MMW Op-Ed: 8 Ways to Use Preheader Text to Improve Your Email Open Rates

MMW Op-Ed 8 Ways to Use Preheader Text to Improve Your Email Open RatesThe following is a guest contributed post from Christopher Lester, Director of Concierge at Emma.

Bad news, friends. Your subscribers spend less than 3-4 seconds deciding whether or not to open your email. And since at least 75% of folks first read email on their mobile device, it’s all too easy for them to swipe and delete without a second thought. The good news? Email marketers have another tool to grab subscribers’ attention: preheader text.

In case you’re unfamiliar with the term, preheader text is the slightly grayed out text that shows up after the subject line when checking emails in your Gmail account or on your phone. It’s common to put a lot of thought into what’s inside your email, but when you neglect to pay the same level of attention to your preheader text, your email loses its curb appeal. The default message, “If you’re having trouble viewing this email…” is the equivalent of having a hip boutique in a happening neighborhood and allowing the landscaping get overgrown with weeds. It’s just not enticing to potential customers.

So what do you put there instead? I’ve compiled 8 do’s (and one “hey, don’t”) for customizing your email preheader so readers open up your email and stay awhile.

1. Tease the content of your email.

Sometimes my email subject lines are less than perfect (I feel so much better now that’s off my chest). So if you’re anything like me, you’ll write the occasional dud. The nice thing about preheader text is that it gives you another chance to encourage readers to open your email. Use it to capture the main point of your email with some compelling, eye-catching copy.

2. Provide a strong call-to-action.
Your preheader text can be a great place to include your call-to-action and create a sense of urgency. It will encourage your subscribers to open right away before they get distracted by the compilation of cat gifs their friend just sent.

3. Elaborate on the subject line.
In general, the shorter the subject line, the better it performs. Preheader text allows you to add some context while keeping your subject line length in that attention-grabbing sweet spot.

4. Write a personal message.
A personalized note in your preheader text mirrors what your readers see when they get emails from friends and family. Plus it’s subtle, so it’s less likely to offend those folks who might be turned off by personalized subject lines.

5. Give an incentive to open.
It’s no secret that people sign up to email lists because they expect to get something valuable in return. Hit them with that deal or exclusive content right away and watch your open rates soar.

6. Keep it short.
Remember that you have limited space in the inbox for your preheader text, so like subject and roller coaster lines, the shorter the better. The length varies depending on the email client, but to be safe, we recommend keeping it under 75 characters.

7. A/B test.
Every audience is different. Test variations of your preheader text to learn what resonates best with your subscribers.

8. Include an emoji.
Have a little fun with your preheader text by adding a symbol or emoji. It’s a lighthearted way to show your brand’s sense of humor and make your email stand out in a crowded inbox.

And now, for our don’t.

Don’t repeat yourself, it’s repetitive.
Too often, marketers make the mistake of using preheader text to repeat or restate the subject line. This doesn’t add value for readers, so use the preheader to give them something fresh that will catch their eye.

With a bit of creativity, your email preheader text can deliver big results.

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