The holiday season is a marketing playground. It’s the time of year where people are feeling more relaxed, which makes it the perfect time of year to be a little playful and mischievous in your marketing. Perhaps you’ve already tried a few new tricks this holiday season, or maybe you’re looking to learn from others examples for next year. Either way, here’s a look at the why and how you can effectively add emojis into your email marketing efforts during the holidays and beyond.

Emojis Are Communication Imps

Ask professionals what they hate most in an email and some might say it’s a “smiley face.”  When pressed on why they’ll usually respond that ? or =) are unprofessional in the workplace. While it might be a tabooed practice for some, the fact is that the expression of emotion does soften communication. It makes it more human.

Smiley faces eventually gave way to emojis, and now we have more expressive emoji varieties along with ones for objects or even trends. The jury was still out on emojis and their place in the workplace – or even in personal conversations. Some users would fill text messages and social media posts with emojis, others would rely on it primarily as a mode of communication after finding it was just more time efficient to throw out a bunch of pictures messages.

That idea, that we’re communicating with picture messages, is one of the key features that humanized and popularized emojis. Just like we were getting back into the art of storytelling and narratives to define ourselves – in keeping with ancient and rich oral traditions whose value we once again recognized – we’re not getting back to the simplest form of communication: pictures.

It’s also more than that. There’s an element of mischievousness in emojis that otherwise has largely been lacking from our more perfected forms of communication. There an undeniable element of playfulness in the emoji choices, especially in how just a couple of pictures paired together can take a story and emit a feeling that words alone can’t capture.

For the emoji-averse, there’s another development. The newest adaptation of email marketing is to elevate the use of emoticons beyond conversation and use it in subject lines as a way to be more engaging and piggy-back off of the personalized effect emoticons offer. Using emoticons does another thing: it catches the eye. By catching reader attention you’ve just upped the chances that they’re going to pay more attention to your email campaigns.

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Cos Play Your Subject Line

There’s the saying that familiarity breeds contempt. The same can hold true for your email subscribers. They might not feel contempt exactly, but they are most certainly very bored. Seeing the same message from the same person, week after week, especially when nothing else has really changed, are, to be honest, quite boring.

So how do you change it up? Take inspiration from the holidays. You could change up the sender to various Christmas characters, from Santa to Mrs. Claus or even the Grinch.

Visualize your subscribers’ inbox and their pleasantly surprised reaction when they see an email from Santa’s Helpers with stocking stuffer ideas for your friends and family, with a little emoji of a stocking at the start of a subject line. An email from Mrs. Claus could talk about holiday hosting and even the Grinch can get on it with financial advice to get the cheapest gifts without looking cheap.

Playful marketing is all about throwing the caution to the wind. Whatever typical reservations you have, put them aside for a month and experiment with a new way to do something.

Competition in the email inbox is fierce. Your customers are loyal, but sometimes it takes trying a new approach to grab their attention. Remember that it’s about more than just you and your campaigns. Subscriber inboxes are filled with compelling and competing offers, which means that you’ve really got to find a way to shine a bigger spotlight on yourself. Emojis and changing up the sender name are two creative and highly playful ways to do just that.

Think of it is getting past an important hurdle. As much as you might be averse to emojis or playful marketing, your serious marketing efforts don’t mean much if you can’t get past the hurdle of just getting email subscribers to click open your campaign. When you consider that Millennials are the largest growing demographic with a disposable income, you’re going to want to start communicating in their language. That language doesn’t take itself too seriously, has fun, and freely uses emoticons.