First Things First – What are Preheaders?
A preheader is the short text snippet or summary text that directly follows the subject line when an email is previewed in an email client. Many desktop, web and mobile email clients provide them to give the recipient a little more information, before they open the email.
Below is an example from my Gmail spam folder. (FYI: Most spammers don’t use preheaders)
You’ll notice above, none of these emails have preheaders, although some have additional text showing after the subject line. Normally, this additional text shown after the subject line is the first text found in the email body of the email creative, only if preheaders are not used. When an email creative is primarily images or simply image based with no text, only the subject line will be shown. On mobile or smartphones in particular, the preheader can mean the difference between someone opening your email or trashing it. Adding text that explains a summary of your offering or a brief explanation of what the email is about is a good idea for the preheader. What’s the point of the text after your subject line showing “Not rendering correctly? View this email as a webpage here”? There is no point.
Most mobile users will scan their inbox to see what’s interesting and what emails should be trashed. You basically have about 3-4 seconds to entice a user to read your email. Adding a preheader will increase your chances of getting a recipient to open your email.
Using dynamic preheaders is also another option. This is where the text or preheader is custom tailored to the individual receiving the email. Don’t overload the preheader with too much information. Remember, you’re not selling in the subject line. All you are trying to do is entice a user to open your email and read what it is you’re trying to tell them or sell them.
You should test different scenarios using preheaders in your email marketing campaigns. Not everyone will use preheaders the same way. Strategically designing your preheader to entice opens and give your user a call to action, is the best plan of attack.
The Bottom Line
Preheaders are valuable real estate in a user’s inbox. Use this space wisely and it will have a huge impact on your opens rates and ROI.