Reply Research: Can Emojis and Attachments Impact Your Cold Email Performance?

Reply Research: Can Emojis and Attachments Impact Your Cold Email Performance?


If you’re like me, not ready to settle for less, you must have already tried every trick in the cold outreach book, including some of the risky or controversial ones. 

Well, there’s definitely been a lot of talk about using emojis in sales emails, yet, many SDRs consider them inappropriate for business communications. Attachments – a less talked about tactic – is one I really wanted to explore myself.

The good thing is I have our amazing data science team by my side and they’ve analyzed 2 million emails to help me figure out how emojis and attachments might affect your email performance. 

And I’m happy to share some of our findings with you in the next issue of Reply Research – a series of data-backed blog posts exploring different aspects of outreach.

Let’s get to the point!

reply research visual

Data-backed insights on using visuals in cold outreach

How emojis, images, attachments, and GIFs can impact your cold outreach performance (+ actionable tips to implement right away).

Should you use emojis in the subject lines?

It might seem to you that we’re too focused on subject lines with 2 of our previous Research issues exploring subject line best practices and specific words to use for better results. 

Well, I am convinced that your subject line is the single most important element – the one that can get your email either opened or sent straight to trash. So it’s really impossible to underestimate its importance in cold outreach.

That is also why I was so eager to see how emojis can affect your subject line performance.

Even though we sell to businesses, we always try to build and maintain friendly, informal relationships with our prospects. Yet, using emojis in cold outreach might seem too extreme. To clear up any doubt, let’s turn to the data.

So, the first question I wanted to answer with our research is: Can emojis really help your cold emails get more opens?

And without further ado, the answer is a resounding YES!

emoji open rate

As you can see, the average open rate of over 2 million emails analyzed is 30.91%. Out of these 2 million, we’ve picked the ones with subject lines containing emojis. In this case, the average open rate equaled 37.8%.

This means, by simply including a smiley in your subject line, you can increase your open rate by over 22% – which translates into 7 additional opportunities in your inbox for every 100 emails you send!

Obviously, the 22% increase in engagement makes a huge difference. I think that’s because emojis aren’t very common in cold email subject lines and really help you stand out in the inbox, drawing the prospect’s attention to your email.

Plus, a single emoji can convey a whole phrase, which helps you keep your subject lines shorter making them more likely to get opened (as we’ve previously discovered in our research).

How do emojis and attachments influence your cold email open rate?

There’s no doubt that subject lines are important. Yet, it’s not the only part of your email that the prospect sees at a glance in their inbox. There’s also a preview (which may also contain emojis) as well as attachments.

Sure, sending a 30-page pitch deck along with your initial cold email isn’t the best strategy. But there are situations where an attachment can come in handy. But won’t that hurt your open rates?

This is the next thing I was eager to investigate. And now I have my answer.

emoji and attachments open rate

As follows from the chart above, including an attachment or using emojis in your email body can help you increase your open rate by up to 15%.

And if you think about it for a minute, it makes sense!

For example, here’s what an email containing attachment looks like in the inbox. Gmail will show the name of the attached item as well as its format (be it a pdf, image, or a Google Doc), either of which can make your recipient curious to see what’s in there.

attachments in inbox

The same goes to the emails containing emojis. They really stand out among the rest of the emails in your inbox. Which, I assume, makes people more likely to open it.

emojis in inbox

Yet, getting your email opened is only half the battle.

Do cold emails containing emojis and attachments generate more replies?

The whole purpose of sending a cold email is to get a reply. After all, what’s the point of having people open and read your cold emails if you don’t get any response?

So, the next insight I want to share with you is the potential impact of emojis and attachments on your cold email reply rate.

Here’s what we’ve found out.

attachments and emojis reply rate

As you can see, the average reply rate of all emails analyzed for this research is 3%.

The average reply rate of the emails containing emojis is 3.06% – a decidedly insignificant increase, one within the margin of error. That means I can state without hesitation that using emojis in your cold email template is unlikely to have any real impact on its reply rate. 

But hey! It won’t hurt to A/B test a few templates to see for yourself 😉.

As for the attachments, their influence on your reply rate is pretty obvious, with an average of 4% (compared to 3%). This means a 33% increase – a huge difference!

Can emojis and attachments help you generate more “Interested” replies?

Working in sales development for 5+ years, I’ve received my share of replies – and let me tell you not all of them were positive or nice! Sure, there’s always a chance to turn a no into a yes. But still getting a positive reply from a prospect is the biggest joy for any SDR.

That is why we’ve decided to go one step further with this research and analyze the replies to understand how many of them are positive or negative. 

BTW, the AI algorithm embedded in our platform can do that automatically in your inbox (+ help with many other things).

Generate unique email templates in just a click and optimize them for better results with our AI Email Assistant.

Before we get to the point, let me explain how we calculate the “Interested” reply rate.

Let’s assume that you’ve sent 100 emails and received 10 replies. Two of those responses express obvious interest (e.g., “I’m interested” or “sure, let’s talk”) while 5 are clearly negative (e.g., “not interested” or “do not contact me again”).

You know the formula to calculate the reply rate:

Reply rate = emails replied to / emails sent * 100%

In our case the reply rate equals 10% (10 / 100 * 100%)

To calculate the “interested” reply rate = replies with interest / emails replied * 100%.

In our case, it will be 20% (2 / 10 * 100%).

The same applies to “not interested” reply rate: replies with no interest / replied emails * 100%.

Accordingly, the “not interested” reply rate in this case will be 50% (5 / 10 * 100%).

Now, let’s see if emojis and attachments can help you generate more positive replies.

emojis attachments interested replies

So, as you can see, for every 100 replies to the emails we’ve analyzed, on average, there have been 15 positive ones. If we’re looking at the emails with attachments, those generate 20 positive replies for every 100. Which is interesting! 

It turns out that including attachments really helps you increase your “Interested” reply rate. My guess is that SDRs tend to use attachments to add more value to the cold emails – which makes people more likely to give a positive response.

As for the emojis, the situation is pretty similar with 18 out of 100 replies being positive. 

So make sure to experiment with these elements in your outreach!

What’s the “Not Interested” reply rate when using emojis and attachments?

What about the “not interested” reply rate?

Let me remind you about our formula: “not interested” reply rate = replies with no interest / emails replied * 100%.

Here’s what we’ve found.

emojis attachments negative replies

The average “not interested” reply rate for all emails we’ve analyzed is around 18%, meaning that for every 100 replies we get 18 will be negative.

Our data shows that emails containing attachments get almost the same share of negative responses (18.51%). So it’s safe to assume that attachments don’t have any negative impact on your email performance.

What about emojis? In this case, you can expect to get 20 negative replies (as compared to 18 on average).

My guess is that it all depends on your ICP. For example, a CEO of an enterprise-level, Fortune 500 organization might not appreciate your emoji, making your email look less business-like.

reply research visual

Data-backed insights on using visuals in cold outreach

How emojis, images, attachments, and GIFs can impact your cold outreach performance (+ actionable tips to implement right away).

Wrapping up

In conclusion, let me sum it up for you:

  • Using emojis in your subject line and adding attachments to your cold email can help it visually stand out in the prospect’s inbox and increase the open rate.
  • Attachments don’t just help your email catch the prospect’s attention; they also carry some extra value leading to higher “Interested” reply rates.

So if you’re looking for a quick and easy way to boost your email performance, experiment with these elements. To be sure, set an A/B test to check if our insights apply to your case.

And we will soon be back with the next issue of Reply Research, exploring the impact of visual elements in cold outreach. In that installment, we will analyze how images and GIFs might impact your email performance. 

So be on the lookout for that!

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