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Is your preheader letting you down?

Ok, so what do we know about email preheaders?

  • They’re the text that appear at the very top of your email above even your header image.
  • They’re the very first thing readers see after opening your email.
  • They display in all email clients even when images don’t.
  • They appear in Outlook Desktop Alerts when your email arrives in the inbox.
  • They appear as an extension to the subject line in Gmail.
  • They read well on mobile devices.

Sounds like preheaders are pretty powerful right?

In fact, preheaders are now sometimes referred to as “super subject lines” because of the impact they can have on recipient’s behaviour.

So why then do so many email marketers waste this space in their emails?

Traditionally, the preheader has been reserved for instructions on how to view the email online or as a mobile friendly version. Another popular use is instructions to add the sender to a safe sender list for whitelisting.

Now don’t get me wrong. These are all great practices and I think you should continue to do them. But there’s also an opportunity for your preheader to be so much more. When you consider that everything in your email should contribute to a positive experience for your subscribers, restricting your preheader to traditional practices has some modern day shortcomings.

Take this preheader as an example:

Pre-header example

 Pre-header example 2
View the full email.

This email from the Entertainment Book uses the preheader solely to provide instructions for viewing the email online. Whilst these instructions make sense once you’ve opened the email, they’re completely out of place here in the preview pane. This is where all your effort as an email marketer should go into getting the email opened.

Therefore, this preheader would have been far more effective if it included the incentive for providing feedback. They actually offered a $50 voucher, so a more powerful preheader would have been:

Win $50 by telling us what you think.

And if they hyperlinked the “telling us what you think text”, it would have been ideal for anyone viewing the email without images or on a mobile device as they would have seen straight away where to click for the main call to action.

The lesson here I think is to test numerous approaches to you preheader across the lifecycle of your subscribers. For example, the preheader in your welcome email to new subscribers might ask them to add you to their safe sender list. But this loses relevance in subsequent emails as hopefully subscribers have now acted on your request.

So how are you using preheaders in your emails? If they’re not adding value to you or your subscribers then maybe it’s time for a change.

MattPosted by:
Matthew Johnson
EDM Specialist

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