How To Write An Email Preheader

What’s often overlooked, small, yet mighty? 

In email marketing, it’s the email preheader. (Also known as the preview text)

You probably know all about the importance of email subject lines, yet email preheaders don’t get half as much love. 

This small yet mighty set of characters is an opportunity to increase the odds of your email being opened. A great preheader can be the difference between leaving money on the table or making more sales. 

In this blog post, we’ll go over what an email preheader is, why it’s important, and give you solid tips (and examples!) on how to write the perfect email preheader. 

 

What is an email preheader?

Email inbox with the preheader text after the subject line circled in pink.

An email preheader is the small line of text that appears right after the subject line in the inbox. It’s the digital equivalent of the Johnson Box. 

If the subject line is peanut butter, the preheader is jelly. Perfect complements, you can’t have one without the other. They’re just better together. 

When writing a preheader, the ideal character count is between 30-80 characters. 

Staying between 30-80 characters ensures that your preheader is visible on mobile devices, which is a must since the majority of emails are opened on mobile. 

Similar to your subject line, your preheader is a chance to get creative and entice people to open your email. Read on for best practice tips and examples we ❤️. 

Share the main point 

If you have an engaged audience, then your content clearly sparks their interest — so tell them what it is they need to know. Think back to answering essay questions on a test. 

Did you ATDQ (answer the damn question)

Example: 

  • Subject: “Why we started Outer”

  • Preheader: “Let’s be honest. It’s hard to get outside. We wanted to make it easier.”

Add a little intrigue

Every line of copy you write has one job: to get people to read the next line. 

And the next. 

And the next. 

Until they take the action you want them to take. 

Play into people’s curiosity by adding intrigue in your preheader. So people have to read more. 

Example: 

  • Subject: Hot Pockets 

  • Preheader: Heard you like carrying stuff. 

Create conflict  

Humans love stories — and good conflict is the core of every story. Lean into that. 

Don’t you want to see the resolution of this email???

Example:

  • Subject: “My kids HATED that I did this. 😡 ”

  • Preheader: “But I wasn’t going to budge. 😂 ”

Get weird 

Some may call it creative. We call it weird. People receive hundreds of emails per day. So, stand out in the inbox by just… getting weird

What if you...included only emojis? Just one word? A ridiculous statement? 

Example:

  • Subject: “🧙 🎩  ABRACA...ah forget it. ✨🧙🏽‍♀️”

  • Preheader: “MAGIC INSIDE.”

Induce FOMO

Drive urgency with a good ol’ fear of missing out inducing preheader. Urgency is a fundamental of writing direct response copy, and no one wants to miss out on a great deal. 

Example:

  • Subject: Only a few more hours of savings!

  • Preheader: You snooze, you lose… but, we really don’t want you to. 

Ask a question 

Posing a question is another great way to pique people’s curiosity and drive more opens. It creates an open loop in someone’s mind and grabs their attention. 

Example:

  • Subject: Training over 40: My Multi- Vitamin experiment… 

  • Preheader: Does it actually do anything? 

Show social proof 

Play into the human desire to be validated by others with social proof in your preheader. Customer reviews and testimonials are great ways to show potential customers that other shoppers love your product (and that they will too!). 

Example: 

  • Subject: 10/10

  • Preheader: Well, really 5/5. The FLOAT reviews are in. 

Use scarcity marketing 

You always want what you can’t have… 

Scarcity marketing is one of the most popular marketing tactics in the book. And for good reason. Letting people know that the availability of your product, sale, deal, etc., is limited makes it much more desirable. 

Example: 

  • Subject: the lip EVERYONE is talking about 💋

  • Preheader: See why it keeps selling out...