Email Subject Lines: Make an Impression on Mobile

Dutch HollisIn my last post, I took a look at what you need to know about how email subject lines render on mobile devices. Today, I’m going to outline how you can make sure your value proposition get across when viewed on mobile.
The pre-header – you get a second chance.
The old saying goes that you never get a second chance to make a first impression. Of course this is tautologically true, but some mobile email (especially the iPhone) has a nice feature that allows your email “from” and your subject line to get some help in making that first impression. The iPhone mail app will render the first few lines of copy from your email (hopefully your pre-header) as text below your subject line. Android’s default mail and the Gmail app, prevalent on many Android devices, don’t usually employ this feature, though they may render some text after the subject line if the subject line is short. This gives you another chance at grabbing the recipient’s attention and getting them to open.

To get the most of this feature you need to make sure that you are reinforcing the message in your subject line, expanding on that value proposition for your email, and answering the question “why should I open this?” Consider the two emails below:

The weight loss message from Nutrisystem, while one of the truncated subject line examples above, makes use of the pre-header to reinforce the value proposition of savings. The Fab email instead gives the recipient standard, “click to see the web version” copy. While this is valuable to have in the email itself, its placement here wastes valuable real estate that could be helping your subject line make the case for an open on a mobile device.

You really are getting a second chance at the subject line in this space so use it very wisely.


In the coming weeks, I’ll be talking more generally about the use of symbols in the subject lines of your emails. For now, I want to simply point out that some mobile devices are well ahead of their desktop and webmail counterparts in the way symbols are rendered. Suns, stars, hearts and even airplanes can provide some punch to your subject lines when used responsibly and sparingly. They’re more impactful on a mobile device that uses color images to render the symbols.

Consider the two renderings of the same subject line below.

Both can make an impact but one is certainly more fun. If you are at a point now where most of your email is opened on mobile devices you may want to have some occasional fun with these (remember to use responsibly and sparingly).

2 Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. […] my last post, I promised a discussion of the use of symbols in the subject lines of your emails. Today, we’ll […]

  2. […] Email Subject Lines: Make an Impression on Mobile – To make the most out of your subject lines on mobile devices, make sure you use pre-headers. Dutch provides some tips in this post. […]

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