Email Preheader Guide to Increasing Open Rates

Key Highlights:

• The importance of email preheaders

• The difference between subject line & preheader

• How to add preheaders to email

• What length should a preheader be?

An email preheader is the short summary text that follows the subject line in your email inbox.

If you haven’t created a preheader text in setup, this will usually be auto populated with the first line of text from your email.  By creating you own preheader text you can ensure the most important and accurate introduction of your email content is displayed.


We all know how important subject lines are for open rates on emails, but are you showing the same consideration to the email preheader?

You spend all that time creating beautiful design elements and engaging content, but what is the point if your email isn’t even being seen?

Some organisations have seen results of almost double open rates and this becomes even more relevant where mobile users are involved. As more recipients are opening emails on mobile devices, preheaders are increasingly important in gaining the attention of busy consumers on the move.

Preheaders contribute towards increased open rates, click throughs and reduce spam complaints and unsubscribes.

WeddingWire saw a 30% increase in click-through rates by testing preview text.
Source: Litmus “The Ultimate Guide to Preview Text Support” April 2015

email preheader example

What’s the difference between a subject line and a preheader? Why do I need both?

The defining difference between an email subject line and a preheader is; the subject line is the hook – the quick fast attention grabber to capture the recipients interest. The purpose of the email preheader is to provide context and show value.

With busy inboxes people are increasingly skimming subject lines to determine if they will open an email, customising a preheader is a powerful way to quickly communicate more context and  clarity around what can be expected in the email.

How do I add preheaders to my emails?

Some marketing platforms requires users to add complicated code to get preheader messages to display, however this is not the case for the TractionNext platform. Simply enter the preheader content in the dedicated field within the email builder and WHAM – increased open rates! The platform also allows you to AB test preheaders along with your subject lines so you can accurately measure what versions are attracting the most clicks and direct the traffic to the higher performing version.

“In my experience, we’ve implemented it (preheaders) on a number of campaigns and it’s raised open rates, click-throughs and reduced spam complaints.”
Source: “The Perfect Email Preheader/Johnson Box“, Email Design Review

How long or short should my preheader be?

The amount of text that displays in the preheader will vary depending on the device and email provider, as well as the user’s personal settings. We recommend you used between 100 – 150 characters and keep in mind that the first few words are the ones most likely to be seen, as remaining text may be cut off. Also ensure the start of the sentence is logical on its own without the full sentence needing to be read.

Now that it’s so simple and easy to do, you can start including preheaders on every email campaign!

Check out the platform here TractionNext

About Traction Digital

Traction Digital are experts in acquisition and engagement, streamlining the execution of cross-channel marketing campaigns, including lifecycle email, abandoned cart, promotions and ROI tracking.

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