Lynette Rambo | April 5, 2016
Does this look familiar?
It’s surprising how many times this message still crops up in the email Preheader. And, it’s a wasted opportunity, because the Preheader is prime real estate in email marketing.
The Preheader, also known as “snippet” or “preview” text, is a small piece of copy pulled in from the body of your email and displayed beneath the from name and subject line once it hits the inbox.
Here are some examples of Preheaders as they’ve shown up in my Gmail account. Each of these emails tells me a bit more about the subject (in bold) of the email. This additional text is like a second subject line and should be used to encourage me to open the email and read further.
Studies have shown that we have about 3 seconds to capture someone’s attention as they are scrolling through the day’s emails and deciding which ones to open. Both the Subject Line and Preheader are critical for grabbing the reader’s attention and determining whether an email gets opened or not. So, use this space wisely!
To populate the Preheader, both HTML and text-only emails pull from the first line of readable text. If the first text that shows up under the opening <body> tag is the URL source for an image, then that’s what you’ll see. Or, if it’s the infamous “If you are having problems viewing this email …,” that’s what will show.
Let’s look at a few of the preheaders in my Gmail example above. They:
There are several ways you can insert a Preheader into your email.
Here’s how it looks in the code.
SIDE NOTE: If, for some reason, you are using any type of image above the text line (even a spacer.gif), the image URL will show up as the first line of readable text instead of your intended Preheader. So, be sure and test it carefully.
<div style=”font-size: 1px; color: #f4f4f4; display: none !important; mso-hide:all;”>Preheader snippet text here.</div>
So, even though my Preheader is blank on the setup screen in my email client …
It still shows up in the email once it’s sent.
And, it doesn’t show up in the email itself. In the event the “hide” command doesn’t work on an old email version, I’ve made the font the same color as the body background – #f4f4f4 – so it won’t show.
A Preheader should ideally be kept between 85 and 100 characters. Test your email over a variety of email clients and devices so you can see what your readers see.
While many desktop emails show the entire Preheader, some mobile clients will not. You may only have 30 characters max to work with before the rest get cut off. So, make sure your message doesn’t sound strange in that event. I like the example Meera Sapra, Zoho Senior Marketing Manager, gave in her blog post about subject lines.
LONG VERSION: “Summer’s here. Drown yourself in our soothing summer sorbet!”
CUT OFF VERSION: “Summer’s here. Drown yourself…”
To fix this, Meera suggests making the Subject “Our soothing summer sorbet is here!” That way, if it gets cut off, you still know the email is about sorbet. The same is true for the Preheader. Even though you can use a longer string of text, you still want the most important part of it up front.
EXAMPLE: Our soothing summer sorbet is here! Choose from 10 different flavors.
As you’re working to optimize your emails, think about what gets you to open and read the ones in your inbox. Write down ideas you see other people using and try something similar. Then start doing some A/B testing and see what works best with your customers.Back to Blog
Lynette Rambo is a Certified Email Marketing Specialist and a Marketing Consultant for the Salesforce Marketing Cloud. She has over 20 years of marketing, communications, design, and public relations experience for both small businesses and larger corporations. As a Marketing Consultant for ListEngage, Lynette consults clients on email marketing best practices, strategic planning, content creation, campaign management, and provides training and demos on the Marketing Cloud. She also works with the Salesforce CRM and connecting Sales and Marketing initiatives. You can contact Lynette at firstname.lastname@example.org.