The Secret Power of Email Preheader: DOs and DON’Ts

A mobile phone featuring a contact form integrated with the power of email preheader.

35% of email recipients open emails based solely on the subject lines. 7 out of 10 customers mark messages as spam based on information seen without opening the email.

A subject line and the preheader are like Batman and Robin – this inseparable duo works together and is a crucial element for your email campaign success.

Keep reading and learn about the peculiarities of email preheader: what to mention in this short text snippet, the best length, and inspiration ideas.

So let’s start.

What Is Email Preheader?

Email preheader is a snippet of text that follows the subject line of your emails and can make all the difference between an opened email or a deleted one.

Also known as the Johnson Box or preview text, the email preheader can be displayed next to the subject line or underneath it. It mostly depends on the device and which email service they are opened on.

By default, this line of text is taken from the first text found in the email campaign, but you can set custom email preheader which would make more sense and elaborate on your subject line. It has to intrigue your readers and make them want to know what’s inside the received email.


What Is the Best Email Preheader Length?

There are no strict rules on how long the preheader should be. Usually, email service providers recommend sticking to 50-100 characters. However, on some mobile devices, you won’t be able to see all 100 characters. That’s why we say it should fit the 30-80 gap.

Plus, when the preheader is short, you leave some space around your email in the crowded inbox and that helps you stand out. See an example of Merce&Me and Pierrebuy below:


10 Email Preheader Best Practices: DOs and DON’Ts

Like the best subject lines, preheaders don’t have any unified success formula. It always depends on many factors, some of which you can’t even control.

However, by analyzing large email samples, email service providers can identify some effective and ineffective patterns. We’ll call them best practices.


So first of all, a few things that you shouldn’t do are:

  1. Don’t ignore email preheader.
  2. Don’t repeat the same text as in the subject line.

Email preheader is your second chance to convince an email recipient to open your email. Don’t waste it by repeating the same things twice or even skipping that part when building your campaign. Think thoroughly about what words will make a difference between a read email and an archived one.


3. Include an incentive teaser

If you use a preheader you can be more original with subject lines. For example, you can use a very brief subject line and reveal the offer in the preheader.


4. Provide a quick summary of the email content

In the preheader, you may also list the products that are on sale or newly arrived. Many retailers include brand names of products on sale, etc.

  1. Flash sale! Party dresses, shoes, accessories, handbags on sale.
  2. Run Your Story The latest running shoes from New Balance

5. Elaborate on the subject line

I honestly recommend you to go “all in” with your subject line and preheader. Initially reveal all the best parts of your campaign. Otherwise, it might remain unseen.

  1. Hot deals from $15 In addition, get free shipping within 3 days
  2. Rent an apartment in San Diego only for $50 Safe neighborhood, close to the city center

6. Use FOMO

Nowadays fear of missing out is powerful as never before. Use it to your advantage. For example:

Going-Out Dresses of Limited edition has just arrived Get yours while they are in stock

7. Let emojis do their job

If only emojis fit your brand communication they should be used in your subject lines and preheaders. They help your email stand out, get more attention, convey email emotion, etc. This macro-tool shouldn’t be underestimated. Read more about emojis in the subject lines.

See the example below. Depositphotos grabs your attention immediately, right?


8. Try an A/B Test for your subject line and preheader combinations

Use A/B Testing to find the perfect results for your subscribers

A/B testing is always a good idea. It helps you get know your audience better:

  • what kind of discounts (%, $) get more email opens,
  • if emojis work or not
  • whether your audience is more into exclusive stuff or massive sales, etc.

9. Personalize the message

Some brands see a significant increase in open rates when using personalization. However, sometimes it might seem awkward at receiving a bulk email with your name in it. So the line between these two opposite reactions is very thin but you can definitely try it in one of your A/B tests.

10. Be concise

When it comes to subject lines and preheaders, there’s no need to break out your thesaurus.

What you need actually to do is be concise: short, sweet, and straight to the point.

Email subscribers will only give you a second of their attention, so you have to make sure you’re grabbing their interest immediately. See the bad and the good example below:

If you wait too long, you won’t be able to get free shipping on our new fall line Hurry up to make your order
Don’t Hesitate: Get Free Shipping on New Fall Line ⏰ The Offer Ends at Midnight

How the Preheader Looks in Inboxes

By using a custom preheader for your email marketing campaigns, you will provide subscribers with more context on what your email is about and will encourage them to open and take action from your campaigns. This will increase your open and click rates which can lead to higher conversion rates.

Here you can see some examples of how your customers will see the Preheader in their inboxes:

Gmail in browser


Apple Mail OSX


Apple Mail iOS


How to Add Email Preheader in Omnisend

In Omnisend, you can add a preheader to all your emails: both campaigns and automated emails.

1. Email Campaigns

In the very first step, from Campaign settings, you will find an entry field for preheader. Enter it and see how it looks in the Inbox preview:


2. Automation workflows

Click on Edit Workflow > Email.


Wrap Up

Who would imagine that a minor text snippet could be so influential?

A subject line is closely connected with email preheader which should also be added and utilized at its maximum. The data shows that this initial email information is vital for your email open rate. And getting your email opened is the first step to earning a purchase.


Boost your email open rates:

analyze and improve your subject lines with our free tester!

Try It Now!

This article originally appeared in the Omnisend blog and has been published here with permission.

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