Should Emojis, Gifs, & Memes be a part of your Email Marketing Strategy?

Published: 29-Nov-2021
Last Updated: 25-Nov-2021
Should Emojis, Gifs, & Memes be a part of your Email Marketing Strategy?

What are Emojis, Gifs, & Memes?

guy in his high school photo that is used quite frequently to create memes

First and foremost, these three things are an integral part of online communication. And more than that, they are a part of the daily lives of people across the globe.   

They are used with astounding regularity. According to Variety, 10 Billion pieces of content are sent on Giphy per day. 

And that's just GIFs. Brandwatch estimates that another 10 Billion emojis are sent per day.

So you get the idea. These elements are extremely popular. 

Defining Emojis, GIFs, & Memes

Emojis - symbols that represent an idea or emotion.

GIFs (Graphics Interchange Formula) - soundless animated video clips that play in a continuous loop.

Memes - are often static images/videos that are combined with humorous text to create jokes that are spread and modified by internet users. 

Although the definition of a meme is fluid and there's overlap between memes and gifs, these  definitions can serve as a basic guide. 

Here are a few links if you want to take a deep dive into the history of memes:

Smithsonian - What Defines a Meme?

Wikipedia - Internet Meme

PBS - From Kilroy to Pepe: A Brief History of Memes

Popularity of Emojis, Gifs, & Memes

According to a survey by Litmus, over 50% of marketers said they have used an animated gif in their email marketing. We've seen brands like Nike use these in their email campaigns to stand out in the inbox and to create buzz around new products

If your audience grew up with the internet (Millennials and younger), then they expect to see these elements on the internet. Members of this demographic send animated gifs/emojis/memes maybe even more than they type full sentences.

man walking while looking at his phone, and clicking on emojis

According to Emogi, 92% of online consumers use emojis daily. So give them what they want! But don’t just add a random emoji. And don’t include memes from the dawn of memes. Your audience will notice that you don’t speak the language of the internet, and that you’re failing to keep up with the latest trends. 

If your audience is older and doesn’t use these elements regularly, then you probably shouldn’t use them in your marketing communications. Not using these elements in their daily lives is a signal that they will find them annoying/unprofessional coming from a business. 

But there is a large portion of the population between your high school-aged niece and your grandma, so we suggest keeping an open mind and testing the water with your audience. 

Using Emojis, Gifs, & Memes in Email Marketing 

screenshot of gmail when writing out an email that uses emojis

So you've evaluated your team of email marketers and have appointed a meme master. Now it's time to brainstorm.

When using Gifs, Emojis, and Memes these elements should be:

Carefully Vetted

Emails containing gifs and memes (especially those that are intended to be funny) should be shown to other team members before hitting send. This will help your team avoid posting content that is inappropriate or offensive. 

Your team should evaluate:

  • The origin of the meme/gif- you may be surprised by the backstory of a meme, and it may not represent your company's values.
  • Double Meanings- 🍆, or 🍑  are two examples of emojis with a hidden meaning. If you are unsure of the meaning of a particular emoji (and don't have a millenial at your disposal) head over to for assistance. 
  • Individual appearing in content- avoid posting content that includes celebrities that are involved in scandals.

Message Boosting

A picture is worth a thousand words - so how many is a gif or meme worth? The internet is still crunching the numbers, but it’s clear that they can quickly deliver a message. 

Although these elements are often associated with humor, that’s not the only way they can be used. Specifically, Gifs are great for delivering complex messages in a visual format. They can be used to demonstrate an app interface, add an eye-catching design element, or preview a linked video. 

However, it’s also easy to distract from your message with a gif/meme. When the average time spent reading an email is just over 11 seconds, it is important to keep your subscribers' short attention focused on your message.

Emojis are also a fun way to make emails more visually appealing and scannable. 

Original & On Brand

Include memes in your marketing from 2021 that are tailored to your niche. Whether you’re an IT company selling web hosting or a landscaping company, you know the struggles of your ideal customer. This means you are uniquely positioned to be the leading meme/gif supplier for your audience. 


A meme/gif is funniest the first time you see it and when it’s connected to a current event or trend. So don’t send your audience a general meme from 2014. Try to develop content that is connected to the Netflix original that everyone is watching or a trending viral video. 

Not Overused

Gifs, emojis, and memes when used effectively can boost open rates and email engagement. But there can be too much of a good thing. 

How to Create Your Own Memes & Gifs

Some technical knowledge is required to create these elements for your email marketing. If you have a design team at your disposal creating memes and gifs should be a relatively simple, and probably exciting, task.

But for those of us who are a marketing team of one, you may want to skip opening up Premier. 

Here are some tools to create meme and animated gif content:

Adobe Free Meme Generator

GIPHY Create

You will also need to keep file size in mind with memes and animated GIFs. The size of files contained in an email will affect email load time.

You need to be especially conscious when using GIFs. Litmus suggests keeping GIFs under 5 MBs. GIF size can be reduced by removing frames and adjusting color settings. 

Let Your Audience Decide 

Just like with all other elements of email marketing, it's important to evaluate your team to see if they are capable of using these elements to improve your brand's messaging. If your team members don't understand the sentiment of emojis or the meanings of Gifs you show them, don't go down this road. 

It's also important to know your audience and continuously run tests to make improvements. If you know your audience well, you probably have a intuition into their feelings about these elements; however, you could be surprised. Even tech guys and CEOs like to laugh. You can always start small by running an A/B test with an emoji in the subject line. The critical part is listening to your audience's response and not forcing these elements upon them. 


What's Next?

Are you ready to begin?

No problem! Schedule a call with us to get started on our journey together! 

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Need more time?

No problem! Honestly, it might never be the right time. 
We've got plenty of articles that discuss many of the topics that we'll talk about over the phone!

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