In 2015 the use of emojis, or digital picture characters, in marketing increased by 777% and the trend only continues as we progress through 2016.

The saying ‘a picture is worth a thousand words’ can help explain why emojis are so successful. First, there is an increasing need to communicate in fewer characters. Research shows successful organizations communicate online messages in less than 40 words. For perspective, this is less than the normal length of a tweet. Consumers also connect with brands through emotions, emojis can emulate feelings and by doing so they connect with consumers on that emotional level.

Since the introduction of emojis, we’ve been watching results and shaping best practices. Our advice can be summarized in one primary tactic: A/B Test Your Results.

Surprisingly the highest increase in emoji use last year was in email marketing. Testing emoji use in email copy and refining the tone and voice of company emails will help drive leads and impact sales results. To A/B test emails, try two similar subject lines or email body text to test a number of hypotheses about emojis. By testing which email has higher results, strategies can be informed and refined.

Emojis can also be tested on social media and the text of online ads. In all cases we suggest testing two similar messages and isolating the use of emojis, the kind of emojis used and their placement. Brands that connect with the feelings of consumers in their communications will have an edge and emojis can be an important tool for those looking to represent emotions in few characters.