SMILEY in emails: Pro or against?

Sales strategy
30 May 2024


Tom was skeptical about the topic. "Emojis? Are they really that interesting?" he questioned.

I had to defend my article. I presented my arguments passionately, "But of course, there's so much to write about emojis! They're generational, cultural, emotional! They create a connection with the reader..."

He said, "We'll see."


So here's my article, and I hope you'll agree with me ๐Ÿ˜… (I love this smiley!)


The symbolism behind an emoji isn't universal. It varies not only by context, device (computer, phone, OS, Android) but also by culture. [I also like GIFs๐Ÿ˜น๐Ÿ˜ป]

Written communication suffers from what we call the "negativity bias," which naturally leads a reader to interpret a message more negatively than the author intended.


However, whether an email's subject is tense or not, studies show that simple variations in punctuationโ€”particularly the addition of exclamation pointsโ€”and a sprinkling of emojis can ease relations and alleviate potential tensions. Fantastic!!!!!


Example of Elena sending a second email payment request for an invoice:

  1. โ€œFor the second time: Could you please proceed with the payment of my invoice?โ€


  1. โ€œFor the second time: Could you please proceed with the payment of my invoice ๐Ÿ˜‡๐Ÿ˜Ž?โ€

Do you see what I mean?


The use of emojis in instant messaging and on social media has been established for a long time. In emails, however, there are still debates and hesitations. Does it look professional?

But what does it really mean to "look professional"?


Last week, I received a letter in the mail from my bank, and it had an emoji on itโ€”it was the first time I had ever seen one in a letter! Thanks to this little emoji, I actually read the entire letter for once!


I invite you to read this article about the world of emojis, and I hope to share my emoji enthusiasm with you. Let's go!!



The History of the Smiley ๐Ÿ˜Š


1963: The Birth of the Smiley Design ๐Ÿ–๏ธ

The iconic smiley face was born in 1963, thanks to the artist Harvey Ball. Tasked with boosting morale at an insurance company, he created this cheerful symbol. Initially, 100 smiley pins were handed out to employees to encourage them to smile while on the phone and during other tasks. The smiley pins were a huge hit, with orders coming in by the thousands. By 1971, over 50 million smiley face buttons had been sold, cementing the smiley as an international icon.



โ€ผ๏ธ Fun fact: As they said, Harvey Ball has been paid 45$ to draw itโ€ฆ


1982: The Emoticon is Born ๐Ÿ“ง

In 1982, Scott Fahlman revolutionized email communication. During a forum discussion at Carnegie Mellon University, he suggested using :-) and :-( to differentiate serious messages from jokes. This simple yet brilliant idea quickly caught on.


Here is the first recorded use of these symbols was on September 19, 1982 =

19-Sep-82 11:44 ย  ย Scott E ย Fahlman ย  ย  ย  ย  ย  ย  :-)

From: Scott E Fahlman <Fahlman at Cmu-20c>
I propose that the following character sequence for joke markers:


Read it sideways. ย Actually, it is probably more economical to mark

things that are NOT jokes, given current trends. ย For this, use


1999: The Dawn of Emojis ๐Ÿ“ฑ

Shigetaka Kurita created the first set of emojis in 1999 for Japanese mobile phones. At just 25, he was challenged by a messaging company to develop symbols to convey messages using as few words as possible. Inspired by Japanese kanji characters, he sketched 176 simple drawings representing everyday expressions and situations. Little did he know, twelve years later, Apple would integrate these emojis into their character library, leading to the fastest-evolving and most widely adopted language in history.


2010: Emojis Join the Unicode Standard ๐ŸŒ

In 2010, emojis were officially added to the Unicode Standard, enabling their use across different platforms. This was a game-changer, making emojis a universal language that transcends cultural and linguistic barriers.


Today: A Global Phenomenon ๐ŸŒ

Today, smiley faces and emojis are everywhere! They have become a universal language that helps convey emotions and connect people worldwide.

From a simple doodle to a global sensation, the smiley has certainly come a long way! ๐Ÿ˜Š


The Technical Side of the Smiley ๐Ÿ˜Š

Cross-Platform Differences ๐ŸŒ

Emojis can appear very different across various platforms (Apple, Google, Microsoft, Samsung, LG). This can lead to varying interpretations of the same emoji. For instance, the "grinning face with smiling eyes" emoji might look happy on one platform but aggressive on another.

๐Ÿ‘‰๐ŸผCheck out this GroupLens study for more insights.



  • Check Before You Send: Before inserting an emoji in an email, you can verify its appearance on different platforms using the reference site Emojipedia.
  • Exception to the Rule: Gmail displays emojis perfectly regardless of the operating system. It bypasses the OS and handles emoji rendering directly. Clever, right? However, this does mean Gmail imposes its own emoji designs.

Gmail always display emojis, but at his own design. โ€œit is important to know that Googleโ€™s emoji set looks different from those used by Windows and Apple.โ€ (source Litmus)


How Emojis Work in HTML Emails ๐Ÿ“ง


Encoding Emojis in HTML

Emojis in HTML emails are encoded as Unicode characters. Unicode is a standard that assigns a unique number to every character, including emojis, enabling their consistent representation across different platforms and devices.

Including Emojis in HTML Code

You can include emojis in HTML code using their Unicode representation. There are two primary ways to do this:

  1. Direct Input: Simply copy and paste the emoji directly into your HTML code.
  2. Unicode Escape Sequence: Use the Unicode escape sequence, which is in the format &#x1F600; for the grinning face emoji (๐Ÿ˜€).


Here is an example of both methods in HTML:

<!DOCTYPE html>
ย  ย <title>Email with Emojis</title>
ย  ย <p>Hello! ๐Ÿ˜€ This is an example of an emoji in an email.</p>
ย  ย <p>Hello! &#x1F600; This is an example of an emoji in an email using Unicode escape sequence.</p>

Emojis from Generational Perspectives ๐Ÿ‘ด๐Ÿ‘ฉโ€๐Ÿ’ป


Millennials and Gen Z

Younger generations, particularly Millennials and Gen Z, have grown up with digital communication and are generally comfortable using emojis in emails. For them, emojis can add a touch of friendliness and personality, making the communication feel more authentic. According to a study by Adobe, 67% of Millennials and 76% of Gen Z feel more comfortable expressing emotions through emojis than through words.


Baby Boomers and Gen X

On the other hand, Baby Boomers and Gen X may view emojis with skepticism, especially in professional settings. They often perceive emails as formal communication and might consider emojis as unprofessional or even frivolous. However, a Pew Research study showed that even these groups are slowly becoming more accepting of emojis in casual email exchanges.

๐Ÿ‘‰๐ŸผMake sure you pay attention to your target audience! You need to know them well to determine if you can use lots of emojis in your emails!


Emojis from Cultural Perspectives ๐ŸŒ

Emojis play a significant role in digital communication across the globe, but their usage and interpretation can vary widely between Western and Eastern cultures.

Western Cultures

In many Western cultures, emojis are embraced as a tool to enhance communication. They can help convey tone and emotion, which is often challenging to express through text alone. For example, a simple smiley ๐Ÿ˜Š can soften a request or show appreciation, making an email feel warmer and more engaging. This practice helps bridge the gap between formal and informal communication, making interactions more relatable and personable.


Eastern Cultures

In contrast, some Eastern cultures view the use of emojis in formal business communications as less professional. However, this perception is evolving, especially among the younger workforce, who are increasingly integrating emojis into their digital communication.

Japan, the birthplace of emojis, sees them used extensively in personal communication, but they are still used sparingly in professional contexts. For instance, a heart emoji โค๏ธ might be common in messages between friends but would be avoided in a business email.


Fun Facts About Emojis ๐ŸŽ‰

  • Emoji Day: World Emoji Day is celebrated on July 17th each year. This date was chosen because the calendar emoji on iOS devices shows July 17th. ๐Ÿ—“๏ธ

Emojis from Emotional Perspectives โค๏ธ๐Ÿ˜ก

In email marketing, the right use of emojis can strengthen connections with recipients, making messages more engaging and emotionally impactful. Imagine sending a thank-you email with a heart emoji โค๏ธ to show genuine appreciation, or using a thumbs-up ๐Ÿ‘ to convey approval and positivity.

On the other hand, using the sad face emoji ๐Ÿ˜ข can express empathy in a customer service email, showing that you understand and care about the recipient's concerns.


However, itโ€™s crucial to use emojis wisely to avoid misunderstandings and maintain effective, respectful communication. Overusing emojis or choosing the wrong ones can lead to confusion or even offend the recipient. Balancing emojis with clear, concise language ensures your message is both heartfelt and professional.


Why Using Smileys Can Help Seal the Deal ๐Ÿค

Using smileys in business communication can be a powerful tool to help close deals.

Here's why:

  • Builds Rapport: Smileys can create a sense of friendliness and approachability, helping to establish a positive connection with your counterpart. According to a study published in the journal Social Psychological and Personality Science, using emojis can increase perceptions of warmth and competence in digital communication.
  • Conveys Emotion: Smileys effectively convey emotions that might be hard to express through text alone. This can make your messages more relatable and engaging. For example, a simple ๐Ÿ˜Š can transform a neutral statement into a friendly one.
  • Enhances Clarity: Smileys can clarify the tone of your message, reducing the risk of misinterpretation. For instance, a ๐Ÿ˜‰ can indicate that a comment is made in jest, preventing potential misunderstandings.
  • Increases Responsiveness: People are more likely to respond positively to messages that include smileys. Research by the Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication found that emails containing emojis received higher response rates and were perceived more positively.


๐Ÿ˜‰๐Ÿ˜‰Tips๐Ÿค–: If you use ChatGPT, be aware that you need to be subtle with emojis. By default, it will give you double emojis like โ€œ๐Ÿ“ฌโœจโ€ at the end of the text. Prompt ChatGPT to put emojis inside the response, and use lots of them, but avoid double emojis.


Conclusion ๐Ÿ“

The decision to use emojis in emails ultimately depends on the context and your audience. While they can add a friendly and emotional touch to your communication, it's important to use them judiciously to avoid any potential pitfalls. Understanding generational and cultural differences can help you navigate this aspect of digital communication more effectively.


Using emojis in emails can be a powerful tool when used appropriately. By considering the perspectives of different generations and cultures, and understanding the emotional impact of emojis, you can make your email communication more effective and engaging.


In conclusion, incorporating smileys into your business communication can enhance rapport, clarity, and positivity, all of which are crucial in successfully closing deals.

So, donโ€™t hesitate to add a ๐Ÿ˜Š or ๐Ÿ‘ to your next emailโ€”it might just be the key to sealing the deal! ๐ŸŒŸ

Emoji Banks and Resources ๐Ÿ“š


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