Emojis in Financial Services Messaging?

By Marielle Lea

Financial services are serious business. So if you’ve never considered peppering your marketing messages with hearts, clapping hands and other whimsical in-text images, you’re probably not alone. As you might have guessed, research has shown that using emojis in mobile marketing is a tactic that works well for some industries and disastrously for others.

You may be surprised to learn, however, that business and finance is one of the sectors where emojis have been shown to work especially well. Emojis are typically seen as playful, cartoonish and in direct contrast with the solemn nature of the finance industry. Yet, that juxtaposition might be exactly what engages the customer. Here’s what’s at play.

Beyond the smiley face.

Emojis are distinct from emoticons in that emojis are actual pictures, while emoticons are keyboard characters grouped together to look like face conveying an emotion. ¯\(ö)/¯

If you’ve used a computer or mobile phone at any point in the 21st century, you’ve probably encountered the iconic yellow face of an emoji. However, if you take the time to browse your smartphone, you’ll find hundreds of emojis, including people, animals, food, cars, sports, hearts, symbols and much more. While they used to be considered the domain of teenagers, their ability to create nuanced meaning in shorthand has allowed them to spread across all age groups. In fact, some people can create an entire message using emojis alone.

Emojis and push notifications.

The rise of emoji use has led to its inclusion in the ever-changing world of mobile marketing—particularly with push notifications. This is the type of message that pops up on smart devices as a text or email alert would, even when the related app is closed. Businesses can incorporate push notifications into their mobile marketing mix to increase brand engagement.

The theory behind using emojis in push notifications is that it makes the communications more personalized and attention-grabbing. People often use emojis and emoticons to communicate with friends and family. Therefore, when a brand uses a silly face or funny icon to deliver a promotional message, the company conveys to the consumer that they’re in a close relationship—even friends.

Emojis increase click-through rate by 128% for financial brands.

Mobile marketing firm CleverTap recently analyzed nearly 200 million push notifications that included emojis. In an earlier study of more than 40 billion push notifications, CleverTap had established a benchmark click-through rate of 2.74 percent across all industries. With the use of emojis, the CTR on push notifications increased to 3.48 percent across all industries.


Out of all of the industries studied, the business and finance sector saw the largest improvement in CTR after implementing emoji marketing. The baseline average CTR for business and finance push notifications was 5.46 percent. With the use of emojis, that CTR grew to 12.45 percent—a whopping 128 percent increase.


Of course, there are a lot of emojis out there, and many will not resonate with an audience of bank customers. The study found that the three top-performing emojis for business and finance—using their Apple names—are: face screaming in fear, high voltage and money bag.


Insert “surprised face” here.

When it comes to marketing, data can sometimes turn the common wisdom upside down. While it might be easy for marketers to dismiss emojis as inappropriate for financial services, it’s also important to stay in touch with what customers actually respond to.

Financial institutions may see great success by changing a traditional, straight-faced marketing approach to include emojis. The fun-loving images can make the stressful, often scary topics of money and business more digestible and approachable to the average consumer.

Remember: before you can integrate push notifications with emojis, you should have a well-designed app and strong app acquisition and retention numbers. The emojis won’t make much of a difference if no one is being driven to your mobile app in the first place.

Marielle Lea is a content marketing specialist at Siege Media, an Austin, Tex.-based content marketing agency. Email: [email protected]