What Is an Email Preheader and Why Is it So Important?

Want to know exactly how an email preheader can improve your open rates and ultimately convert leads? We cover the basics so you can get to making email campaigns fast!

Kate Neuer
June 02, 2022

There are now more emails opened on mobile devices than on desktops. Email marketing has shifted in ways we never dreamed, but in recent years, it has clearly become the best way for businesses to connect to potential and current customers. 

This shift to mobile has made the use of preheader text an important consideration for any marketer using email to grow sales and revenue. Read the rest of our article to discover what preheader text is, why you should use it, and how to write effective preheader text to help your email marketing campaigns get opened and acted upon. 

Sometimes called email preview text, a preheader is that muted text, shaded gray, that appears immediately after the subject line. A preheader is basically the summary text that follows (often shown below) the subject line when an email is viewed in the inbox. Many mobile, desktop, and web email clients provide them to let you know what the email is about before you open it. Email users use this feature to screen their emails, while marketers use it as an opportunity to make an impression. Not to mention this helps marketers get more email opens and engagement. TruVISIBILITY has a great email app that makes creating great preheader text easy and fun.


Table of Contents


Why Is an Email Preheader Important for Your Business?

Email preheaders can be great tools if you track your open rate. If you’re using analytics, you can monitor how many people open the emails and messages you send, so, if you send 1,000 emails and only 300 bounce back, then 700 clients likely received the information. From there, you can monitor how many of those 700 individuals opened the emails and read what was provided.

If your open rate is high, your preheader is likely set to go and doesn’t need additional work. People saw what the email was about and were intrigued enough to continue. But if your rate is low, you may want to look at your email open rate for each email blast or campaign, see what they have in common in relation to your preheaders and reexamine your preheader to decide what to fix.

How to Create Great Email Preheader Text

A subject line header can be hard to craft to ensure your contacts will open your email. So let's check out ways to make a good subject line preheader. We will also go over how to make catchy email subject lines that you'd be proud enough to implement in your email automation time and time again (but we'll mix it up, we promise). Businesses generally should focus on these three best things when crafting a preheader text: the length of the text, the message, and any imagery or extra bits you believe relates to your brand.

Preheader Text Length

You’ll want to monitor your preheader text length. On average, a solid preheader is between 85 and 100 characters. If it is too long, people may lose interest and close the email quickly. The average adult has an attention span of about eight seconds. That’s one second less than your pet goldfish, so it’s important to keep your preheader short and sweet to ensure the person reading doesn’t just ignore it or read it and move on too quickly.

Last thing: be creative with your preheader. Don’t just write it in black and white and post it at the top of the page like a standard email addition. Use a different font or catchy color and, if you can, make the words larger than usual. Your preheader will likely be the first thing readers notice, so making it big and bold enough for them to see could entice them early.

Email Preheader Subject

The preheader message is more than adding the best words that encompass your entire campaign. Ask your audience to take an action and make the action clear, such as "read", "check out", or go with the unspoken action, which is usually to open the email to find out more about the interesting information noted in the preheader and even subject line, such as "Buy 1 Get 1 Boots". 

What else can you add to your email preheader? If your email platform allows it, emojis are becoming a huge hit since most emails are opened on mobile devices. Such emojis can replace words, making that 85 character limit much easier to navigate. For example, instead of writing "Snag a free pair of sandals for summer," you can replace the word summer with a sun emoji to free yourself up to add more to the message if you like. See how this cat emoji catches your eye? It also doesn't hurt that it's so cute and makes you think of your own cute furry friend at home.


All in all, your email subject should reflect the details here in the email preheader. Such details could be letting customers know of 30% everything... but with at least a $25 purchase. But if your business sells expensive items, this may not be a detail to share until your contact opens the email. 

Email Subject Lines

An email subject line is different from the preheader because it isn't necessarily giving deep details of what's in the email, but it's a preview that catches a subscriber's eye. Arguably, marketers feel more pressure creating this message to arise that curiosity in contacts. 

As mentioned before, you will want to mix up your email subject line in order to make the automation email campaigns you send not seem... repetitive. After analyzing or running a long-term test on how well some of your email subject lines do in terms of your clients engagement, try to use the similar formula of your subject line almost as if it's a template. You may have more people open an email of a certain type of subject line, but we would pay attention to the emails with the highest number of people who also went to your site by clicking in the email content as well. Of course, don't replace only one word of this subject line for every email blast to a subscriber. Mix it up more! 

For example, if one of your great subject lines reads "We got a FREE gift for you!", you can reword this when you have a similar campaign. "FREE gifts for you and a friend!" Clients love a clear message. And what clients wouldn't want to at least open that email to see how they can get something free? See how we kept keywords that we believe peaked people's curiosity? Also note that the length of both lines are similar and not too long. As you test out different messages, you'll soon see what type of messaging works for your readers and business.

How to Add Preheader Text

Below is an example of TruVISIBILITY's preheader, which is called "Preview Text". Every email marketing platform may call this preheader something different, but the preheader will generally be in the field below the main email header text line. 


To add preheader text, you should simply be able to type in the in the field provided. Most fields allow for all special characters, such as "!", "&", "*", "$", so you can add a more fun tone to your message if you desire. Once you have typed in your preheader, you will either be required to hit a save button or your text will be be saved automatically. Often the subject line is automatically saved. However, we suggest creating your preheader text ahead of time in a separate document for all marketing campaigns. 

Creating a Preheader Around Your Email Topic

There are a few questions you should ask yourself about the email topic and what you want below your subject line before writing your preheader text. The idea here is to craft preheader text around a few things:

  • Call-to-Action - What action you eventually want your readers to take.
  • Readability - How you want the message to read in someone's inbox.
  • Advertising - What product you are hoping to sell, which can entice people to shop elsewhere on your site.
  • Target Audience - What type of people you expect to open or click on your email.

Your call to action will be something simple for visitors to understand what is expected of them to get what they want. This could be the word "Read" or "View" if a blogger has a new blog post they'd like to share to their subscribers. 

The readability should be either simple or complex depending on your audience. If you have mostly younger subscribers, you may want to replace words in any subject lines or preheader text with fun characters or tone of voice, including adding emojis. This will also determine the text length you may want to have. Younger audiences appreciate shorter text. But studies show that shorter is generally the way to go for every audience type.

What product are you advertising? If it is something huge (physically and in terms of price), maybe don't mention this in your email preheader text. Or you can! It all depends if you think you can entice your target audience will a mystery statement, such as "A free gift for you through May 30" or if they are likely to click on "Free necklace with every earring purchase!" A/B testing can help determine what's best for your audience.

Target audience has been mentioned in all of these items to keep in mind when crafting an email preheader. This is because so much, including bounce rate or open rate and conversion rate, all depend on how they respond to your marketing campaigns. To learn more about A/B testing in general, check out our article here!

What's Next?

Now that you have hopefully understood the importance of making an enticing email preheader, you can now create one of your own! In fact, it never hurts to craft different preheader texts to test what type (mysterious or more spelled out) works best for your business. There is no type of message that works better for contractors, bloggers, jewelers, or other retail stores. So many factors come into play, such as location and type of audience or consumers you hope to reach. View the benefits of our free email messaging app to start practicing those preheaders and subject lines.


If you ever need help using the TruVISIBILITY Messaging platform, check out our other articles not just about our Messaging app but also about how to succeed at email marketing.