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Apps with emoji in their descriptions generate more downloads, study finds

Turns out that people really, really love emoji. Marketing firm Emogi calculates that more than 2 trillion messages incorporating one of the colorful characters were sent by smartphone users in 2016 alone. Marketers used 775 percent more emoji in 2016 than the prior year. There’s an emoji search engine, touch bar, and even feature film. So perhaps it’s not all that surprising that apps with emoji in their description attract more downloads than those with plain old text.

That’s according to app developer Novoda, which conducted a study using Google’s Developer Console. It tracked the performance of three different app listings in the Google Play Store, three of which had emojis at the end of the description: a rocket ship, a humanoid holding waste over a recycling bin, and a double-underlined one hundred. A fourth listing — a control group — didn’t have any. Novada exposed 25 percent of Google Play Store users to the emoji-fied descriptions and 25 percent to plain text.

The results were surprising. In Germany and Italy, the “rocket” emoji and “100” emoji boosted downloads by a whopping 20 percent compared to the control group. Users in Poland, meanwhile, showed a clear preference for the “recycling” emoji — downloads did 7 percent better with it than without.

The data from other countries wasn’t as clear-cut. Would-be downloaders in Russia, France, Spain didn’t appear to prefer any one emoji over the other. And U.S.-based users preferred the description without the emoji over the emoji-fied listings.

The breakdown likely has something to do with cultural differences. According to a Swiftkey study published last year, countries like Canada were found to use the greatest number of “raunchy” emojis (money, violent, and sports emojis), while France used four times as many “heart” emojis than other countries. Brazil, meanwhile, used more than double the amount of religious emojis (prayer hands, church, star in night sky) than the average. Australia used clothing emoji at nearly twice the average rate. And users in Arab countries were more than four times as likely to use the “flower” and “plant” emojis.

The takeaway, Novado said, was that tailored app listings perform better than generic ones. Apps with emojis did 4.5 percent better on average than those without. “[Optimization] has real and measurable effects on [developer’s] revenue,” it said. “Localize your tests to get better results.”

One thing’s for sure: Emojis aren’t going away anytime soon. The world’s approximately 2 billion smartphone users send six billion emoji each day. Fully 92 percent of internet users employ emoji in everyday conversation, one-third of them daily. And nearly half of all posts on pic-sharing network Instagram contain an emoji of one form or another.

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Kyle Wiggers
Former Digital Trends Contributor
Kyle Wiggers is a writer, Web designer, and podcaster with an acute interest in all things tech. When not reviewing gadgets…
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