Put Your Preheaders to Work

Micah HattonWhen Knotice started using email preheaders way back when, our main concern was to convey and/or summarize the information contained in an email, so that if a customer didn’t have images enabled, they could have an idea what the message was about.
Skip to the present day, where we realize how important mobile opens have become, and the preheader takes on a whole new function. Looking at subject line performance, looking at the opens by device metrics from our on-demand platform Concentri, iPhone is almost always the #2 device (behind the PC), with anywhere from 10-15% of total opens.

How does this relate to preheaders? According to Email Design Review, depending on user settings, the preview text in the iOS mail window, customers can view up to the first 90 characters of email content, whereas subject lines are truncated at around 40 characters. This means that while a strong subject line is still effective, a more call-to-action oriented preheader is a key player in transitioning from preview pane to opens and clicks.

This information can be wonderfully helpful to consider when designing and writing messages, but this approach to preheaders can also help your desktop opens too. Sure, we all know about the Outlook preview pane, but webmail clients like Gmail also give readers a chance to preview what’s in their messages before they open.

Looking at a wide sampling of emails, however, it’s all too common to see “housekeeping” items displayed in the first 90 characters, such as “View on the Web” links and social media callouts. While some may argue that this is a perfectly acceptable way of doing things, a more actionable preheader gives readers far more incentive to open your email.

Think about your emails as a conversation – your subject line is the introduction, and the preheader segues into the main plot, which is the body of the message. Why get off topic with something like, “Trouble viewing this message?” Keep things moving toward customer action by using your preheaders to effectively bridge the gap between the subject line and the content of the email.

As a marketer, it’s important to figure out how to effectively manage the text that customers see when they view both their inboxes and their iPhones, and shed some light on the different requirements to consider when creating subject lines and preheaders.

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