Your Preheader Text Could Be the Most Important Part of the Body of Your Email

Lots of marketers use preheader text, meaning those words that appear at the very top of the email, above any banner or heading. But that text is typically dull and dry, asking to be added to the recipient’s address book. Or they link to a web-based version of the email. Bleh. That won’t make anyone open your email.

Clever email marketers fit a lot into their preheader text. In a way, it’s like multitasking. They ask to be added to the Safe Senders list. They offer a link to a web-based version with images. They have a Forward-to-a-Friend link. And they sell.

There are best practices for preheader text. But before we get into how, here are four reasons why preheader text matters in email marketing:

  • Preview panes: Remember that people look first at the From line, then the Subject line, then at the Preview Pane when deciding whether to open your email
  • Image blocking: Your preheader text might be all they see in the Preview Pane
  • Mobile devices: On that tiny screen, your preheader text has a huge job!
  • Snippet text: In Outlook 2007, Gmail and the iPhone, the beginning of your preheader text is displayed following the Subject Line

But the number one reason is you must do everything you can to convince someone to open your email and discover the gems it contains, gems they’ll want to act on.

Before you start writing it, first, determine the goal of your preheader text. Your goal might be forwards, getting added to the safe senders list, encouraging opens by picking up where the subject line left off, getting them to a web page so the recipient can see the images, or to a version optimized for mobile. You can do more than one in your preheader area, but you want to prioritize to make sure your most important text is emphasized.

If you thought writing a short enough subject line was hard, now you get to tackle your preheader text, where you face the temptation of just one more word because you have just a little more space. Although your text is small, you don’t want to cram too much into your preheader text, or that jumble will get missed rather than noticed. Try to limit it to one or two lines, and make sure you check to see how it’s rendering in different email clients.

Formatting becomes crucial with preheader text. You’ll want to make sure to maximize your use of that little tiny space, so play with the formatting and check to see how the email renders in different clients. What allows you the most text while keeping the text readable? Chances are it’s not centered text. And don’t waste precious real estate with spacing between the lines of text.

Successful email marketing ROI is achieved by refining and testing, then refining and testing more. Preheader text is one more piece of the email marketing puzzle that you can continue to improve to improve your overall results.


– Marco Marini
ClickMail Marketing