Emojis don’t just express our state of emotions. When used as push emojis, they boost engagement, open and click rates, and conversions for our businesses, among several benefits.

This is the biggest, overarching reason for using push emojis in your digital marketing strategy – they drive business growth.

In this guide, we’ll unbox this biggest reason and show you in detail not only why but also how to best use and not use push emojis in your push marketing campaigns.

What Are Push Emojis?

Push emojis are emojis used in push notifications. They are those images in messages that are put alongside or in place of text.

They are also known as emoticons, which are those representations of human facial expressions formed by a sequence of keyboard characters such as punctuation marks, letters, and numbers.

However, emojis slightly differ in the sense that they are images or pictographs and not necessarily keyboard text characters.

Sample Emojis
Source: Swrve

Still, both emojis and emoticons are encoded in the Unicode Standard, which is the universal character encoding reference for the representation of text.

Another meaning for push emoji is the image itself of a hand pushing something away or to symbolize a rejection of something in general.

Rightwards Pushing Hand on Google Noto Color Emoji 15.0
Google No To Color Emoji

But this is not the only emoji we use when we say how powerfully effective push emojis are for digital marketing. Push emojis can be any emoji that supports what we want to communicate more effectively and is used in push notification messages.

In the example below, the traditionally staid and formal New York Times announced the release of its special comics edition with push emojis that appropriately convey the “all comics” issue:

An example of the strategic use of emojis to announce the release of a special comics edition of The New York Times Magazine
Source: CleverTap

What Are Push Notifications?

Push notifications, particularly web push notifications, are those small, clickable, pop-up messages that nudge users to take some form of action. They are delivered directly to your website visitors’ screens through their web browsers, regardless of the browsers they’re on or the devices they’re using.

Whether your visitors are on your site or not, as long as they’ve allowed your web push notifications, they will always see them on their screens.

Web push notifications are one of four subtypes of the marketing type of push notifications. The other subtypes are desktop, mobile, and wearables push notifications. The other main type of push notifications is the transactional type, which mainly has to do with the users’ account with your business.

Among the four marketing subtypes of push notifications, web push notifications are the easiest to install. You only need a push service like Subscribers to do it for you. The other three (3) subtypes of marketing push notifications will often require a developer to create and install them for you.

In general, push notifications alone already benefit businesses by:

Why Are Push Emojis Effective?

Since emojis express emotions, and since emotions make people feel more connected to a brand, which can mean huge payoffs down the line, then using push emojis can be powerfully effective as a digital marketing strategy.

Whether these customers are still potential or already existing ones, emojis move people in ways that text communication does not.

According to the Unicode Consortium, a nonprofit organization dedicated to standardizing emoticons and emojis across different devices, 92% of people use emojis, and 77% have used them at work in everyday business communications.

According to Adobe’s Future Of Creativity: 2022 US Emoji Trend Report, 79% of emoji users share that emojis help them quickly share ideas, 62% say emojis make team decision-making more efficient, and 58% say emojis boost their creativity.

Seventy-one percent (71%) of them also agree that more inclusive emojis can help spark positive conversations about important cultural and societal issues.

In general, 73% of U.S. emoji users think that people who use emojis are friendlier, funnier, and cooler than those who don’t. Sixty percent (60%) say it even helps their mental health.

Ninety-two percent (92%) say emojis make communication across language barriers easier, with 88% saying they’re more likely to empathize with someone using an emoji.

Fifty-five percent (55%) feel more receptive to new tasks when a request is accompanied by an emoji and 50% share that they’re most likely to respond to a message if it contains emojis.

Emojis have become so effective in moving people that we even recently celebrated World Emoji Day on July 17. This date was chosen because it is the date displayed on the “calendar” emoji, which is extensively used on various platforms. Jeremy Berge, founder of Emojipedia, first established it in 2014.

Calendar Emoji
Source: Emojipedia

The word “emoji” means “pictograph” from the Japanese “e” (picture) and “moji” (letter, character). Its close resemblance to the English words “emotion” and “emoticon” is purely coincidental.

High-Impact Emotional Motivators and Top Emojis

A customer emotions study published by the Harvard Business Review shows that of the hundreds of emotional motivators driving consumer behavior, these are the ten that significantly affected customer value across all the product and service categories studied.

These emotional motivators can be used by brands in their communications and services, inspiring customers to:

  • Stand out from the crowd
  • Have confidence in the future
  • Enjoy a sense of wellbeing
  • Feel a sense of freedom
  • Feel a sense of thrill
  • Feel a sense of belonging
  • Protect the environment
  • Be the person they want to be
  • Feel secure
  • Succeed in life

In short, people are more emotionally motivated when affirmed and encouraged positively.

Not surprisingly, four of the top five emojis featured in Adobe’s Future of Creativity: U.S. Emoji Trend Report also convey this sense of positivity, with the fifth conveying a sense of empathy for a negatively perceived situation.

The top five emojis of U.S. emoji users are the following:

  • Grinning Face with Tears of Joy emoji (also Oxford Dictionaries’ Word Of The Year for 2015)
  • Thumbs Up emoji
  • Red Heart emoji
  • Rolling on the Floor Laughing (ROFL) emoji
  • Crying-faced emoji
U.S. Emoji Users’ Top 5 Favorite Emojis
Source: Adobe

The Adobe report explains, “Humans are hardwired to crave connection, belonging, and community – we want to understand others and be understood ourselves. When we spend so much time behind screens, those desires increase without the in-person markers of tone, facial expressions, and body language. Emojis help bridge that gap, expressing what text on a screen cannot.”

5 Big Reasons Why You Need To Use Emojis In Push Notifications

Now that we understand better how emotionally powerful emojis can be and how they influence customer brand loyalty, we’ll look at the top five big reasons for using emojis in our marketing push notifications strategy.

Here are why you need to use emojis in your push notifications messages:

1. Push emojis help establish emotional connections to your brand.

two people exchanging messages, communicating effectively

People tend to associate emojis with more informal, personal, and even intimate ways of communicating. Emojis are something used when you trust and feel safe and relaxed with the people you’re sending them to.

So, when used in the right context aligned with your brand, push emojis can be a simple, inexpensive, and quick way of establishing an emotional connection with your website visitors and push notifications subscribers.

Emojis in push notifications can influence user decisions more than facts, simply because 80% of people remember what they see (the push emojis along with the words) and do (the Call to Action/CTA inherent in push notifications).

Although we use a lot of words to communicate, 93% of communication is still nonverbal. So, emojis help take care of this 93%, assuming they are used correctly and in the right contexts.

According to scientists, when a person sees an emoji in a message, that person’s brain lights up and associates the emoji with a human face. This is because the brain recognizes emojis as nonverbal communication and processes them as emotions.

Visuals are also processed 60,000 times faster than text. A Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) research has shown that the human brain can process images in as little as 13 milliseconds, faster than what was conventionally thought to be a 100-millisecond processing time.

One key intention for engaging in push notifications as a digital marketing strategy is to build relationships with customers. Through push notifications, you send subscribers relevant messages that keep your brand top-of-mind and ask them to take some action that keeps them engaged with your brand.

When you add emojis to your push notifications messages, this establishes emotional connections and amplifies the relationship-building potential of your push notifications strategy.

2. Push emojis to personalize marketing.

McKinsey’s Next In Personalization 2021 Report shows that companies that excel in exemplifying customer intimacy generate faster revenue growth rates (40%) than their industry peers. Simply put, the closer businesses get to their customers, the bigger their gains.

Seventy-one percent (71%) of consumers expect businesses to deliver personalized interactions, and 76% get frustrated when this does not happen. The pandemic quarantines and the global pivot to more digital behaviors, and the explosive boost in ecommerce raised the bar for personalization in marketing.

Customers don’t just want personalization these days; they insist on it. Three-quarters of consumers switched to a new product, store, or buying method during the pandemic. Personalization matters more than ever now.

How do push emojis help personalize marketing?

Emojis burst into popularity because of social media. So, when a push notification message contains the right emojis, it can feel more relatable, like a social media post, instead of the marketing and advertising message it really is.

Since emojis add personality and a friendly tone to push notification messages, the messages can feel more like they’re coming from a real person instead of an impersonal business entity. This helps build trust, openness, and, eventually, engagement with the audience for your brand.

Push emojis also help with brand awareness, distinguishing your brand from the rest. They make your marketing communication richer with subtext and cultural references. They help express your brand voice and connect with your audience on a more human and relational level, not on the traditional business and transactional level.

If you do it right, your audience should be seeing your brand almost as a friend they trust and are comfortable with, appreciating the value your brand’s messages and offerings bring to their everyday lives.

Through push notifications, your audience should instantly see what your message, product, or service and offer that solve their pains and problems the most.

Through push emojis, they should feel that your brand cares about them and that you both have an ongoing good and friendly relationship together.

These help increase customer retention and grow your relationship together. The McKinsey report also reveals that those companies leading the way in personalization have better customer outcomes since they focus on customer relationships and the long-term value they deliver. This leads to better upward migration, repurchase and retention, and loyalty among their potential and existing customers.

3. Push Emojis Boost Customer Engagement.

a woman using her phone and using social media

Customer engagement is the way businesses create and nurture a good relationship with their customer base to encourage brand awareness and loyalty.

To date, there are at least 18 metrics for customer engagement:

  1. Active users – the number of active interactions from website users or visitors over a period of time, usually monthly
  2. Bounce rate – the number of visitors to a website who leave immediately/after viewing only one page without engaging with its content or features
  3. Churn rate – the number of customers who stopped using your product over a period of time, usually a month. It’s calculated by dividing the number of customers lost over the month by the number of customers at the beginning of the month and multiplying the result by 100
  4. Click-Through Rate (CTR) – the ratio of the number of people who clicked on a link in your message to the number of people that opened the message
  5. Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO) – the process of increasing the number of website visitors or users to take your desired action that’s tied to your campaign goal
  6. Customer Acquisition Cost (CAC) – the cost incurred in pushing a lead down your sales funnel
  7. Customer Effort Score (CES) – a measure of the ease customers experience in interacting with a brand, based on a rating scale, which helps businesses identify the friction points customers have with their brand
  8. Customer Lifetime Value (CLV) – the net profit contributed to the entire future relationship by a customer or the overall contribution to the company by a customer during the customer’s lifetime
  9. Customer Retention Rate (CRR) – the percentage of customers who return to make a repeat purchase, which is an indicator of loyalty
  10. Customer satisfaction – the measure of how a business’s products and services meet or surpass customers’ expectations, often expressed in terms of the Customer Satisfaction Score (CSAT)
  11. Customer Satisfaction Score (CSAT) – a measure of customer satisfaction based on their rating of a business’s product or service and their overall experience with the business
  12. Net promoter score (NPS) – the number of loyal customers who regularly tell others about your brand, product, or service
  13. Open rate – the ratio of the number of opened notifications or emails to the number of notifications or emails sent to subscribers
  14. Pages per session – the number of pages in a website a user clicks through in a single visit
  15. Reaction or response rate – the number of people who respond to a Call-To-Action (CTA)
  16. Retention rate – the percentage of users or customers who continue to use your product over a period of time
  17. Sales – the revenue you generate from the content you produce on your website
  18. Session time – the amount of time a user or visitor spends on a website or app once they’re logged in
  19. Social media mentions – the number of positive and negative social media mentions of your brand, product, or service

Push notifications are used mostly for audiences near the top of the sales funnel to stimulate Awareness, Interest, and Desire. So, the common starter metrics used in measuring how push emojis contribute to customer engagement are open rates, click-through rates (CTRs), reaction rates, and retention rates.

The standard open rate of push notifications is 4.9% on mobile and desktop for all industries. But, emojis in push notifications boost open rates by as much as 20% and CTRs by as much as 124%. This consequently engages more users and increases the success rate of marketing campaigns and engages more users.

Android emoji push notifications have higher open rates (135%) than push notifications without emojis. iOS emoji push notifications are opened 50% more than those without emojis.

Other studies have shown that including emojis in push notifications messages register higher open rates (from 9% to 85%) and retention rates (plus 28%) than messages that only contain text. Push emojis also increase reaction rates by 20%.

An emoji marketing study that involved eight empirical studies reveals that emojis improve online brand communications by strengthening the consumer-brand relationship. This, then, results in what the study calls “favorable downstream consumption consequences,” such as brand attitudes, increased word of mouth, willingness to pay, and purchase behaviors.

3. Push Emojis Boost Conversions

When your website visitor or user performs an action you wanted them to do in response to your Call-To-Action (CTA), you’ve converted them.

Push emojis can have a direct impact on (CTAs) and boost conversions by at least 9%.

One case example is MobilityWare, a mobile gaming company that develops and sells addictive card and casino hits. It wanted to A/B test the impact of emojis in its push notifications messaging campaigns.

So, it conducted the test by sending a message offering players to collect bonus chips. One notification included an emoji; the other did not. The push notification message that contained an emoji resulted in a 9% increase in users who clicked on its CTA.

Another study conducting a similar A/B test on push notifications with and without emojis yielded an increase in CTRs by as much as 70%.

The top three industries that saw significant boosts in conversions by using emojis in their marketing campaigns were business and finance (128% CTR boost), utilities and services (115% CTR boost), and retail (111% CTR boost).

On the other hand, the bottom three industries which experienced negative impacts in using emojis in their marketing campaigns were, interestingly, in industries one would intuitively expect emojis to be welcome: entertainment and events (54% CTR decline), travel and hospitality (12% CTR decline), and health and fitness (4% CTR decline).

These were likely due to the misalignment of the emojis with the industry audiences’ needs. For example, in the healthcare industry, it was found that users responded favorably to emojis that symbolized the completion of a task or workout. However, they responded unfavorably to emojis that suggested staying asleep, aging, and time passing.

This highlights the importance of high-impact emotional motivators and highlights the positive feelings that people want to experience and associate with your brand by using push emojis.

CleverTap analyzed over 11 billion push notifications to find the top 25 emojis that drive the highest CTRs, and here they are below:

Top 25 Emojis That Drive Conversions
Source: Clever Tap

4. Push Emojis and Emoji Marketing Drive Business Growth.

The above four big reasons why you need to use emojis in your push notifications, in particular, and in your marketing strategy in general, lead to this fifth big reason. When done right, push emojis and emoji marketing drive business growth.

When you can instantly connect emotionally with your audience, personalize your communications with them, boost customer engagement, and significantly improve your conversions, it just logically follows that you will most likely see an uptick in your business revenue.

Push emojis can lower Customer Acquisition Costs (CACs), too, if your customer retention rates increase. When you’ve built a good, solid relationship with your subscribers, they’re more likely to become loyal customers.

A new customer can cost five times more than retaining and nurturing an existing customer. The success rate of selling to an existing customer is higher at 60% to 70% than the success rate of selling to a new customer (5% to 20%). Lower costs mean bigger profit margins. Bigger profit margins lead to business growth.

When done right, push emojis and emoji marketing can significantly move business growth over the long term for as long as you continue to deliver value to your audiences.

However, integrating push emojis and emoji marketing into your digital marketing campaigns needs to be done strategically.

Here are the key push notifications best practices to remember in using emojis effectively and in how not to use push emojis at all.

How To Use Push Emojis Effectively

Since push emojis are a visual, non-verbal form of communication, it’s important still to observe the key best practices in effective communication: understand your audience and tailor your message to your audience’s needs, interests, and contexts.

In line with these two key best practices, here are ten more specific ways to use push emojis effectively:

1. Use the right emojis for your audience. As of September 2021, there are already 3,664 emojis in the Unicode Standard. Obviously, not all emojis will be a good fit for your audience. You need to understand who your audience is, what their needs, pain points, interests, personal preferences, and cultural contexts are.

2. Use push emojis with a clear purpose. Do not randomly sprinkle emojis in your push notifications for the sake of having emojis in them. Be strategic in your push emoji use. They should align with your message and your audience’s preferences and contexts. Clarity beats cuteness every time.

3. Use emojis sparingly. Push emojis should be carefully chosen and well-placed in well-timed push notification messages. Push emojis are best used in semiformal communication with people you’ve made sure would be receptive to them.

For example, if your communication with your customers and audiences has always centered around business and nothing else, push emojis would be out of alignment with your tone.

If your brand conveys an image that needs to be taken seriously (such as a research institution or a funeral home), push emojis would likely be out of place.

So, use push emojis carefully and thoughtfully.

4. Understand cultural contexts. Be conscious of how the emojis you use can be perceived and interpreted by your audiences. If you’re not careful, you might be offending them instead of delighting them.

For example, in the West, the horn emoji is commonly understood as a symbol of admiring approval (“You rock!”). However, in countries such as Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, Cuba, Greece, Italy, Portugal, Spain, and Uruguay, the horn emoji can be offensive.

In Italy and other Mediterranean countries, it’s a sign of warding off bad luck and the evil eye. Also, in the countries mentioned above, it has another meaning: it suggests that the person they are directed to has a romantic partner who has cheated on them (“You’ve been cuckolded!”)! Awkward, to say the least.

Horn Emoji
Source: IEmoji

5. Avoid double meanings. Related to cultural contexts, avoid using emojis with potential double meanings for different audiences. Check with Emojipedia first to avoid unintended meanings and embarrassing surprises.

6. If it doesn’t feel natural, don’t use it. Since push emojis have a quick, emotional effect on people, don’t use emojis that don’t feel natural to your brand, tone, and communication style. People can quickly pick up on the contrived intention and be turned off by it.

7. Be consistent in your symbolism. If you use a push emoji to indicate something in one message, it should be the same emoji used to convey the same thing in future messages so you don’t send mixed signals.

This also creates instant recognition for your audience. Take note that the average person’s attention span (8 seconds) is shorter than that of a goldfish (9 seconds).

For example, Evino consistently uses flag emojis of countries where its wines came from as part of its branding.

MoneyStream uses the bell emoji to indicate the closing bell, which is at the end of a trading day at stock exchanges, and how certain stocks fared.

Sample Money Stream Push Notification With Bell Emoji
Source: SailThru

8. Stay relevant. Choose the emojis that match the context of your message. An obvious example is using the snowflake emoji only during wintertime, as it’s more aligned with the seasonal context.

The HAIRtamin example below shows close relevance, using the Halloween pumpkin emoji to reference the upcoming holiday and its Halloween Sale offer. Its text even cleverly plays with the date of the sale and the discount amount, using the number 31.

Sample HAIRtamin Push Notification with Relevant Emoji
Source: NapoleonCat

9. Drive urgency. In SailThru’s recent study of more than 100 million push notifications, push emojis indicating time, such as the clock and hourglass emojis used in time-sensitive messages for flash sales, performed double-digit percentage points higher than other emojis.

10. Have fun and A/B test. Be creative as you get to know your audience better and how they respond. As long as you feel comfortable using them in your push notifications messages to represent your brand, use them. But, also make sure to A/B test your messages first, just to validate your intuitive hunches about which push emojis would resonate best with your audience.

When Should You NOT Use Push Emojis

In terms of not using push emojis in your notifications, the key is to avoid imbalance. Here are the top five Don’ts:

  1. Don’t use push emojis just because everyone else is doing it. The key to the successful use of push emojis in your notifications marketing strategy is a clear understanding of your audience and how best to communicate with them. Always A/B test your messages before sending them out to all users and see which ones best boost your engagement metrics.
  2. Don’t use push emojis with new users. Emojis are more personal, intimate, and casual and are best used with users who already know your brand and whom you’ve developed a comfortably good relationship with. Study new users’ response behavior to your messages first, and craft your push messages for them accordingly.
  3. Don’t use push emojis for every user, subscriber, or customer. On the other end, don’t indiscriminately use push emojis for everyone in your audience. It’s best to segment them first and A/B test your messages for each segment as you understand their response behavior better.
  4. Don’t assume that just using push emojis is enough. Although push emojis can affect quick emotional connections with audiences, using push emojis alone to communicate will obviously not be enough. Clarify your messages further with the supporting text and Calls-To-Action (CTAs).
  5. Don’t overwhelm the user with a lot of push emojis and text squeezed into a single notification. Neither should you lump several push emojis and a lot of text together in one push notification message. Remember people’s 8-second attention span. Give them enough space and time to process your message clearly.


Why do people use emojis instead of words?

Emojis convey feelings faster than words. Using emojis shortcuts wordy language and quickly establishes an emotional connection with the receiver of the message.

What are the disadvantages of using emojis?

If used inappropriately and indiscriminately, emojis can give the impression of lazy and childish communication, be misleading and offensive, and show superficiality and lack of subtlety, which can all turn off their audiences. This is why understanding one’s audience is key in push emoji marketing.

How do you add emojis to your push notifications?

You can add them in the title and the message body of your push notifications. There are several ways to insert emojis in your message, but the easiest is to copy emojis from Emojipedia and paste them into your message.

In Windows 10, press the Windows key and the period button key to show the emoji keyboard where you can pick your emojis from. In Mac, press CTRL + Command + Space bar to show the emoji keyboard to choose your emojis from. Then, copy them and paste them into your message.

Successfully Using Push Emojis

A woman holding a heart engagement symbol

The secret to success in digital marketing using push emojis lies in the following:

  • A clear and insightful understanding of your audience
  • Segmenting them
  • Crafting your push notifications messages that would best resonate with them by A/B testing them before broadcasting them.

In effectively using push emojis in your messages, the key is the strategy and using emojis to support and emphasize your core communication messages to your audience.

Subscribers provide you with daily analytics to better understand your subscribing audience, so you can make educated decisions based on real-time data on how best to communicate with them.

Subscribers also provide you with powerful segmentation tools, so you can create subscriber audience segments, target notifications to specific segments, see which notifications perform best, and optimize your push marketing campaign performance.

Whether you currently have less than 200 subscribers or more than 5,000, Subscribers can help you with successfully using push notifications with emojis in your marketing campaigns.

Get started with a free full-featured trial now.