5 Steps to the Perfect Email Preheader

JJ TysonRemarketing

5 Steps to the Perfect Preheader

When we discuss optimizing email marketing, we often turn our attention to subject lines rather than email preheaders.

While they’re often overlooked, preheaders are a valuable tool. They provide additional space to effectively communicate why users should engage with your email.

Though subject lines are often the first to grab a user’s attention, the preheader can create a perfect one-two punch that increases open rates, and by extension, click throughs and conversions.

What is Email Preheader Text?

Preheader text is the short piece of text that is displayed next to the subject line within a user’s inbox.  Preheader text occasionally appears at the top of an email –  however this is largely dependent on the user’s email provider. 

While the subject line is the first opportunity to grab the user’s attention, the preheader offers a free second chance. It allows you to provide a short summary of whats to come in your email. And, with preheader text, you nearly double the amount of virtual “real estate” your message gets in a user’s inbox. 

If you don’t intentionally create preheader text, the preview text is populated by the first sentences of the email. 

Unfortunately, many preheader captions look like this.

Preheader text example

Most emails are going to contain graphics – so why use up the small area you have to offer unnecessary clarification?

Instead, you can use this line of text to build a better email campaign and more effectively engage the users on your email list.

5 Characteristics of an Effective Email Preheader

So now that we know why preheaders are important, let’s discuss 5 attributes of a high quality, engaging preheader.

1. Each Character Counts: Keep it Concise

When crafting a preheader, your first concern should be space. Preheaders need to be viewable on both desktop and mobile devices – in fact, research shows that nearly half of emails are now opened on mobile devices. 

Although viewable characters vary by email platform, it’s usually safe to assume that users can see between 40 and 100 characters, including spaces.

The safest bet is sticking to the low end of this threshold and front-loading important information. In general, the shorter and snappier your preheader is, the better.

2. Cohesive Messaging: Coincide With Your Subject Line

Consider the preheader text an extension of the subject line; the two should complement one another. Preheaders create a second chance to connect with the user and convince them that your message deserves to be read.

In addition, email subject lines are supposed to be short – so preheader text is an opportunity to expand on content that was sacrificed for an optimized subject line length.

Preheader with cohesive messaging

In the example above, Urban Outfitters doesn’t miss a beat. The subject line offers a pithy, eye-catching headline, and is complemented by the the preheader’s call to action.

When using call to actions in your preheader,  it is important that your subject line and preheader work together to create a cohesive message to inform and persuade.

For example, if your email is informing users of an exclusive deal, using a call to action in the preheader can be highly effective. “Shop now” or “get it while it lasts” elicits action and even creates urgency.

3. Creative Language: Make the Preheader Enticing

Remember, the email preheader is a second opportunity to engage your customer. Avoid repetition. When viewed in an inbox, the subject line and preheader text accompany one another, so don’t misuse this inbox space by repeating the subject line. Give the user a reason to click through.

Preheader with creative messaging

Uber does a great job of driving their message home. Without repetition, their preheader assists the subject line while clarifying the intent of the message.

Even though the preheader length is slightly over the limit, Uber is careful to front-load the most enticing information first.

4. Personalization: Include Customer Details

If the subject line didn’t include personalization, take advantage of the preheader to engage the customer.

Our minds more readily recognize our own name more than other text. Grab your customer’s eye with their own name or utilize geographical details. Personalization can make your email stand out in a generic inbox.

Preheader with personalized messaging

Sephora reiterates their subject line message in the preheader, but adds personalization by including the customer’s first name.

5. Emojis: Add Humor

Placing an emoji in the preview text can be a lighthearted, engaging addition to your message. As always, ensure that any emoji usage aligns with your brand’s identity and A/B test for success.

If you are unsure about employing emoji’s in your email subject line, the email preheader can be a great warmup destination. Its also a great place to add humor. When used appropriately, humor increases customer engagement.

Put Your Email Preheader to the Test

Now it’s time to take advantage of the space you occupy in an inbox. In your email development process remember that the subject line and preheader work together to provide information about the value of your email. 

Ultimately, remember your objective: getting your emails opened. Align your text with your brand’s identity, know who your audience is and A/B test different ideas to find the preheader text that works for you. 

Looking for More Ways to Increase Your Conversions?

Check out UpSellit’s 27 Attributes of an Effective Email. This in-depth guide covers the ins-and-outs of crafting the perfect remarketing email. It’s a great resource and it’s totally free! Download it today and start writing awesome emails that convert.

New call-to-action