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Keep the Emoji Out of Your Business Email

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From humble beginnings as a colon-right parenthesis, to today’s amazing assortment of cutesy GIFs, emojis have become ubiquitous. They even have their own movie. But guess what. You ought not include that smiley face in your business email—especially if you want to be respected.

Though the purpose of an emoji may be to inject friendliness into the communication, the effort will probably fall short. Recently, Israeli researchers carried out experiments with 549 participants in 29 countries to see how people react to a smiley face in the text of their emails. They found that the emoji didn’t increase the reader’s perception of warmth from the sender at all, but it did have a negative impact on the perception of competence. (You can read a few more details here.)

That said, and since we are talking about business emails, we thought we add few more thoughts on how to have these important communications taken seriously:

Make your subject line honestly relevant to your audiences’ interests. Succinctly (55 characters or less) give the recipient a reason to open your email, but you don’t want to come across like a side-show barker. (No outrageous claims, and cool it with the exclamation points). A specific reference to an item of interest (or concern) usually helps.

Avoid suggestions of more than a business relationship. Obviously, you don’t want to run the risk of being overly familiar with someone you don’t know very well, but no matter how close you are with the person you’re emailing, it’s wise to remain impersonal. With business emails, you never know who might see it.

Include data to make a good impression. When you’re trying to persuade—or if you want to make it clear you know your stuff—quantified information (numbers, stats, percentages … etc.) will help you make your case. Add it if you have it.

Work your brand image into the message. It need not be as blatant as inserting your company tagline in the text of your email. A hint of reference to how your brand is differentiated from others in your industry can be sufficient.

Go with a generic close. It may seem a bit boring, but “Thank you,” “Regards” and “Best” are safer ways to end a business email than “Have a blessed day!” The Risk vs. Reward equation doesn’t justify going out on a limb.

If these points seem a little too stuffy for you, remember that you’re still free to be warm and personable when communicating in person or over the phone. That’s when your real-life smiley face is most likely to be appreciated.