Browse The Report
- Nonprofit Email Deliverability & Engagement Benchmarks
- Nonprofit List Sizes
- Ask The Expert: Is List Segmentation Really That Important?
- Nonprofit Email Bounce Rates
- Nonprofit Email Open Rates
- Nonprofit Email Unsubscribe Rates
- Nonprofit Email Click-Through Rates
- Nonprofit Email Fundraising Performance
- Nonprofit Email Performance by Date & Time
- Email Sender Superlatives
- A Data-Driven Approach to Subject Lines & Preview Text
- Convey Positive Emotions in Subject Lines
- Ask the Expert: How Did You Use AI for Subject Line Sentiment Analysis?
- Words to Include (or Avoid) in Your Subject Lines
- Experiment with Emojis in Subject Lines
- Write Compelling Preview Text
- Words to Include (or Avoid) in Your Preview Text
- Put It All Together — Performance Benchmarks & Word Usage
- Creating Effective Emails
- Ask the Expert: What Should I Keep In Mind When Creating Compelling Emails?
- Tip #1 — Include Imagery in Your Emails
- Tip #2 — Pay Attention to Salutations
- Ask The Expert: Do Salutations Really Make a Difference?
- Tip #3 — Use the Word "You"
- Tip #4 — Make Your Message Scannable
- Ask The Expert: How Do I Create a Great Call to Action?
- Tip #5 — Include Great Calls to Action
- Put It All Together - Build Clear, Compelling Emails
- Lessons from the Most Engaging Email of 2022
- Data-Backed Insights for GivingTuesday and Year-End
- Methodology & Appendix
- About Neon One
Experiment with Emojis in Subject Lines
Emojis—small images that can be used in digital text—are popular inclusions in text messages and other communications. But what about subject lines? As more and more emails find their way into your audiences’ inboxes, companies vying for their attention may be able to stand out visually by including these characters in their subject lines. But does it work? Can adding an emoji have a positive impact on your email performance?
Why Is This Important?
Engaging subject lines inspire the best open rates. If you’re experimenting with changing the emotions you convey to your readers, you may be tempted to throw in an emoji to drive that sentiment home. But, if you’re looking to improve your open rates and other email engagement metrics, you might be worried about trying something new—like using an emoji—that would have a negative impact on your performance.
Subject Line Emojis and Email Performance
In the 157.1 million emails sent through Neon One’s systems in 2022,
- 2.7% contained emojis in the subject line
- 24.58% The average open rate for emails whose subject lines contained emojis
- 28.71% The average open rate for emails whose subject lines did not contain emojis
- 3.95% The average click-through rate for emails whose subject lines contained emojis
- 3.27% The average click-through rate for emails whose subject lines did not contain emojis
- $5245.34 The average amount raised by emails whose subject lines contained emojis
- $5710.26 The average amount raised by emails whose subject lines did not contain emojis
What This Means for You
The jury is still out on whether or not emojis are helpful or hurtful. Only a very small percentage of nonprofits sent emails with emojis in their subject lines in 2022, so this is a relatively small sample size.
Open rates for emails with emojis in the subject lines were 4.13% lower than open rates for those without emojis, but click-through rates for those emails were .68% higher. Emails with no emojis in the subject lines raised 8.8% more.
If you’re looking for ways to increase your open rates, try including an emoji in your subject line to catch readers’ attention and inspire them to read your message. Since click-through rates are slightly lower in emails whose subject lines contain emojis, you can mitigate the risk of negatively impacting your own CTR by making your calls to action and any links very clear and easy to click or tap regardless of the kind of device your readers use to read your message.
Since fundraising totals for emoji-less subject lines tend to be higher, you can take a couple of steps if you want to experiment with including them in your own emails. You could first try experimenting with sending non-fundraising emails with emojis to your audience: If you don’t see any negative impact on your open or click-through rates, you can safely assume your readers aren’t bothered by these fun little icons. You might also look into seeing if different segments of donors (like major donors and small-dollar donors, recurring donors and one-time donors, etc.) respond to emojis differently.
Then, you could run an A/B test of a fundraising email with and without an emoji in the subject line. Make sure every other aspect of your email is the same—the only variant should be the inclusion of an emoji—and send tests to a small group of donors. See which one performs best! This will be easiest if you either use UTM codes (links that contain snippets of code to help you track content performance) to track which donations come from which test email. You could also create two identical donation forms and use one for each test.
Your email service provider should include the opportunity to conduct A/B tests with a small group of subscribers, then automatically send the most successful version of your email to the rest of your list. It’s a great way to see if emojis positively or negatively impact your fundraising.