Email Preheader Tips For More Effective Campaigns

Find out how the effective use of your Email Preheader can help you improve your email campaign open rates, get closer to customers and drive business.

Email Preheader Best Practice Tips PC Screen

You've built an impressive email marketing list and constructed a beautiful email. It contains engaging content and enticing offers. You know the contacts in your database will love it. There's just one problem: when you send the campaign, hardly anyone opens it!

The biggest challenge with email marketing is getting people to open your messages. Two important considerations in overcoming this are your email’s subject line and preheader text. In this article, we will focus on the preheader, sometimes called 'preview text'.

What Is A Preheader?

The word 'preheader' is a bit of a misnomer because it comes after the main header - or subject line - for your email. It is the small line of text that appears underneath the subject line when you see an email in your inbox. Depending on the device they are using and their inbox settings, the amount of preview text users see will vary. Multiple lines of preheader text may be visible for some users.

The preheader is one of the first things readers see when your email arrives. This vital piece of copy gives you the chance to capture your reader's interest immediately. It could determine whether your reader opens your email or deletes it.

A boring preheader that fails to entice the reader could mean a waste of all your hard work in crafting the perfect email campaign. Not using a preheader is also a missed opportunity to add value to your email. In contrast, an interesting preheader should make readers want to open your email to find out more.

So, for the best chance of boosting your email open rates and setting your campaign up for success, make sure you include a preheader.

Best Practice Tips For Preheaders

If you want to write the best email preheader text, there are a few best practices to follow. It's worth taking the time to come up with a suitable preheader for each email campaign. The good news is, they are pretty straightforward to construct.

1. Make It Personal

Personalised emails are proven to give greater response rates and an improved user experience. Personalising your preheader is a great way to catch a reader's eye. When your email arrives it's likely to be jostling for attention in their inbox. Including your recipient's name in the preheader immediately gives your email more credibility. It's less likely to be dismissed as a generic marketing email or spam.

The ability to personalise emails is an important factor for TaxAssist Accountants who have been using the Smart Messenger email marketing system for many years. Find out more about how they benefit from this feature in our TaxAssist Email Marketing Case Study.

It's easy to personalise your preheader using email marketing software like Smart Messenger. You do this by inserting contact data merge tags in your preheader where you want the data to appear. For example, you might want to start your preheader like this:

Hi {?$contacts_first_name?}

With this example, the merge tag will display the data from the corresponding field in your contact list - in this case, the first name.

Personalisation is a powerful tool in your email marketing kit. It helps you develop stronger relationships that could drive future business. For this reason, it's a good idea to review how you capture data and the type of data you collect. If you use sign-up forms, include boxes for the person's name as well as their email address. Likewise, if you collect data in other ways, ensure you record your contacts' names in your spreadsheet or CRM system. In this way, you will be able to connect better with your readers via future email campaigns. For more ideas to grow your email list, take a look at our tips for how to get more sign-ups to your email list.

When storing or processing personal data, always remember your data protection obligations and handle data with care. At Smart Messenger, we have trained data protection specialists who provide free guidance on this topic to clients.  For an informal, no-obligation chat about your needs, call us on 01603 858250.

2. Size Matters

Keeping your preheader to the right length is an important consideration. There are no hard and fast rules for character count but the content should be concise and to the point. But don't make the preheader so short it's meaningless. And don't include so much information that there's no reason to open the email!

In some situations, you may want to make your preheader longer. For example, if you need to summarise some important news or product offering. Or you may want to pose a question to your readers via the preheader. With longer preview text, position the most important content at the start of your copy. That way, it will be visible whether the email arrives on a desktop or mobile device.

If you have a simpler message, a short preheader may be enough to capture your readers' attention.

Use the test feature of your email marketing service to try different ideas for your email preheader. View your test emails on different email platforms including desktop and web email clients, as well as various devices. Check how the preheader displays and adjust it as needed for the most impact.

3. Keep It Simple

Your message will be competing for attention amongst a lot of other emails. For this reason, make sure the preheader is succinct and engaging. This will give your reader more chance of noticing it when scanning their mailbox.

Rambling preheaders that disappear off the edge of the reader's inbox before making their point are likely to miss the mark. Take some time to think through different ideas for your preheader. Use the test function in your email marketing software to see what looks best.

4. Split Testing

If you can't decide between two (or more) great preheader ideas you can try split-testing your campaign. A split test allows you to send the same campaign to equal portions of your database, but with variations to the email template. To compare the effectiveness of two preheaders, you could send an identical email to different halves of your database. The only change would be that you'd use a different preheader for each. Your email marketing system’s campaign report will tell you which preheader generated the most opens. You can take what you learn and apply this to your next campaign. Split testing is generally only worthwhile if you have a large database to provide a meaningful comparison.

Split testing is easier to set up than you might imagine and at Smart Messenger, all our clients receive free ongoing phone support as part of their subscription service. This means we are always on hand to explain how to take advantage of the system's features and provide guidance on how to get the most from this functionality.

Content Ideas For Preheaders

1. Calls To Action

Your preheader can be a great place to include a call to action (CTA). Readers will have more reason to open your email if they know an interesting opportunity awaits.

 Ideas for CTAs include:

  • Highlight how to access early booking for a special event
  • Highlight how to take benefit from a forthcoming promotion
  • Highlight how to get business insights, eg via a white paper
  • Highlight how to be the first to get hold of something eg a new product

2. Incentives

A carefully crafted preheader will encourage your reader to open your email. Especially if it contains a teaser for an incentive contained inside the email!

If your email contains a coupon code, early-bird promotion or other offer, why not mention it in the preheader? Just be cautious about the words you use and keep the tone low-key. You don't want spam filters to stop your email from getting through.

3. Summarise Your Content

Another good use for the preheader is to provide an enticing snapshot of your email's content. Along with an engaging subject line, a short summary of the content in the preheader can give your reader a compelling reason to open your email. Ensure the preheader is well-written, concise and the summary text is relevant to the recipient.

You will need to find a balance between summarising the content and leaving enough unsaid that your reader wants to open the email to find out more. The goal is to get them to open your email as that’s when they will be able to interact with your calls to action.

If you're stuck for email content ideas, check out our blog which offers guidance on what to write about in your email marketing campaigns.

How To Add A Preheader

With most email marketing systems, adding a preheader is straightforward. It's particularly simple with Smart Messenger. The preheader or 'preview text' box appears as part of the email template. It takes only a few moments to add your content. If required, system users can insert data merge tags for personalisation and we usually recommend that approach if our clients have the necessary data.

Smart Messenger is easy to use and all clients receive free training when they come onboard, as well as ongoing phone support. Email marketing plans start at £10 per month, inclusive of support.

Make The Most of Preheaders

In conclusion, the preheader is a vital part of any email campaign you create, so try to put it to good use. The content of your preview text will vary from campaign to campaign. It’s your choice what to write and the content will depend on the audience, the purpose of the email and your objectives in sending it.

Just be sure to include something in your preheader. Even in its simplest form, this feature can improve your campaign open rates and encourage more people to open your emails with very little effort on your part.

About Smart Messenger

Launched in 2003, Smart Messenger is a professional, easy-to-use, UK-based email marketing service solution for businesses of all sizes. Our friendly experts are always at the end of the phone, ready to provide clients with the support they need to get the most from their campaigns.

We like to get to know our clients so we can provide tailored advice. This could include ideas for email preheaders and support with personalisation. We also show clients how to use the built-in reporting system to quickly see which campaigns and approaches are most successful.

Request a Smart Messenger demo today and take a step closer to getting the tools and support you need to take your campaigns to the next level, whether you’re an experienced marketer or just starting out with email marketing.

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