apps.

It makes sense that the money-themed symbols would be the most common. This highlights the money shoppers would save on sales. Other themes include transit and time (limited-time offers!) and devices to shop through (laptops and phones).

Now let’s take a look at the most popular emojis used by dating apps.

Looks like holidays are a central fixation for dating apps! Thanksgiving, Christmas, and fine dining dominate the list, alongside other activity-based symbols like karaoke and reading. These help inspire your date ideas for when you find your next match.

Finally, let’s look at the emojis used in mobile games.

Holidays remain a popular theme, since games often run promotions and events for special occasions. But we also see icons related to rewards, celebrations, and even gambling. All of these emojis make sense in the context of games. Depending on the genre, the ghost icon might even find some use outside of Halloween.

Emojis 👌 Work When Pictures 🖼 Don’t

Images are powerful in nearly all types of content, and with iOS 10’s rich push notifications, marketers can add both pictures and gifs to push messages. It’s great to have that option — but even if a picture tells a thousand words, sometimes less is more.

Canva, a drag-and-drop design app, ran an A/B test comparing images to emojis. The first push notification used a picture with shorter copy, and the second message used longer copy while replacing the image with an emoji. See both below.

Screen Shot 2017-04-17 at 10.14.51 AM

You might expect the more visual message to win, but guess what? The push notification that only included the emoji outperformed its competitor by nine percent.

There’s a time and place for everything — especially in marketing, where the user’s time is a privilege. Sometimes, it’s better to spice up skimmable text-based messages with emojis than to add a large image at the cost of readability. Emojis enable copywriters to add character and voice without taking up too much space.

Looking Ahead 👀 at Where Emojis Are Going 🚀

If emoji usage has grown 163 percent in the past year, they’re probably here to stay. That means apps will have to use these symbols effectively in order to communicate on the same wavelength as their audiences.

These three copywriting hacks will get you started, but there’s plenty more to learn. If your curiosity is piqued, remember to read our full report, Winning App (& ) With Emojis.

About the writer of this guest blog post: Leanplum offers a fully integrated platform to manage all your mobile marketing needs and gives you the tools to personalize everything — in and out of the app. To get started with Messaging, Automation, Personalization, App Editing, A/B Testing, and Analytics, visit

Are you interested in writing a guest blog post for our readers here at the Chop Dawg blog? Email us at!

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