The Email Preheader is the email content that you see when you’re say… on your iPhone and you get the first 80-150 or so characters to give additional context to your message. Here’s a sample inbox that effectively illustrates the preheader text (light grey, under subject line). I pulled this from Google Images:
Basically, a preheader:
- Allows you to maintain approximately 40 chars on your Subject Line – Note the Subject Line gets cut off, but the preheader content wraps.
- Allows you to provide additional context to the email
- Gives you a second chance to capture your audience’s attention if your Subject Line is crappy
Depending on your mobile device settings, you can view preheader text anywhere from 60 chars up to 150+ chars. To be safe, I would stick with the lowest common denominator of 60-80 chars.
Effectively utilizing a preheader means you need to make some updates to your email design best practice:
- Move less relevant text like “View Online”, “Add to Address Book”, links to your corporate website, “Contact Us” that at one point was generally at the top right of your emails to either the bottom center of the message or a dedicated table cell within your message on the right side of the email.
- If you are using tables to embed content (like many other emarketers do), have your main content on the left side of the email. Here’s another sample I grabbed from Google Images (below). What you’ll see in the email preheader is the first text content from Left to Right, Top to Bottom. If you have your “help, this is what’s going on, table of contents, sign up today” column on the left, that’s what will show up in your preheader. Rather, use the preheader content more effectively by having real content show up there, not the ancillary stuff.
So there’s Preheader 101 for you and hopefully some compelling reasons for you to take a look at updating your email design best practices.