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The Emoji Revolution: Rise of Emoji Marketing [Part 2/3]

Culture Annie Pagano on Nov 8, 2016 10:00:00 AM

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In Part 1 of this three-part series, we broke down the origins of both the emoticon and the emoji. If you missed the first post, click here to catch up. It’s clear that emoji have taken the Western world by storm. A couple facts to demonstrate their immense popularity (NY Mag, IP Watchdog):

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  • Over 6 billion emoji were sent every day last year

  • Emoji as a group are used more frequently on Twitter than are hyphens or the numeral 5

  • Demographics of every age group are so enamored by emoji that the ‘Face with Tears of Joy’ emoji was selected as Oxford Dictionaries 2015 Word of the Year.

Emoji are especially popular with teen and young adults in the United States. Tech companies and brands, that have traditionally had trouble reaching this demographic, are increasingly investing time and money to crack the code that is emoji. Google Trends data shows the increase in popularity of the term over time. Just recently, The Museum of Modern Art in New  York acquired the original 176 character emoji set for its permanent collection. Within the same week, VICE News released a segment on “The History of The Emoji” on HBO (which happened to be released the day before part 1 of this series!). 

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The Future of Marketing?

  • The Guardian publishedPresident Obama’s State of the Union address in emoji

  • Hillary Clinton initiated a conversation about student debt on Twitter asking for responses in emoji

  • Emoji are now visible in email subject lines and studies have shown they have higher click through rates (Experien)

  • Twitter launched emoji activated hashtags for the United Nations’ COP21 climate change summit in Paris

  • LinkedIn Messagingadded support for emoji

  • Domino’s allows people to tweet a ‘pizza’ emoji to initiate a pizza order

We are even seeing brands creating their own emoji keyboards – and they’ve been wildly successful too! Dove’s “Love Your Curls” emoji was developed by Snaps who said it was one of its most successful campaigns. Even Kim Kardashian created her own keyboard. Surprisingly, at its peak, the keyboard was generating $1 million in gross income per minute. It’s safe to assume most of Kim’s fans are younger females, which shows you the type of buying power that demographic has.

The bottom line is: emoji marketing campaigns are working. And not only are they working, but a majority of them are wildly successful when done correctly. Research conducted by Appboy shows that conversion rates associated with emoji messaging campaigns have increased 135% throughout the past year alone. 

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Image: Appboy

Know Your Market

Of course, like any good marketing campaign, it’s important to truly know your market. Emoji marketing won’t be for everyone. The same Appboy research also found that a small percent finds them inappropriate (11%) or childish (12%). Although it’s easy to brush this marketing technique off as for B2C only, there is certainly room for it as well in B2B. B2B is an extremely broad term and the key to success with emoji marketing is segmentation. Although marketers are seeing stronger results from messaging campaigns that include emoji, they have also been better at creating targeted campaigns rather than blasting them to their entire database.

 

Translation: The Logical Next Step?

Many say that emoji are a universal language and even transcend language barriers. While this is true, a smiley face does mean the same thing across cultures; there are still those that have mixed interpretations (as referenced in part I). In addition, emoji show up differently on different phone operating systems. There are hundreds that have been made uniform across operating systems, but many show up slightly different resulting in drastically different interpretations. The table below shows how one emoji displays differently depending on the device and how likely it is to be misconstrued based on the difference in appearance.

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We predict that this proclivity for misinterpretation will eventually, at some level, cause issues for brands utilizing emoji in their marketing tactics. We have heard first hand from translators that very large corporations have approached them to translate emoji. Just as crowd sourced translations have become more popular to create a uniform message across cultures, could this be the future of emoji translation? Who will this new group of translators be?

Keep an eye out for the conclusion to this series where we work with a couple teenage girls (13-16 years old) on their opinions and ability to translate emoji’. Let’s see just how different each translation may turn out…