How to Effectively Use Emojis in Your Marketing

Face with tears of joy, see no evil monkey, pulling tongue face… how did we ever convey our emotions before the use of emojis? Emojis can translate our emotions effortlessly when we’re texting or DM’ing our friends, but does this mean we should incorporate them into our brand’s marketing efforts?

Before incorporating emojis into your marketing strategy, first, identify whether they’re appropriate for your brand and audiences. For instance, a fast-fashion brand may use emojis to be conversational and relatable with a young audience. In contrast, a luxury homeware brand may limit the use of emojis in order to be perceived as premium or aspirational. Emojis can add a visual element and a splash of personality to your content and social posts, and when used correctly, can encourage user engagement. According to Econsultancy, including an emoji in a tweet can increase engagement by 25%, while using them in a Facebook post can increase likes by 57% and comments and shares by 33%.

The Emoji Rule Book:

  • Always pair emojis with related text to support the message. 
  • The best placement for emojis is at the start or/and end of a sentence.
  • Don’t overuse emojis and spam content with them for the sake of it. 
  • Make sure the emojis have relevant meanings (visit Emojipedia to double-check each definition). 
  • Utilise social intelligence tools to choose emojis that are popular amongst your target audience
  • Encourage interactions with emojis, i.e. ‘Like this post if you agree! 👍’
  • Only use emojis when appropriate. If you’re talking about a serious topic, you may want to avoid going down the emoji route. 
  • Add impact to sales or announcements with attention-grabbing emojis, i.e. ‘📣🚨 Flash sale live tonight. 🔥’

So, we’ve established that emojis can be a valuable marketing tool if used in the right context to the right audience. Emojis are a simple way to add personality, colour and a visual element to your communications. While they can’t necessarily replace words, they can enforce the meaning of your message and give it the extra oomph needed to excite, persuade, or intrigue your audiences. 

Want to know whether you should include emojis in your marketing campaigns? It’s a thumbs up from AYKO. 👍

Want to increase engagement via email and social? Our Performance Marketing team can assist with all aspects of your outbound marketing strategy.

Overarching Website Design Trends for 2020

If you’re wondering how your website design stacks up, start by asking yourself the following questions: 

  • Is information across your site clear and easily consumable?
  • Is the design universal, so that it does not exclude any users?

Just because a website is usable, does not mean customers will use it. Web design in 2020 is much more than usability, from accessibility to user engagement, our Creative team explore the web design trends to focus on when it comes to your eCommerce website.

Design to Promote Trust

In recent years, consumers have become more in tune with identifying false information and brands have at last realised the importance of customer trust as a purchasing decision. As a result, companies are making changes to their policies and in some instances, the design of their website. 

Major social media platforms have introduced policies and new designs to help users better identify and judge false information and sponsored content, but how does this translate in website design?

AYKO Creative Team Suggest:

  • Clearly label your types of content, i.e. organic and paid-for content so readers can make a better judgement.
  • Make content sources and authors (including their credentials) more obvious so readers can evaluate its credibility.
  • Use related content to add context to content, especially for opinion pieces.

Consider Accessibility for All Users

We’ve touched on this topic before in our recent post ‘Colour Compliance and Accessibility on the Web’, but considering accessibility for all users, regardless of their abilities, is crucial. 

Ensuring the design of your site is as inclusive as possible will prevent valued customers from encountering difficulties which might otherwise stop them from achieving their goals. You’ll need to consider many factors which affect accessibility, including colour compliance, font size, alt text and HTML elements. 

AYKO Creative Team Suggest:

  • Weave accessibility checks into every step of the project, not just at the end of the process to ensure all designers own their responsibility and time is not wasted amending signed off designs.
  • Finally, check your design project against Vox’s Accessibility Guidelines checklist to see what you score.

Design Without Bias

As designers, we relentlessly aim to consider other views through user research, A/B testing, heat mapping, and so on. Still, as humans, we’re subject to our unconscious assumption that what works for us will work for everyone else.

Inclusivity is more than accounting for disabilities; it’s also about accounting for the difference in people’s interests, upbringings, viewpoints, and so on. To design without bias, designers must study intended audiences in-depth and bear their audience in mind throughout the design process.

AYKO Creative Team Suggest:

  • Always work with the constraints of a framework or design system to avoid going off track and our biases leading the way.
  • Complete in-depth user research considering cognitive habits, viewpoints and identities, and lean on this to consciously limit biases. 

While there are many new web design trends, techniques, tools that are improving UX in 2020, we have chosen not to focus on those in this article, but to instead focus on the overarching trends we believe matter most. Fundamentally, we find a web design which is committed to helping users better understand the content, regardless of their ability and identity, will pave the way in 2020.

Want a website design that reflects your brand and speaks your customer’s language? Our designers can offer guidance and talk you through our Creative Services.

Search Alternatives: Is There Anything Better than Google?

In 2019, it was reported that Google has 92% of the search engine market share worldwide. Processing approximately 70,000 search queries every second, 5.8 billion searches per day and 2 trillion searches per year globally!

While Google undeniably remains the most popular search engine, is it possible that merchants are overlooking other potential lucrative search avenues in the bid to come out top on Google? In this blog, we’ll take a deeper dive into some other search engines, considering several perspectives, including usability, privacy, popularity and advertising. 

Other Search Engines



DuckDuckGo has a growing following of users who have a shared interest in protecting their privacy. Processing around 1.5 billion searches every month, DuckDuckGo works in broadly the same way as any other search engine. It combines data from hundreds of sources (including Wolfram Alpha, Wikipedia and Bing) with its own web crawler, to surface the most relevant results. The key differences are that DuckDuckGo does not store IP addresses or user information, they do not share searches with advertisers, and Google products and services do not accompany results.

DuckDuckGo is transparent on why they include some ads alongside searches, and this is to make enough money for the search engine to operate. Ads presented are more generic, so users do not feel like the invasion of personal space often prompted by personalisation technology, that many other search engines use.



Bing may be more significant than you think. It’s the second-largest search engine by market share in the US, and one of the 50 most visited sites on the internet according to Alexa rankings. From a user perspective, the Bing homepage replicates Google’s and the act of searching is almost identical. 

Searches on Xbox, Alexa, Siri, Kindle and Cortana are all powered by Bing, so the impact of how people search on different devices has played into Bing’s favour, increasing its popularity.

There’s still a long way to go before it catches up with the popularity of Google, but by capturing the opportunity in device-led search, Microsoft are future proofing for life after desktop.



Chinese authorities blocked websites and search engines such as Google and introduced Baidu to control content nationwide. As a result, Baidu is now the chosen search engine for many Chinese people, ranking 5th most popular website worldwide according to Alexa results. Baidu even allowed companies to bid on space for ads long before Google introduced their ads feature, and traditionally its demographic of users believe that if a company can pay for the ads, it is a reliable company. 

With over 700 million active users in China alone, Baidu has a massive network of users which continues to grow. If you’re considering targeting Chinese markets, it is crucial to bear in mind that Baidu is mainly used to raise brand awareness (when a search is driven by purchase intent, typically users will turn to the relevant eCommerce website). To ensure your ads are a success, we recommend using local experts to localise your ad copy rather than simply translating your UK ads. 



Yandex is Russia’s leading search engine and is also popular in Ukraine, Kazakhstan, Turkey, and Belarus. Unlike Google, it offers a cloud storage service so that users can search for their files from Yandex’s search bar. However, the advertising model for Yandex.Direct is very similar to Google AdWords in that ads are displayed according to your bidding strategy, and merchants are charged every time someone clicks on their ad. 


Want to grow your online presence in the increasingly lucrative Eastern European internet market? The fastest and most cost-effective way of getting your brand in front of this audience is to run PPC campaigns via Yandex while taking inspiration from its Negative Suggestion feature.

Of course, we have only covered a small fragment of the search engines that are out there, and alongside this, there’s also the prevalence of Amazon’s A9 search division and YouTube to consider. Ultimately, Google should remain at the forefront of your SEO strategy, but it’s essential to consider alternative traffic opportunities and search engines which are right for your service or products. By diversifying your channels, you may be more likely to capture first-page on search results and be in a better position to connect with your ideal target audience.

Want help with your SEO strategy? We’re offering free SEO audit to help retailers identify opportunities to drive organic traffic to their website. Apply for your free SEO audit today.

Chat for Magento by Dotdigital

The Magento 2.3.4 release welcomed a Live Chat module powered by our partners Dotdigital among other new technologies and enhancements. The feature is exclusive for Magento 2 merchants who will have access to a free live chat agent, even if they’re not a Dotdigital Engagement Cloud customer.

As a marketing automation partner, Dotdigital is renowned for enabling brands to create real-time interactions and engaging experiences with their consumers. Their email automation platform was one of the first integrations to be bundled directly into Magento’s core codebase. To help further encourage purchasing decisions and solve challenges in real-time, Dotdigital’s Live Chat now enables B2C and B2C merchants to connect with their consumers through an interactive chat.

The Benefits of Live Chat for eCommerce

  • It’s convenient and quick for customers who are already in the buying journey as there is no need to dial a number or move away from a web page.
  • It saves merchants money as fewer Customer Services resource is needed.
  • It provides a competitive advantage if consumers are looking for an answer to a query before making a purchase. 
  • It increases sales, especially if support is provided at the checkout stage.
  • It increases customer loyalty as consumers feel you are there to listen and help.

While the free version within the release includes access to one agent, merchants may want to upgrade to have multiple agents and further technical support. For those that want to be able to use this conversational data to drive other experiences such as email marketing, we recommend upgrading for full access to Dotdigital Engagement Cloud.

Want to utilise Live Chat on your Magento store? As a Magento Solutions Partner, we can manage your Magento patches and upgrades and help you stay ahead of the curve.

How to Charm Your Audience this Valentines Day

Valentine’s Day can provide big business as people will quite often spend a lot of money on treating the ones they love. Many businesses can utilise this time of year to drive revenue and increase spend on gifts. Traditionally, gifts such as jewellery, clothes, dinner or flowers are associated with Valentine’s Day, however, that shouldn’t stop any other brands from trying to promote their products too. 

We also see a lot of love for our furry friends on Valentine’s Day as well as significant others, with many seeing their pets to be just as deserving of a Valentines gift. According to the National Retail Federation, 21.2% of people they surveyed plan to buy gifts for their pets and on average, more than double is spent on pets during the Valentines period compared to how much is spent during the Halloween period. This indicates how any business can potentially capitalise on the Valentines period.

We’re here to provide some useful tips and tricks which can help you to promote your business during the Valentines period and increase revenue and brand awareness.

Gift Guides

Gift Guides can be a really powerful way to attract buyers to your store. Shoppers are often unsure of what to buy or what gifts would go together, particularly if they’re trying to buy Valentine’s themed gifts. Gift Guides give buyers an idea of the kinds of products on offer while giving them some much-needed inspiration to help generate ideas. You can also reach out to bloggers that have the same target audience as your customer base to highlight your products and increase brand awareness. Being included in a trusted bloggers gift guide can provide a big boost for your brand, particularly when shopping for a holiday such as Valentine’s Day.


Offer Anonymous Gift Delivery and Wrapping

A lot of customers like to surprise that special someone in their life and anonymous gifting is a lovely way to do this. Many brick and mortar stores offer this service for Valentine’s gifts for free, so providing this service can give you an edge for your online business too. Shopify merchants can utilise an app called “One Click Upsell” which provides users with a gift wrapping option at checkout. You can also include a greeting card in the package for that special message for your significant other to give it that extra special touch. 


Daily Deals and Time-Sensitive Offers

Many gift buyers will often buy things at the last minute, usually under the pretence that they have plenty of time to buy their gift until they don’t. A lot of buyers will also hesitate or think too hard about their decisions before making the jump. Creating daily deals and time-sensitive offers creates a sense of urgency and can give gift buyers that little push they need to make the purchase sooner rather than later.

Special Valentine’s promotions can drive revenue over the Valentine’s period. Using flash sales with a timer on the sale promotion can help create a greater sense of urgency and can help drive buyers to complete the purchase immediately, giving those who are unsure the gentle push they need to make a purchase.


Using Social Media to Market Your Brand

Social Media is an everyday part of people’s lives in today’s society, and utilising it for a Valentines marketing campaign can greatly increase awareness and ultimately drive revenue. Facebook Ads are one of the most effective ways of engaging due to Facebook’s high market share in the social media market. Facebook Ads manager has helpful tools for retargeting customers using email lists and phone numbers to help re-engage with previous customers who may have bought during a different holiday period such as Christmas. Effective targeted campaigns can be achieved through Facebook on just a low daily budget.

YouTube is another highly popular platform which can provide great benefit due to many regarding it as a highly influential channel for purchasing decisions as shoppers are able to see a product in action. Asking an influencer to provide product reviews for your Valentine’s gifts on YouTube can help increase awareness while giving your potential customers the sense they’re getting unbiased advice from a real person.

Other platforms such as Snapchat, Instagram and Pinterest can also give your Valentines campaigns a boost. Instagram offers a carefully selected and curated feed for your audience, while Snapchat can be used to show the realistic side of your brand. Pinterest users can also create themed boards using images to create a themed gift set or to save a selection of options to decide from later. Feeding back into the gift guide point earlier, an influencer could also use Pinterest to create a Pinterest board curated from the items they rate highly for Valentines day and share this with their followers.



Valentine’s Day isn’t just a revenue booster for chocolates, flowers, jewellery and expensive dinners, many businesses can profit from the marketing opportunities presented to them by this romantic time of year. Using gift guides can help offer ideas and showcase what products you have to offer, while anonymous gifting options can help you compete with the high street.

If you want to create a sense of urgency, we recommend daily deals and time-sensitive offers to help those hesitant buyers and last-minute purchasers take the jump and buy that gift. Finally, use the reach of social media platforms to your advantage – they’re a powerful and cost-effective way of generating hype and awareness for your products and your brand!

Want to charm your audience with an irresistibly good marketing campaign this Valentines Day? Reach out to our experienced Marketing Team today!

SMS Marketing for eCommerce Makes a Comeback

SMS marketing stands for ‘short message service’, otherwise known as a text message. Although SMS marketing is not a ground-breaking new concept, it is a niche channel that we have seen a rise in popularity in. With brands using SMS marketing to connect with their customers outside of order confirmation and shipping updates, to boost engagement and increase conversions.

SMS messages have a limit of 160 characters and are delivered immediately, often giving the customer a push notification via their mobile phone. For this reason, SMS content is snappy and to the point. Over the holiday season alone, SMS earned 592% higher order rates than email (according to Omnisend), so let’s explore the benefits of SMS for eCommerce.

Benefits of SMS Marketing for eCommerce

SMS campaigns are received instantly

With consumers and millennials heavily reliant on their mobile phones for each aspect of everyday life, SMS campaigns are not only received instantly but also read almost immediately. On average, it takes a recipient 3 minutes to open an SMS which makes SMS the perfect outreach channel if you want to contact a customer about a time-sensitive offer or even an abandoned cart. 


Allows brands to engage with customers at a personal level

In an era where building customer trust and loyalty is more prevalent than ever before, SMS enables brands to engage with customers on a more personal level and forge deeper relationships. Ensure your SMS content is engaging by utilising customer data to stay relevant and conversational.


SMS marketing gets higher engagement

Between short attention spans and the growing number of distractions and competition, customer engagement can be challenging to crack. However, when used correctly, SMS can cut through the noise and capture customers attention, with open rates as high as 98% compared to 20% for email (Gartner).


SMS Marketing Best Practices

Get permission and grow subscribers

Just like email marketing, you must have permission from your customer, and manage to maintain that permission. You can gain permission by adding the option for customers to include their phone number when subscribing to your newsletter or making a purchase.

Be transparent with the customer by telling them what kind of text messages they can expect to hear from you and how they can opt-out with every SMS by including a number they can text ‘STOP’ to.


Run timely effective campaigns

SMS drives much higher engagement than other communication channels, but this does not mean you can send customers anything and everything, whenever you want. Don’t abuse the permission granted to you by overusing SMS. 

An obvious way to send campaigns at optimal times is by respecting your customer’s timezones. Also, take note of any special holidays or seasonal activities when planning your SMS marketing calendar.


Instil a sense of urgency and enable recipients to take action

We know that people tend to open text messages immediately, which is great for brands who want to promote time-sensitive offers and instil a sense of urgency. If you require recipients to take action such as visit your website, make sure this process is as easy as possible for them.

Enable recipients to take action by including a link to a relevant web page. We recommend using branded links like the Mango example below, as they look a lot cleaner and can promote trust and credibility.

Review the performance of each campaign

Carefully reviewing the performance of each campaign will not only give you actionable insights to improve your campaigns but will also help retain subscribers by identifying what they’re engaging with and what they’re not.

Email marketing platform Klaviyo have recently introduced SMS marketing to their capabilities and provide analytics which enables brands to measure performance. Available to all customers, Klaviyo are helping businesses take the experiences created for individual brands to the next level. Find out more about their newest feature here

We suggest combining open rates, CTRs and number of offer redemptions to effectively measure the ROI of each campaign.


As SMS marketing makes a comeback, the state of eCommerce continues to evolve. Sending messages immediately at mass and connecting with customers on a personal level is extremely attractive for retailers, and when done right, can prove a highly effective method of customer outreach. 

Want to cut through the noise and connect with your customers in real-time? Our Performance Marketing team can help you with your SMS strategy and implementation.

The Importance of Testing Across Different Browsers and Devices

A good site to an end-user should just work, whether that user is accessing it from Safari on their iPhone, Microsoft Edge in Windows, Google Chrome on MacOS or Firefox in Linux. Irrespective of the browser they use and on what device or which operating system, the experience should (mostly) be the same and should function based on their needs.

However, achieving this isn’t as simple as just building it, testing once and calling it a day. Each browser works differently and will display a particular site in a slightly varied manner due to various factors. Take the below 2 images as an example:-

The top image is from Google Chrome, the bottom from Firefox, both set to 100% zoom and the same font sizes. For the most part, these appear the same, however, look at the box on the right. In Chrome, the box fits within the height of the screen, meanwhile in Firefox, you need to scroll further down to see the bottom.

This can be attributed to both browsers using different rendering engines. A rendering engine is the part of the browser that takes the HTML and CSS of your website and turns it into something your visitors can understand. Each rendering engine can handle this HTML and CSS in slightly different ways resulting in differing experiences for different users.

Some browsers will render in more or less the same way due to using the same rendering engine, for example, Google Chrome and Microsoft Edge both use Chromium, as a result, they should both process a site in a similar fashion. However, Firefox, as a further example, uses Gecko as it’s rendering engine meaning that it’ll process a site differently from Chrome or Edge.

This is only one aspect in which sites can be handled differently as a result of using a different browser, therefore to ensure the best experience across all browsers, extensive testing must be done to ensure that a site will work as intended across the board, rather than for a specific set of users who may only use a specific browser.



One way of testing a site across different browsers and devices would be to have multiple devices setup with multiple browsers and have our testers test in each one to ensure the correct experience, however, this can be expensive depending on how many devices are required and how many environments they need to run in e.g. do they need to run in every version of Windows from Windows 7 onwards?

BrowserStack is a platform that allows for testing across a range of devices and browsers easily without the need to buy multiple devices to run each possible instance of the environments you need to test. Upon loading BrowserStack, you’re provided the following options:

The options are split into 2, with the left-hand side providing the different environments your browser can run in e.g. Android, iOS, Windows, macOS etc. and the right-hand side providing specific devices, in this case, Android.

Selecting a device (or in the case of a version of Windows or macOS) will give the option of which browser you wish to test your site in. Once selected, BrowserStack then runs a virtual machine, an emulator, or a live device with the selected browser running depending on which environment you’ve picked to test your site. This then allows for testing in a highly accurate use case to ensure a site works as intended and allows for testing across a range of scenarios to ensure high compatibility.

Windows and macOS environments are also customisable to allow for different screen resolutions to see how your site will display depending on the monitor a visitor to a site may use. Mobile devices allow for the orientation to be set so you can see if the site works correctly whether the user is viewing the site in either a landscape or portrait format and all devices can have a custom location set to allow for location-based testing such as correct redirects, currency defaults, product availability and more.

Testing on mobile devices will also frame the environment so it appears as though it’s on the device itself, take the below example:

This screenshot is running on BrowserStack using a Samsung Galaxy S10. As you can see, the environment itself appears as though it’s running on the device, including physical features such as the in-display camera, allowing testers to determine if this may affect the browsing experience by obscuring content and if necessary, enabling developers to ensure this can be compensating for when building the site.

Tools like BrowserStack allow our testers to quickly and easily ascertain whether a bug is with the site itself as a whole, or whether it occurs specifically within one or more browsers or even on a specific device or environment, which then ensures our developers can more easily find the problem and fix it. It allows for highly efficient testing of a site with minimal cost and saves time for our testers who only need one PC to test in any scenario that may be required by the end-user.



Website testing is more complex and involved than it may initially seem and ensuring the best experience for as many end-users as possible can be time-consuming and difficult. Tools such as BrowserStack save testers time and reduce costs by providing as many different testing scenarios as possible using a range of devices, operating systems and web browsers to allow testers to easily determine what could be causing a fault and enabling developers to ensure the site works as intended irrespective of the end-users setup.

If you have any further questions about website testing or need to ensure your site works with a specific device, environment or browser, then be sure to get in touch and speak to one of our experts, who can advise further regarding the best solutions for your testing needs and inform further regarding your testing questions.

If you have any questions about website testing or need to ensure your site works with a specific device, environment or browser, get in touch for further information today!