After an email lands in your subscriber’s inbox, there are two things that largely determine whether they’ll open it or not- your subject line and email preheader. Now, while plenty has been talked about and written about the former (and rightfully so, your subject line is to your email what a teaser is to a movie), discourse around the latter hasn’t been as fleshed out. And in 2022, if you’re still not regarding it seriously, you are inevitably going to put yourself at a disadvantage. Let me explain why.
Why Do You Need Email Preheaders?
As glorious as your subject line might be, a string of 6-8 words can only do so much when it comes to generating curiosity in your reader’s mind. Even when they are absolutely floored with your subject line, most readers look for some additional context, an extra push, to consider opening the email, whether they admit it or not. This is precisely where your email preheader comes into the picture. If the efficacy of your subject line is at, say, 100%, a soundly crafted preheader can help crank that figure up much beyond that. And trust me, in this day and age of email fatigue and inbox clutter, you need this additional boost to outrank your competitors.
Besides, with mobile clients accounting for 41.6% of email opens at present, preheaders have become even more critical. On a desktop environment, one could possibly argue that subject lines come to the fore more easily than preheaders, but that’s not the case with mobile devices. Here, both of them occupy the limelight equally. The number of people accessing their emails via phone is only going to rise in the years to come. So, if you are not going to focus on your preheaders, your email engagement metrics might be at a risk of plummeting.
But, worry not. We won’t let that happen. In this blog, we are going to share all the ingredients using which you will be able to cook just the perfect email preheader. Excited to find out? Read on, the recipe awaits!
Initiate A Dialogue
One of the best ways to make your preheaders effective is by making them conversational. And what’s a better way of going about that than by posing a question to your readers?
Now, when you are taking this route, ensure that your preheader is enhancing the appeal of your subject line- this advice holds whenever you are writing a preheader, to begin with. However, in this scenario, this tip needs to be regarded with greater gravity because, unlike elsewhere, you are directly initiating a dialogue with your subscribers over here. Also, if you are making your preheader, it’s ideal that your subject line be declarative. There’s no hard and fast rule about this, just that doing so affords greater readability. Following up a question with yet another does sound a little annoying, you’d agree?
To gain a better understanding of what I’ve mentioned above, take a look at these examples
- Sur La Table
Subject line- Black Friday Early Deals: Vitamix, All-Clad and more
Preheader- Why wait? Shop some of the year’s best prices now!
Subject line- Perfect presents for all the beauty lovers on your list
Preheader- Did we mention they’re only at Sephora?
Subject line- DEALS, DEALS, DEALS❗️
Preheader- Did we mention we have deals?
Subject line- Learn live with Klaviyo customer ed this week
Preheader- Who doesn’t love coupons?
And one last example, just to highlight our last point, i.e., if you are framing your subject line as a question, it is ideal to keep your email preheader as a declarative statement.
See how Peloton has gone about it.
Subject line- Ready to rent a Peloton Bike or Bike+?
Preheader- Explore our flexible payment plan.
Download Rate card
Infuse A Bit Of Humor
When I say a bit, I absolutely don’t mind you putting dollops of it either, so long you don’t get carried away with it. Hence, with “bit”, my intention is for you to err on the side of caution. However, the bottom line is this: use humor. It is arguably the most potent way of disarming your subscribers, tackling apprehensions or any unsavory pre-conceived notions they might have regarding you. More importantly, people always look forward to hearing from a brand that can plant a smile on their faces. I mean, who wouldn’t? All that said, humor is probably one of the toughest codes to crack out there. And I’m far from being a certified jester myself. So I’m not going to give you the low-down on how you can whip up humor in your preheaders. Instead, I’m going to list out a few examples and let them guide you.
Subject line- Still wiping? 🥺 We hate that…
Preheader- it would be cleaner with a bidet.
- Pit Viper
Subject line- calling all tr!cksters
Preheader- I don’t want you reading my e-mails.
- Uncommon Goods
Subject line- Shop by price
Preheader- Let’s be honest, that’s how we all sort anyway
- Drunk Elephant
Subject line- It’s all for the best
Preheader- (And we mean ALL)
Pay Attention To The Length
This is, hands down, one of the foremost things you need to take into account while crafting your email preheader. None of the wit, candor, authority, and humor you have worked into your email preheader will bear fruit unless you first make sure its length is appropriate.
Why so, you ask? You see, if you don’t happen to work within the prescribed character limit, your preheader will either get truncated (if it’s too long) or it will end up picking text from the email body (if it’s too short)- goes without saying, both are unfavorable outcomes.
So, what’s the ideal length? Anything between 40-130 characters. Different email clients have different rules with respect to the “ideal” preheader length. Hence, the best course of action is to find out which email client is used by the majority of your subscribers and modify the length of your preheader accordingly. And after you have done that also, don’t forget to send yourself a test email to check how the preheader is displaying across various devices and clients.
Use Preheaders To Strengthen Your Value Proposition
I hope, by now, I’ve been able to make you understand how your subject line and preheader work as a tag team. If not, this point will definitely accomplish that objective. First off, let us discuss what are the PRIMARY things one aims to realize with their subject lines.
- Make an announcement
- Spark curiosity
- Instill a sense of emergency
- Give readers a crisp summary of the email
Now, in the midst of acing these notes and dealing with your subject line’s character limit, you don’t have much scope for talking about the value proposition of the products or services mentioned in your email, do you? Here’s where the email preheader comes to your rescue. With them, you can briefly summarize the USPs of the offerings in your email, giving your subscribers that much-needed nudge to open your email.
Wondering how the best in the business go about it? Check out these examples.
Subject line- Blow your kids’ minds with this sweet treat.
Preheader- Crunchy, fruity, and fun to eat: It’s Fairy Bread.
Subject line- The recipe for a perfect gift
Preheader- (A framed recipe) A gift for generations to come. From biscuits to baklava, ensure that favorite recipes become family heirlooms.
- The Edinburgh Natural Skincare Company
Subject line- Save on anti-ageing serum and cream combos
Preheader- Age-defying skincare combos to keep your skin glowing all winter
A/B Test To Identity The Best Version
When it comes to understanding your subscriber’s tastes and preferences, you can’t simply rely on instinct and intuition. While they, no doubt, critically inform your decision-making process, to be able to hit the nail on its head, you need to include one more factor as well- analytics. Data and the inferences it yields help you look past your personal biases and take calls that are more in line with the objective reality.
In this regard, A/B testing is an incredible tool that you must leverage. As a brand, when you write preheaders, you will first create a list of 15-20. Next, you will shortlist the best ones, to the point where you are left with two equally meritorious options. How do you determine which will work best for your audience? Enter: A/B testing. It allows you to pit your two best options against one another, eventually revealing to you which is the best-performing one.
Wrapping It Up
Email preheaders complement your subject line, giving your email engagement a significant boost in the process. Getting them right is not something one can master overnight, of course, but we hope that with the guidelines and examples shared above, you are able to get the lay of the land as quickly as possible!