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What is an email preheader?

In email marketing, small details can make all the difference when it comes to open rates, read rates, and, by extension, conversions. An example of such a detail is your email preheader. Let’s quickly break down what email preheaders are, what you should know about them, and how you can use them to your advantage in your email marketing.

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What is an email preheader? How do email preheaders add value to a campaign? Email preheaders work alongside subject lines
Email preheaders can improve deliverability
Email preheaders improve campaign success
How to write an effective email preheader Avoid repetition
Use imperatives
Create a sense of urgency
Personalize the experience
5. Be succinct
Summary

What is an email preheader?

The email preheader is a small snippet of text that appears in an email user’s inbox when they receive your message. It appears in the small window allocated to each received message, following the sender name and email subject line.

Typically, an email preheader includes a very brief summary of the content of the email in question.

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How do email preheaders add value to a campaign?

Email preheaders play an important role in the success of an email marketing campaign because they influence several important metrics, as well as the way your organization is perceived by recipients.

1. Email preheaders work alongside subject lines

Since recipients can see preheaders without having to actually click on an email, they give recipients an idea of what your message is about. In this way, preheaders share some similarities with subject lines. However, there remains an important difference.

While subject lines describe the general topic of a message and serve to inform, preheaders hint at how you intend to approach that topic and serve to pique the reader’s interest. That means that two messages with the same subject line could be received entirely differently depending on their preheaders. Moreover, the inverse is also true.

So, as an email marketer, it’s important that you use email preheaders to give your recipients some meaningful insight into who you are and what you’re trying to achieve.

2. Email preheaders can improve deliverability

For email marketers, deliverability is, perhaps, the most important metric of all because it directly impacts conversions. Email preheaders have an important role to play here because they enable users to understand something about the sender at a glance.

In cases where senders do not create specific email preheaders, they are often generated automatically from the first text found within the email. This can result in an email that looks unappealing or even untrustworthy, leading to spam complaints from recipients.

By the same token, it is immediately apparent to users when a sender has invested time in carefully crafting an email preheader. This goes a long way toward creating a perception of professionalism and trustworthiness, reducing the risk of spam complaints and improving your overall deliverability.

3. Email preheaders improve campaign success

As previously mentioned above, an email preheader provides recipients with important information that helps form their first impression about a message’s sender and its content. Needless to say, this has a very real impact on open rates.

If the content of your email is as consistent and well-crafted as that of its preheader, this will boost the overall success of your email marketing campaign by driving click rates and conversions through CTA (Call to Action) buttons.

How to write an effective email preheader

Having established the importance of coming up with an engaging and effective preheader, let’s look at some best practices involved in their creation.

1. Avoid repetition

It may sound obvious, but the importance of differentiating your preheader from your subject line cannot be overstated. Repeating the same information in both looks uninteresting to recipients and wastes a valuable opportunity for you to communicate with your subscribers. Instead, you should use the space provided as a chance to add extra information that further enriches the recipient’s experience and entices them to engage with your message.

2. Use imperatives

Calls to action are fundamental to the success of email marketing campaigns since they convert interest into desired responses (such as a sale or lead). So, it follows that you should include a CTA in your preheader, and this can be done using instructional imperative forms. If you want your subscribers to do something, you should tell them. Marketing can be surprisingly straightforward sometimes.

3. Create a sense of urgency

Even when subscribers are interested in what you do and intrigued by the topic put forward in your subject line, they may still need a slight nudge to perform a desired action. Achieve this by creating a feeling of urgency within your email preheader. Mentioning a limited offer, for example, can spark subscribers’ fear of missing out (FOMO) and jolt them into action.

4. Personalize the experience

Modern email users understand that masses of generic emails are sent out worldwide every day, and they have little, if any, interest in reading them. They want email content that is relevant to them, and your preheader should reflect that you intend to provide that. A simple touch, such as personalizing an email preheader by including the recipient’s name, can be surprisingly effective.

5. Be succinct

The point of an email preheader is to capture a reader’s attention and stimulate their curiosity so that they open your email. That means that clarity and brevity are extremely important. Try to distill your message down into its most potent form. That way, you can make the strongest impression.

Moreover, being concise in your preheader has the added benefit of enabling people to read it in full on more platforms and devices. Typically, preheaders in the region of approximately 30 – 90 characters can be seen in full on mobile and desktop alike.

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Summary

Email preheaders are an important part of email marketing, giving recipients an all-important first impression of you as a sender. Keeping the importance of preheaders in mind and following email preheader best practices will help you ensure that your email marketing campaign gets off on the right foot.

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