The Emotional Power of Emojis: How to Use Emojis in App Push Messages

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Whether you feel smile-emoji-apple or sad-emoji about emojis, they’re a major part of mobile modern life. Those little mobile emojis are a big deal – with Apple recently releasing new and updated emojis, complete with a variety of skin tones, it’s clear that the importance and value of emojis should not be taken at face value.

Are emojis evidence of our declining ability to articulate emotion? Are they a harbinger of humanity’s downfall? Or are they just good ol’ plain fun?

Today we’re taking a look at how brands can use emojis in their push messages for better engagement (we hope it’s a subject that makes you grin).

The Emotional Power of Emojis

Since their humble text emoticon origins, texting smiles and “winkies” have been immensely popular across web and mobile. In fact, according to Swyft Media, six billion emoticons are sent every day (worldwide) through mobile messaging apps.

But why? What makes those little yellow faces so appealing?

Researchers have found that emojis are a powerful tool for humanizing mobile messaging, which can often feel impersonal and expressionless. If you’ve ever misinterpreted the tone of a friend’s SMS message, you know that the mood of mobile messages can be difficult to decipher without the benefit of human expression.

Back in 2008, when text emoticons were beginning to pick up steam, researchers found that typographic representations of facial expressions (such as ;) or :D) had a “positive effect on enjoyment, personal interaction, perceived information richness, and perceived usefulness.”

When we see an online smiley emoji face, it feels like looking at a smiling face in real life. This is huge when you consider how important body language and facial expressions are for communicating and relaying tone.

Why Use Emojis in Push Messages?

Emojis are great for helping users communicate, but what does this mean for app marketers?

It means that implementing emojis into your push messages can help pack a powerful emotional punch - and as we know, some consumer-buying choices are influenced much more by emotion than reason and facts.

With just a simple icon or two, you can grab a user’s attention and inspire an emotional response in your customers. On top of that, emojis can also help your overall push message be more succinct by cutting down on words that can be easily substituted with an emoji.

More and more brands are racing to harness the magical power of emojis. Just recently Domino’s announced that customers are now able to order pizzas, simply by texting them with the pizza emoji.

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Who Should Be Using Emoticons in Push Messages?

The wondrous world of emojis is open to all, but Millennials and Generation Z users are especially good targets for emoji push messages. One report notes that 64% of Millennials regularly communicate using only emojis.

However, with great emojis comes great responsibility – it’s important to understand your audience and use emojis appropriately. The White House made an adventurous move last year by releasing an infographic about Millennials that made heavy use of emojis. Their eager emoji experiment faced some flack though, as some Millennials found the over-emoji use infantilizing.

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For most brands, we recommend using emojis within reason; a few emojis are fine, but a push message packed with them could be considered spammy by some users.

4 Examples of Emojis in Real Push Messages

So what do push messages with emojis look like? Let’s look at some examples from in the wild!

Yahoo Weather!

In this push message below, Yahoo Weather keeps it simple and sweet by giving a snapshot of the weather via emoji.

While some push messages are designed to get users back into an app, that’s not the goal of Yahoo Weather’s push message shown here. Instead, the message is intended to provide instant insight, offering important weather highlights that can be understood at a quick glance.

Here, the use of emojis provides instant understanding while minimizing text space. With a quick glance, users can tell that today will be a sunny day. Users can read the temperatures if they’d like, but the emoji symbols give plenty of info, providing a snapshot of the weather that can be immediately processed by the user without much critical thinking.

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Pink Nation

In our next example, Pink Nation uses a push message with a thrilled woman fist-pumping the air in excitement at the chance to vote on Pink Nation’s next exclusive outfit. Here, the emoji breaks up the text and draws the user’s eye, making it a difficult message to ignore.

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RetaileMeNot

In our next push message, RetailMeNot is using a push message to alert users to a 70% off West Elm markdown clearance. The house emoji is used to grab attention and provides instant understanding, as West Elm sells products related to home furnishings.

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Even if you had never heard of West Elm before, the emoji gives users a hint that this deal is associated with housewares.

GIF Keyboard

In our next example, the app GIF Keyboard is letting users know that GIFs can now be used in Google Hangouts. The emojis used here don’t relate specifically to the message, but instead are simply used to add a nice dose of fun to an otherwise fairly dull push message.

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When To Use Emojis In Push Messages

  • To Provide Instant Understanding. Emojis are extremely useful in mobile push messages when the symbol relates to your message. Ecommerce apps may want to use an emoji purse when messaging users about a handbag deal, or use the  high heel emoji when promoting a shoe flash sale. Travel apps could use a plane emoji when notifying users about flight discounts, and sports apps might consider using emoji flags to show users which teams are facing off against one another. Those are just a few possibilities!
  • To Break Up Text. In web copy, images are often used to break up paragraphs – the same lesson applies to push messages as well. Emojis are a great tool for breaking up chunks of text within push messages.
  • To Draw The Eye. Our eyes naturally are drawn to imagery. Implementing emojis in your push messages makes your messages more difficult for users to ignore.
  • To Be Silly. Some apps like to have a playful relationship with users. Emojis are a great way to add a spice of fun to an otherwise ordinary push message.
  • To Shorten Message Length. Since emojis can provide instant understanding to users, using emojis often allows apps to cut down on the amount of text they use in their push messages. This saves valuable text space and also keeps users happier (no one likes to see a push message on their phone that resembles the start of War and Peace).

Do you have any other clever ideas of how apps might use emojis in their push messages? Share your thoughts in the comments section below!

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