Email Marketing

Email Preheader Best Practices for Improving Your Open Rates

5 minutes

Email Preheader Best Practices for Improving Your Open Rates

Three seconds — seems like nothing important can happen in the blink of an eye, but it’s enough time for a user to decide whether to open your email or not. There are three major elements which influence that choice:

  1. Sender name (The Who).
  2. Subject line (The What).
  3. Preheader text (The Why).

In this article, we’ll focus on “The Why” aspect; in particular, we’ll explain how to increase your open rates by improving the preheader text and show you some examples of best practices for email preheader.

What is an email preheader?

An email preheader, or a preview text, is a snippet of text pulled in from the body of your email and typically shown up right after a subject line in the subscribers’ inboxes.

email preheader desktop view
Email preheader in Gmail desktop app

A perfect email preheader length is about 50 symbols. Considering that 75% of consumers use mobile devices more often than desktop to check their inbox, it’s good to know that the length of a preheader may be shorter on mobile. For example, that’s how the preview text we showed above looks like on the iPhone Gmail app:

email preheader mobile view
Email preheader in the Gmail mobile app

What’s more, the email preheader length limit is usually different for every email client and device.

Email preheader length limit

email preheader length
Source: Litmus

Email preheader best practices

To write a good email preheader, do not hesitate to look through different real-life examples, compare them, and define the copywriting strategies that best serve your needs.

But first, let’s see why you need to care about your preheaders so much:

  • they play the role of a brief summary or a description of the email content;
  • they highlight the most important information stored in the email;
  • they expand the subject line;
  • most importantly, they attract users’ attention and encourage them to open an email.

24% of email recipients actually read preheaders to understand if they want to open an email or not. Overall, emails with a preheader have 18% higher open rates compared to the ones without. Those are good reasons to learn some email preheader best practices.

Support the subject line

As we mentioned, preheaders can guarantee higher open rates, if used wisely of course. To engage users, don’t miss a chance to expand the meaning of your subject line. For example, without the preheader, this subject line from Nadine Barzler doesn’t give enough information for a user to get interested and open the email:

email subject line example
Nadine Burzler email subject line

It becomes clear only when we add a preheader:

email preheader example
Nadine Burzler calling users to upgrade to a premium plan

Call users to action

Put a strong call to action in the subject line and create a sense of urgency right away in your preheader. For example, Buca di Beppo started announcing the discount and providing a short CTA and finished up with a more detailed call to action in the preview.

email preheader example
Email preheader example from Buca di Beppo

Use subscribers’ names

Personalization remains the key to success in email marketing, so why not make your preheaders personalized? The simplest way to a little bit more personalized approach is to include a customer’s name as you may find in this example from Daily Page.

email preheader example
Personalized email preheader from Daily Page

Include numbers

The Psychology of Waiting Lines pointed out an interesting finding. While in a line, people who know exactly how much time it’s going to take until their turn, experience less anxiety than those who don’t have any idea of the waiting time. This means that people do need certainty. Use this technique in your email preheaders to show people what to expect, and they will be more likely to open, click, and engage with your emails.

email preheader example
Email preheader with numbers from Glovo

Ask questions

Include a question relevant to your audience right in the preheader to appeal to people’s emotions and awake curiosity. Just keep in mind that you should always answer that question in the email body.

email preheader example
Examples of questions used in a preheader

Add a little teaser

Motivate subscribers to open your emails by adding some really valuable information in the preheader. For example, Victoria Secret announced a nice discount for students as a teasing bonus.

email preheader example
A preheader example from Victoria’s Secret

Be attentive to details

Make sure your recipients don’t have any misunderstandings and you deliver all the information in a clear and easy-to-comprehend way.

Try to remember these simple recommendations:

  1. Pay attention to your word order and the length of your email preheader, so that important information is not cut off.
  2. Make sure that the text of the preheader matches the content of the email. If you talk about free delivery in the preheader, this information must be mentioned in the body of the email.
  3. Don’t confuse users with click-bait as this can lead to losing their trust, having increased spam complaint rate, and, eventually, low sender reputation.

Email preheader mistakes to avoid

Email preheader text takes up a lot of space in a mailbox. That’s another reason why it’s important to use that space wisely and avoid the following biggest taboos:

1. “View in browser” preheader text that usually appears by default. In this case, you are losing valuable space which could be used for a bold call to action or some details on the content of your email.

email preheader mistake
Example of a default preheader

2. Text from the first sentences of an email body which doesn’t make any sense. If your preheader repeats the first line of your email, it may confuse your users or even look messy.

email preheader mistake
Example of a preheader with the first line of an email body

3. Same trite text that you use in your every preheader. In the example below, the subject line and the preheader are absolutely the same in every email, and at first glance, you can’t even see the difference between these two emails.

email preheader mistake
Example of preheaders with the same text

So, when you have a chance to attract your users with one more line of text, you should definitely use it.

4. Text repeating a subject line. This mistake is another way to lose precious preheader space. For instance, in the email below, instead of simply repeating the subject line, they could add some details about flight destinations to engage users who are interested in some particular routes.

email preheader mistake
Example of a preheader that repeats the subject line

5. Text repeating the meaning of a subject line but in other words. When we say “use preheader space wisely,’’ we mean that you should be creative and add some new information instead of repeating the content of your subject line.

email preheader mistake
Example of a preheader repeating the subject line in other words

6. Unsubscribe text. If you are looking for ideas of what to write in your preheader, get inspired by the content of your email and never offer users to unsubscribe from your emails right away. Don’t dig the hole for yourself.

email preheader mistake
Example of a preheader with the unsubscribe text

Brief summary

When it comes to preheaders, do your best to use this space wisely and include valuable information which can improve your open rates.

To reach the best results, try the following best practices for email preheaders:

  • limit the number of characters for your preheader to be displayed correctly on all devices;
  • write personalized preheaders that trigger emotions and make people feel curious;
  • experiment with approaches — use questions, numbers, CTAs, teasers, and other techniques — to make sure your emails don’t get boring and always bring something new.

To start implementing your ideas right now, sign up for SendPulse and enjoy our comfortable drag-and-drop email builder, segmentation options, free templates, and other handy email marketing tools.

Date of publication:

14 May. 2019

Daria Stratovich

Being always on the road, I consider myself a thrill-seeking traveler. I draw inspiration from fresh experiences and meeting new...

1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars
Average Rating: 5/5
Total Votes: 33