10 Email Preheader Best Practices To Boost Open Rates!

Whether you’re in a corporate 9-to-5 job, working in marketing, or still pursuing your studies, one thing is for sure – your email inbox is flooded.

Everything from updates on seasonal sales, to the latest offers, personal emails, account-related emails, and more, everyone has dozens of emails left unread.

The question then is, what would compel you to click on a particular email amidst the sea of options? Simple, it needs to capture attention. The easiest way to do so would be with a super witty or funny preview text that you just can’t help but click. This is what an email preheader is.

In today’s competitive market, preheaders carry so much weight on marketing success. A campaign that knows how to optimize a stellar preheader will always be ahead of its competitors.

In this blog post, we will break down what an email preheader is, how long it should be, the benefits of utilizing it, and the best practices to keep in mind while crafting one. Let’s get started!

What is an Email Preheader? (Definition)

An email preheader is a small line of text which appears after the subject line in an email box. It’s usually what people read first when they receive an email. Preheader is also sometimes called – ‘email preview text’ or even ‘Johnson box’.

A preheader is by nature, a short summary of an email. This is why it is so important in email campaigns because it’s an introduction to your campaign. If your preheader fails to gain the attention of your reader, then it’s most likely that the email won’t even be opened.

In the body of an email, however, preheader text shows up above the header. If it’s a personal email, a preheader would have an opening line such as “Dear Samantha, so glad you reached out…”. For business purposes, most email marketing tools make it possible to customize a preheader according to personal preferences.

An email preheader, if strategically crafted, will make your email distinct and persuade readers to read your email. A single line of text can really factor into the success of a campaign.

How Long Should an Email Preheader Be?

Although emails may appear differently in different inboxes due to variations in the space allotted for texts, ideally, an email preheader should be no longer than 100 characters maximum. It’s best to keep it short and crisp, yet well-written. If you can fit it into 30-80 characters, that would be even better.

It’s best to tailor your preheader to lean more towards a smaller character range to ensure that your email preheader will most likely fit into varying allotments of preheader texts in different inboxes – that means, whether your subscriber is viewing it through a desktop, laptop, tablet or a phone, you can rest assured that your message will be efficiently conveyed.

What is email preheader and how long it should be?

So, here’s a list of 3 things to keep in mind when you draft your preheader:

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  1. For clients or subscribers who use a desktop to check emails, the length of your email subject will determine how much of the preview text will actually be displayed.
  2. If someone is using their phone to check emails, a lesser portion of your preheader text will show. This is exactly why it’s advised to be strategic with your preheader and keep it concise.
  3. But, don’t go overboard and craft a preheader that’s almost like a short slogan. If it’s way too short, those reading your email may pull in text from the beginning of the email.

Now that you know a little about email pre-headers, let’s take a look at some of the benefits of having one!

What are the Benefits of Email Preheaders?

1. Sparks Interest

More often than not, readers first look at the subject line and then at the preheader text when viewing an email. Let’s say the subject of your mail is already something that a reader or subscriber is not really interested in and so, they will most likely only glance at the preheader text that follows. This is why a well-crafted pre-header is key to at least sparking curiosity in readers to want to read the email further, even if the subject matter may not garner their attention.

2. Increases Email Open Rates

If your preheader text is innovative and witty, or better yet with an element of humor, a reader will no doubt be interested to open your email. Several companies have noted that statistically, their emails with attached preheaders have higher open rates than ones that have no preheader attachment, even if both had the same exact content. So, the benefit of a good preheader is that it will entice and eventually compel a reader to open an email, thereby leading to increase email open rates for your campaign.

Read More: Improve Email Open Rates with these 11 Powerful Tips & Tricks!

3. Serves as an Introduction

An email preheader is a previewing text which follows the subject line. So, it serves as an introduction to the entirety of your email. It gives readers a sneak peek of the content of your email, and they can then decide if the email is relevant to them or not. With a stellar preheader, you’ll keep your readers hooked and interested to read the email further.

4. Avoids Confusion

If an email has no preheader, then depending on what device a person receives the email on, the recipient may glance at any random text that follows the subject line. This can create confusion especially if your email starts with just a greeting. Also, without a preheader to your emails, the recipient’s email client may show random bits of your email that without context, might not make much sense. So, in order to avoid confusion that can lead to potential clients losing interest, it’s best to add a preheader to your emails.

A well-written email preheader grabs attention and persuades readers to want to open emails. Drafting 35 – 80 characters of text may not seem like a big deal, but, writing an effective preheader can be quite challenging when you really get down to business.

So, we’ve curated the best practices below, to serve as a guide so that you can craft a stellar preheader for your email campaigns.

How to Write an Email Preheader?

Step 1. Work with the Subject Line

A great email preheader is one that works cohesively with the subject line to entice readers to open the email. As the subject line and preheader text appear together as a preview, if they flow and connect well to create an impactful message, recipients will be bound to want to read more.

Write a subject line

A great way to efficiently utilize them is to make sure the content of both mirrors each other, in the best way possible. Try to creatively tell a story using the subject line and preheader together and impress readers with a concise preview of your email campaign.

Step 2. Spark Curiosity

To make readers gravitate toward your content, you have to spark their curiosity. Try to come up with innovative one-liners that will make recipients eager to open your emails. You can use preheaders as leverage to increase your email open rates. Some examples of how you can do this are:

  • Start a short story or an interesting sentence but don’t finish it.
  • Usage of cliffhanger phrases such as – “What you might not know about….”, “You don’t want to miss out on….”, etc.
  • Imply that the email has further information that the recipient needs to be aware of. For example – “We’ve listed the best farmer’s market produce below….”
  • Ask a question that will leave readers wanting to know the answer.

Read More: Increase Conversion Rate Using These 15 Killer Hacks!

Step 3. Create a Sense of Urgency

It’s human nature to have a fear of missing out. That rush you get when it’s almost the end of sale season and you don’t want to miss out on the best deals is a marketing tactic companies use to compel you to shop.

In the same way, it’s smart to create a sense of urgency with your emails. Write up your email pre-header in such a way that it seems exclusive and has a time limit. This will make recipients more likely to open your email and read it further.

Step 4. Utilize Emojis

You can utilize emojis in your preheader to stand out from competitors. Picture this, a person’s inbox is flooded with emails, and amongst the sea of gray text, a colorful emoji is bound to capture attention. Be creative with your emoji usage and you can express more information using fewer words.

Step 5. Humor is Key

A good laugh always leaves an impression. A funny preview text that gets a chuckle from a reader has not only gained the reader’s attention but also leaves an impression.

Humor always works as a good marketing strategy so including a witty joke in your preheader might leave more of an impact than you think. But it’s important to note that it also depends on your audience in the industry.

Step 6. Include a CTA

A CTA or ‘Call to Action’ basically means to tell readers what they should do after reading the email. This is important because adding a CTA to your preheader will refrain you from beating around the bush.

Add a Call to action in your email preheader

Examples of preheader CTA’s can include – persuading readers to complete a short survey or compelling subscribers to take advantage of available discount codes.

Step 7. Avoid Repetition

We mentioned above that the subject line and preheader should work together, but make sure that the end result is not repetitive in nature. They should be utilized to work together cohesively and serve as a summary for the entire email. Be mindful of repetition as readers will quickly lose interest.

Step 8. Personalization

The marketing industry is cut-throat and every campaign wants to outdo competitors. So, people are flooded with a sleuth of options. In order to stand out amongst the crowd, you need to personalize your content so that it reflects the message you want to convey. It’s easy for readers to feel overwhelmed when bombarded with so many spam emails, so craft up an email that has your personal touch and makes people want to open up your email.

Step 9. Keep it Concise

The golden rule in crafting an email preheader is to keep it concise. All the above-mentioned practices and tips will guide you in the process of crafting a good preheader. But you should keep in mind that no matter how innovative or humorous your preheader content may be if it’s too long, most people will find it boring even with just a glance. So, keep it concise yet impactful.

Step 10. Don’t Forget to Preview It

As mentioned before, depending upon the device that your subscriber is viewing your email, the character limit may differ according to the email service provider. To ensure that the right text appears no matter the format, it’s good practice to preview your preheader across different email clients.


A single line of text may seem insignificant, but a preheader is a crucial part of every email. It serves both the purpose of introducing the subject content of your email, as well as being a summary of what your email is all about.

Email marketing is such a competitive industry and being able to stand out amongst the crowd is what every campaign manager wants. An effective email preheader will get you ahead of the game by capturing attention and garnering positive traction which will aid in the success of your email marketing campaign.

So, it’s wise to invest your time in crafting a stellar email preheader that will increase email open rates, enable your subscribers to know more about your content, and build a loyal subscriber base for not only the current email campaign you are working on but for future endeavors as well. Good luck!

Further Reads:

15 Email Marketing Best Practices For Your Next Campaign!

Top 15 Email Marketing Tips To Revamp Your Marketing Strategy

7 Tips & Tricks For Sending Outreach Emails That Get Replies!

6 Ridiculously Simple Email Marketing Tips For Content Marketers!

10 Amazing Lead Magnet Ideas & Examples To Grow Your Email List

How To Write A Gentle Reminder Email? (Steps & Examples)

How To Keep Your Email Lists Squeaky Clean?

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