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Should businesses use emoji’s in their communication? Here’s what a survey had to say

Picture: Unsplash

Picture: Unsplash

Published Jul 25, 2021


In light of World Emoji Day 2021, customer experience specialists, nlighten conducted a survey on the use of emojis in business.

The CX company asked owners, directors, and middle and senior management across multiple industries how they felt about using emojis in their day-to-day business communications.

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Overall, the scales tipped in favour of using emojis in business, with a 60% positive response rate.

The number one reason businesses gave for using emojis was that it made them more approachable (51%) and added an element of fun, while 45% said it was unprofessional and that customers won’t take them seriously. The undecided respondents said they would only consider using emojis if they had an established relationship with a client.

When asked if they currently use emojis in their business communications, there was a perfect 50/50 split.

The popular smiley face got the majority vote as the most used emoji in business, at 54%. This was followed by the thumbs-up emoji at 41%.

“It seems to be a personal preference, but it’s interesting to see how regardless of whether or not you use emojis in your business communication, it’s become an acceptable form of professional communication,” says Nathalie Schooling, CEO of nlighten.

The type of industries respondents work in also had an influence on their stance on emojis. If you work in the B2B sector, relationships are key to client retention so it makes sense that some would only consider using smiley faces in their emails if they had an established relationship with a customer,” says Schooling.

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Financial services, marketing, technology, education, outsourced services, and the retail sector made up the predominant industries in which the respondents worked. In addition, over 60% of the survey respondents fell within the ages of 25yrs- 44 yrs. 37% were between 45yrs – 64yrs, and the majority were either company owners or directors.

With Covid-19 enforcing a remote workforce, and changing the nature of our professional communication, attitudes towards using emojis in business are beginning to change too.

According to Behavioural Specialist, Justine Jackson-Fraser from Psychology at Work, how a business uses emojis can tell you a lot about their company culture and says that normalising emotional expression in the workplace is in fact healthy. “Using emojis can help convey complicated emotional expression. I see people matching emoji use with their written word as a form of EQ (emotional intelligence). Companies that ban emojis or frown upon them actually risk coming across as a bit stuck up or old fashioned.”

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Emojis are processed by the brain as non-verbal information, they are interpreted as emotional communication, and can therefore evoke an emotional response. “This can be useful in sales when dealing with customers, as it can make the customer feel like they are interacting with a human. The tone of voice and context can be easier to express with visuals, and many companies have embraced the emoji as a way to convey empathy and authenticity during the pandemic,” adds Schooling.


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