Modern marketers must be both tenacious and smarter than ever. The fact is, getting through the clutter these days can be a tremendous uphill battle, requiring your sales team to send upwards of seven to nine emails just to get your prospect's attention, let alone land a calendar invite.

So how do you maintain the edge?

Emojis. 

You either love them, hate them, or just accept the fact that they're dramatically affecting the way we communicate online.

But how are emojis changing things? And how do you use them to your advantage?

I spoke with Tom Popomaronis, CEO and Founder of OpiaTalk, a company that specializes in hyper-conversion by means of their flagship widget. Headquartered in Baltimore, MD, Tom and his team have had to get creative in competing for attention with start-ups in the more traditional locations. Tom believes strongly in the power of emojis, and he backs that up with great arguments.

Here's what he had to say:

The fact is, because emojis are visual, they affect a different part of the brain. The human eye processes visual/pictoral information more quickly than words, making pictures of any kind a shortcut to comprehension and awareness. In fact, visual imagery is processed 60,000 faster than text.

For example, consider which subject line catches your eye first:

Amanda, regarding our proposal

Following up on our conversation

Steve - Thank you

Fwd: Julie, your name was given to me

, John - Tom () with OpiaTalk

Re: Next steps

Elizabeth, statement of work attached

See what I mean?

The real question for marketers, though, is whether including emojis in emails and elsewhere increases opens. Turns out, the answer is yes.

An A/B test by Swiftpage showed higher unique opens (+3.29%), more unique clicks (+6.28%), and higher click-through rates (+18.93%) for an identical subject line that featured a symbol.

Whether or not you end up clicking, here are three reasons we're entering the Age of the Emoji when it comes to sales and marketing:

1. They're attention-grabbing 

This is the obvious one, since it gives your sales team additional "at bat" impressions to get through the clutter. After that, it's up to the subject line and content itself to woo your recipient ever so creatively into clicking on the actual email.

2. They tell a story 

Regardless of whether you use them or not, emojis are an incredibly simple yet universal form of language. They're a form of relatable communication, and when it comes to infusing them into a subject line, they tell a better story. No matter how good your subject line is, it's almost impossible to compete with a complementary visual icon. It immediately stands out in an inbox.

3. They're better than "just" words  

From Facebook to HipChat to Slack to GroupMe (not to mention to a few dozen other platforms), emoji use and consumption is astoundingly high. Did you know there's an Emoji-pedia? Yes, it's an encyclopedia for emojis, and it's surprisingly deep in content.

Such interest isn't just because they're cute. It's because emojis (and other visual information) stimulate us on an emotional as well as intellectual level. They boost our feeling state, whether in a positive or negative direction, making them both more memorable and more impactful. Or as researcher J.R. Levin, author of Knowledge Acquisition from Text and Prose, says:

"Pictures interact with text to produce levels of comprehension and memory that can exceed what is produced by text alone."

I'm personally excited about the continued applied-use of emoji adoption. More specifically, I look forward to seeing how we can all push creativity limits, coming up with things we haven't seen yet. Here are my 2016 predictions when it comes to the Age of the Emoji:

An emoji-agency. I'm not even kidding. Full-service emoji consulting to suit your emerging digital needs. "Emojency" has a nice  to it.

More immersive use of augmented reality with emojis. Kudos to the Snapchat team for already pioneering an aspect of this.

Admittedly, I'm an Apple fanboy, but could see them unveiling a customizable "3.0" set of emoji's and custom upload through iOS device.

What do you think? Do you see emojis continuing to blend into more professional environments, or do you think they'll stay out? Emoji for your thoughts. 

Published on: Oct 16, 2015
Like this column? Sign up to subscribe to email alerts and you'll never miss a post.
The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.