Outreach data scientists put emojis in B2B e-mail subject lines to the test, and . . .

Oureach emojis B2B e-mail sales
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Adding little clocks or other emojis before and after B2B e-mail subject lines like “Quick call next week” have a negative impact on reply rates, according to tests conducted by sales enablement firm Outreach.

Using seven different variations featuring emojis that were subject to an A/B split, Outreach found an overall 42 per cent decline in replies from potential B2B buyers in its test e-mail campaigns. Some of the emojis included a woman throwing up her hands with the subject line, “Shameless last attempt,” and a rocket emoji followed by a bag of cash emoji and an emoji of two hands raised up enthusiastically with the subject-line “What if your sales people were as persistent as me?”

Rather than look at emoji usage in a general way, the Outreach data science team focused specifically on messages that would be sent in the middle or near the end of a series of attempts by sales people to follow up on a lead.

“Given the volume of available emojis, the team placed a variety of different emojis across different sequences to cover a wide area of possibilities, and get an indication of where to dig deeper, and then run more subsequent tests to further hone the experiment,” Outreach said in a blog post describing the experiment. “After four weeks, the test accumulated nearly 2,000 samples for each subject line. After sifting through the findings, the experiment results indicated that using emojis did not lead to an increase in reply rate for our Outreach reps.”

Outreach suggested the results shouldn’t lead B2B marketers to abandon the notion of using emojis in e-mail entirely, but to conduct similar kinds of A/B testing.

ZoomInfo, in a recently published guide on the use of emojis in B2B marketing, offered similar advice, along with suggestions around consistent policies for a particular team. And while sales e-mails may pose some challenges, ZoomInfo argued that emojis could humanize the way B2B brands communicate with their target audiences.

“When used appropriately in the workplace, emojis can reinforce a message, provide context, or help dictate the tone of an email,” the guide says. “Think about it this way– how many times have you misinterpreted a text message or email and spent the rest of the day wondering what you did wrong? A simple smiley face emoji– as silly as it sounds– can humanize written word and provide any lacking context or emotion.”

Outreach admitted that other B2B firms came up with very different findings than its data science team. A study from  Experian Marketing Services said an airplane emoji lead replies to skyrocket by 56 per cent, for example, while Swiftpage said it saw a 93 per cent click-through rate increase by adding an emoji into prospecting e-mails.

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Shane Schick

Shane Schick

Shane Schick is the Editor-in-Chief of B2B News Network. He is the former Editor-in-Chief of Marketing magazine and has also been Vice-President, Content & Community (Editor-in-Chief), at IT World Canada, a technology columnist with the Globe and Mail and was the founding editor of ITBusiness.ca. Shane has been recognized for journalistic excellence by the Canadian Advanced Technology Alliance and the Canadian Online Publishing Awards.