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Email Marketing

5 Preheader Text Ideas to Increase Your Email Effectiveness

Email On Acid

“Having trouble viewing this email? Click here to view it in a web browser.”

No doubt you’ve seen this phrase at the top of hundreds, if not thousands of email messages. However, you don’t want this to be the first thing after your subject line that your audience reads.

With 93 billion marketing emails being sent each day, the battle for attention in the inbox is real. In fact, approximately 35% of email recipients report that they open an email based on subject line alone.

Real Simple, one of my favorite magazines, misses the mark by a long shot with this subject line + preheader text combination.



Given the information I see in my inbox, I don’t have a compelling reason to open this email. I can’t even tell where I might be able to win a trip to.

Wasting preheader space with “having trouble viewing this email” is a huge mistake. Just repeating your subject line text isn’t winning you any points either.



Again, this subject line + preheader text combination from Road Runner Sports doesn’t really persuade me to open the email, which is unfortunate because their emails often contain personalized suggestions and deals based on my past purchases. But I have no way of knowing that from my inbox view.

Preheader text allows you an average of 50-100 characters to use in conjunction with your subject line to convince someone to open your email. So, make the most of it!

Here are a few ways to maximize your preheader space to increase your email opens and even engagement:

Content overview

Use your preheader to give a quick summary or overview of the content contained in your email. NOVICA does a great job of this with their preheader text below. The subject line tells me a huge sale is going on, but I see from the preheader text that the sale includes jewelry, clothing, accessories and handbags (the 10% off mention doesn’t hurt, either!).

Subject line elaboration

Make your subject line and preheader text one cohesive message. Think about it: By including your preheader text, you double the amount of space you have to compel your reader to open the email you’ve sent.

In this Priceline.com example, the subject line and preheader text work together to tell me that there are great deals available and reassuring me that I’ll be able to see a number of things about the hotel I choose before I book it.

Incentive teaser

Does your email include a special offer? Let your audience know in the preheader text what awaits them upon opening the email.



Here, One Kings Lane tells me about a number of deals available in their email and the structure of the preheader text statement—90% off, 85% off, 80% off—makes me wonder what other deals are included inside the email.

The Honest Company also does a nice job of referencing a non-sale related incentive in their preheader text:

Personalized message

Subject line personalization has been shown to increase email open and conversion rates, and it’s reasonable to believe that the same would be true of personalized preheader text. Tailor your message and catch a reader’s eye by using their name in your preheader message, like Nextdoor did below.



But, as with all personalization, make sure your data is accurate or you’ll wind up doing this:



My name isn’t Pamela, and emails from SiriusXM typically receive a swift right swipe because of this error.

Fun, engaging copy

Do something different to catch your reader’s eye and entice them to open your email. Tell a joke that they have to open the email to complete (one so good, you know they’ll open it). Use emojis to stand out from rows and rows of text. Or, like in the example below, include the name or a sing-able line to a popular song.



PetCareRx does a really nice job with this subject line + preheader text combination. They’ve personalized the message (with my dog’s name, Fenway), let me know about the 75% off discount being offered and referenced the classic Baha Men earworm, Who Let the Dogs Out.

What works best for you?

What techniques are you using in your email preheader text? Have you found a particular formula to increase opens and conversions? Let us know in the comment section below!

About the Author

Tanya Wheeler-Berliner

Tanya Wheeler-Berliner

A lifelong word nerd with a background in communications, public relations and marketing, Tanya spends her days debating hyphenation rules and extolling the benefits of the Oxford comma.

Join the Discussion

Thanks Tanya, and yep, drives me nuts to see sooooo many emails in my inbox where they've clearly spent lots of money on great design etc and then just waste the prime-space of the pre-header text.

Just as a PS, we had a client that was trying to feed the subject line into the pre-header text, ie as a direct continuation of it, but we'd advise against this as not only can't you control the number of characters displayed in either part (obviously both vary by device, portrait/landscape mode, font-size & type etc), but in many mobiles the order (and prominence) with which they're displayed is a user-editable option - so for some recipients they'd be reading the end of the combined message before the 1st part!

PPS Bet Fenway didn't think that a Frontline Plus was much of a treat! wink
Dennis
found that massive boost in open rate when we did this... It's the final countdown - subjectline and preheader text - It's nearly finished, just a few... - got a 67% open rate - which never seen before, whether its the subjectline and preheader text who knows... but defo worth adding it...
paul
Is there a simple way to check what my preheader text is for my outgoing emails?
Bob
@Bob - It will just be the first textual content of the email, but if your first content is an image, it will use the alt-text of that instead. To physically check it, you can always send a copy to yourself and view it via your mobile in the inbox view, or in any other client (including Outlook) that displays it.
Dennis

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