Inbox Display by Campaign Precheck

Inbox Display: What it is and How it Increases ROI


Allow us to introduce you to Email on Acid’s Inbox Display. You might know this step of the Campaign Precheck workflow as Preheader Text. We made this change because Inbox Display is a more inclusive and accurate description of this step.

What is an Inbox Display?

First things first, let’s cover some particulars:

Is an Inbox Display the same thing as an email envelope?

It is not.

An email envelope contains two addresses: the From: address (person) and the envelope sender (computers).

Think of it like a post office. When a piece of mail is delivered, it has the sender’s return address in the corner and postal markings from its transit. When a piece of mail is en route to an inaccurate address, the mail is then returned to the sender, or in email terms, bounced back. In this instance, the post office is the computer and the sender is, well, the sender.

An inbox display is what your email looks like in a subscriber’s inbox before they even open it. It includes the sender name, subject line and preview text, and is your first and biggest opportunity to motivate the reader to open.

Preview of Campaign Precheck: First impressions are everything, especially in the inbox. It's time to optimize your inbox display

Is the Inbox Display step just to write those three sections?

It is where you create your inbox display copy, but you also get to watch it come to life in the previews right next to it.

The previews include the same 70+ email clients and devices you’ve come to love and rely on. They allow you to see exactly where characters get cut off between devices and clients so you can optimize your message compelling the reader to open.

Example view of building your Inbox Display in the workflow

What makes a good Inbox Display?

The details vary by niche and industry, but there are some high-level guidelines to keep in mind:

Be clear who the sender is

If there’s one thing email users look out for, it’s spammers and frauds. A little creativity is fine but be direct in letting your audience know who the message is coming from. Otherwise, they might mark it as spam.

Give a tidbit about what’s inside

If your message is good enough to email people about, then it’s certainly good enough to brag about in the inbox display. Use the subject line and preheader text to your full advantage and create a cohesive message that inspires, intrigues or entertains to the point where they just have to click (or tap).

Again, use the previews on the right—mobile, desktop and webmail—to polish it up so your message is effectively communicated no matter where someone might encounter it.

Bonus Points for Personalization or Pop Culture

We see personalization a fair amount in email bodies, but less often in preheader text, which makes it one more way to stand out in the Unread folder.

It’s also impressive if you’re able to jump on a trending topic in a way that’s relevant for your brand in order to connect with subscribers and get them to open as well. Take this example from Uncubed, who joined in on the Chase tweet trend almost immediately:

Example of an inbox display on mobile from Uncubed

The only drawback is that the inbox display wasn’t optimized for all devices. On desktop it pulls in social platforms from the footer:

Example of an inbox display on desktop from Uncubed

Why Does This Matter?

Emails face obstacles left and right to get to their destination: spam filters, security, accessibility, etc. Once a message finally hits the inbox, the only part left is getting the reader to actually open it. This is the one element of the whole delivery process you can actually control.

Having an impactful inbox display can improve open rates and therefore engagement and ROI.

This is the first step of Campaign Precheck and the entire Email on Acid workflow because it’s one of the most overlooked parts of an email but also arguably the most important.

Follow these guidelines and you’re already ahead of the game of motivating additional opens.

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Author: Melissa Berdine

Venturing from her DC and NYC roots, Melissa made the trek to Denver. With just her dog and a background of copywriting and editing, she joined Email on Acid as content manager. Melissa is known to friends as an avid cook and music festival enthusiast.

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