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Back to Basics: Email Snippets to Fix Open Rate Issues

Most marketers struggle with drafting an effective email snippet. Read on to learn how to write snippets that bring better open rates...

Your email open rate is the combined impact of the sender name and subject line. Do you agree?

But there’s one more thing that affects your open rate. It is the email snippet. The other names are preheader text and Johnson box.

What is an email snippet?

An email snippet is the first line of text after the subject line that will be visible to the email recipient. Take a look at this screenshot to understand better.
The gray-colored text beside the subject line represents the email snippet. 
As you can see, it adds more value to the subject line. It allows the readers to know what the email is all about. 

email snippet- example

Unfortunately, many marketers overlook the significance of email snippets and leave the section blank. It harbors a huge opportunity that can take your open rate and click-through rate to the next level. 

Not using the preheader text space will make your email look like this:

email snippet- sample

Such preheader texts will ruin the entire experience for the subscribers, especially the ones using accessibility tools. They would not want to hear “Email not displaying correctly? View in Browser”. Also, it might trigger the spam filters as fraudulent senders do not use preheaders. 

Instead of “Email not displaying correctly? View in Browser”, you can write a preheader and display: “Use your credit card” as shown in the image below.

email snippet example of HDFC

Now, there is one more problem here.

In case your snippet text has less characters, the email’s starting words will be shown in addition to the preview text. This is particularly true in snippets for Gmail. 

email snippet example of HDFC bank

Workaround: 

The solution for this problem is to add trailing spaces to the preview text or make the snippet longer. Alternatively, you can modify the email copy to sync properly with the snippets in Gmail. 

Email Snippet Best Practices

1. Keep it short

50 to 100 characters is the ideal length for the preheader text, as suggested by popular ESPs. Some mobile devices might not show all 100 characters. So, 30 to 80 characters work well for all devices.  Do not add too much information in the preheader. The objective of your preheader text is not to sell, but to make the recipients open the email. 

2. Make it different from the subject line

If your subject line is “60% Off Ends Today” and your preheader text is “Last chance to take 60% Off”, it won’t make much sense. Both the statements convey the same message. Do away with redundancy. Here’s another example of repetition. 

Email snippet example of secret escapes tea

Instead, try something like MarketingProfs. The subject line and preheader text perfectly communicate the purpose of the email, thereby encouraging the users to open it. Such elaborative snippets for emails go a long way in getting better open rates. 

Email snippet example of
MarketingProfs

3. Give the readers a clear action 

Everything you do in the world of marketing, you do it to drive action.

Just like you include a CTA in the email, incorporate something actionable in the preheader too. 

Take a look at the preheader by YES BANK that prompts the users to take action and “apply now” for the home loan. 

Yes bank- email snippet example

4. Attract with an incentive

Promotional emails can get boring for the reader. They get too many of them each day. You can use the snippet text as a teaser of the offer in the email. For example: Take a look at this example by Kate Spade. 

The subject line mentions great prices and summer-ready styles. The preheader text builds up on it and reveals the 75% off offer.

kate spade- email snippet

5. Use the preheader as an abstract for the email

Your subject line and preheader together should compile the entire email, if possible. Take a look at the subject line and preheader from Pipedrive CRM. It is a mini-email in itself. It clearly lets the readers know that they need to upgrade the plan to continue using the tool. 

Email snippet example from Pipedrive CRM

6. Pique the subscriber’s curiosity

Sometimes, it is more rewarding to tease the reader and create suspense. Ellevest has used the same principle in their preheader text. They have intrigued the readers by promoting the free workshop that would make their future fun. 

Ellevest- email snippet example

7. Create a sense of urgency through the snippet preview

One of the biggest drivers of action is the fear of missing out. Creating a sense of urgency helps reinforce this feeling. Make prudent use of the limited space available in the preheader text space. Use words like “Don’t miss out” to bring instant conversions. See how Kate Spade has nailed this tactic in their preview text. “Today only” is enough to draw the reader’s attention and make them open the email. 

Kate spade- email snippet example

8. Incorporate emojis to add a personal touch

This is a best practice only if it matches your brand personality. Emojis give an informal feel to the email and make it more personalized. Just like we use emojis while chatting with our friends, adding them in your preheader text makes it look like a friendly conversation. 

Here’s how Chris from Copy.ai has expressed his excitement in the welcome email preheader text. 

Copy.ai- email snippet example

9. Add an element of humor

Humor goes a long way in getting emails opened and clicked-through. Make your subscribers smile and they won’t mind checking out what you have got to say. 

Take a look at the subtle humor used by Chubbies. 

Chubbies - email snippet

10. Test how the preheader renders across different devices

You must see how the preheader text looks in different devices. Use tools like Litmus or Email on Acid to preview your email from the subscriber’s point of view. 

Analyzing the Performance of Your Email Snippet 

The key metrics to consider for the success of email snippet are:

1. Open rate: How many people opened the emails?

2. Click-to-open rate: Out of the people who opened the email, how many of them clicked?

3. Click-through rate: How many people clicked on the links in your email?

4. Unsubscribe rate: How many people opted out of future communications?

How to add a preheader text to an email?

There are two ways to include a preheader text in email. 

  1. With code

In this method, you let the email clients know what should be added in the preheader text. 

It takes 3 easy steps:

a. Include the text as the first text within the email’s <body> tag 

b. Place the text in a <div> style

<!– ===PRE HEADER SECTION START === –>

        <tr>

          <td align=”center” style=”line-height:0px; font-size:0px;”><div style=”display:none;font-size:1px;color:#f7f7f7;line-height:1px;font-family:Arial, sans-serif;max-height:0px;max-width:0px;opacity:0;overflow:hidden;mso-hide:all;”> Pre-Header Text Goes Here </div></td>

        </tr>

        <!– ===PRE HEADER SECTION ENDS === –>

c. Hide the text from the main body of the email with the help of <div> style. 

The email will display the preheader text as the first text in the email. The hidden div style will hide this text when a subscriber opens the email. 

So, the email client will show the preheader text but it will not appear in the email design. 

In addition, you can also personalize the preheader text by using merge variables. For example: You can use {$firstName} to add the user’s name in the snippet preview. 

  1. Without code

If the steps mentioned above have intimidated you, there is one more option you get. ESPs and CRM tools also give you a feature to directly add the preheader text without any coding hassles.

Take a look at the screenshots below. 

  1. Preheader text in Mailchimp
Preheader text in Mailchimp
  1. Preheader text in ActiveCampaign
Preheader text in ActiveCampaign

Compatibility of Email Preheader Text

Except Mozilla Thunderbird, all the popular email clients support email preheader text. 

Wrapping Up

Email snippets play an important role in getting the subscribers interested in your message. Make the most of this opportunity and drive a considerable increase in the email open rates. Just follow all these email snippet best practices, and you will see a difference in the performance of your campaigns.  

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Disha Bhatt (Dave)

Disha Bhatt (Dave) works as a Content Strategist at Email Uplers. She is a dentist, who has found her calling in words & technical subjects. She loves to pen down travelogues and romantic short stories in her free time.

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