Are you wrecking your email campaigns with poorly written preheaders?

“An email without clarity is like an annoying mime: Just say what you want or get out the way.” – Jordie Van Rijn

Read on to discover the biggest email preheader mistakes and how to avoid them.

In this article we’ll look at:

  • What are email preheaders
  • Do you need them and why
  • What to include and what to leave out
  • How to make them work best for mobile

Let’s get started.

What Is an Email Preheader?

Before we jump into the tips, let’s just make sure we’re all on the same page. 

Your email preheader, also called the preview text or snippet, is the line of text that appears under the email subject line when emails are displayed in your inbox. 

If you’ve designated a particular line of text as a subheader, it will appear here. Otherwise, the recipient will see the first line of text from the email body itself. It’s very easy to do if you’re using a designated email marketing platform, and it can also do wonders for your open rates… if you get it right.

Okay, let’s take a look at the top 8 email preheader mistakes people make.

1. Repeating the Subject Line

This is seriously ineffective and, frankly, lazy. Don’t waste the space by simply rehashing or – worse – copy and paste your subject line. People can already see that. Therefore, your email preheader should build on the subject line, not parrot it.

Psst. Looking for hot tips on nailing your email subject lines? We’ve got you covered >>

2. Clashing With the Subject Line

At the same time, you do need some consistency here. If the email preheader goes off on a completely different direction to your subject line, people will be confused or even suspicious, and far less likely to open the email.

3. Making It Too Long

Never forget that these days, most people read their emails on mobile. Long preheaders get clipped off, which interrupts the flow and thus, doesn’t look great.

Get more tips on optimising emails for mobile here >>

4. Including Links

You will almost certainly want to include one or more links in the main body of your text and/or your CTA, but the preheader isn’t the place for them. You can’t click links directly from the preheader and it looks kind of spammy to boot.

5. Letting the Unsubscribe Text Creep In

Okay, we’ve talked before about why it’s so important to make it easy for people to unsubscribe from your emails, but don’t start with the suggestion. You’d be surprised at how many companies pop a “don’t want these emails?” note right at the top of an email, which doesn’t exactly spark enthusiasm in a recipient.

6. Asking People to Whitelist

How many times in your life have you honoured a company’s request to add their email address to your safe sender list or address book, to prevent their missives from going to spam? I’m going to guess… never. So don’t waste valuable email real estate by shooting for the moon.

7. Only Writing One Option

Split testing, also known as A/B testing, is an incredibly effective way to boost your campaign’s performance. Don’t just limit your experiments to email subject lines, though. It’s well worth tracking the performance of your email preheaders too.

8. Not Having a Preheader at All

And finally: the worst mistake you can make is not bothering with a preheader at all. Lifting the first line of your email body just doesn’t look slick and professional and doesn’t let you control how the email appears in a person’s inbox. You need to hone your craft. 

Final Thoughts: Do I REALLY Need to Bother?

It’s always a good idea to write specific email preheader text. At the end of the day, your preheader text gives you another shot at hooking a person’s attention, even if they weren’t convinced by the subject line itself. For the sake of a tiny bit more work, it’s well worth making the effort.

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