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8 Uses of Preheader Text to Improve Email Open Rates (Plus 1 Technique to Avoid)

June 5, 2014 By Christopher Lester
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Bad news, friends. Your subscribers spend less than three to four seconds deciding whether or not to open your email. And because at least 75 percent of folks first read email on their mobile devices, it's all too easy for them to swipe and delete without a second thought. The good news? Email marketers have another tool to grab subscribers' attention: preheader text.

In case you're unfamiliar with the term, preheader text is the slightly grayed-out text that shows up after the subject line when checking emails in your Gmail account or on your phone. It's common to put a lot of thought into what's inside your email, but when you neglect to pay the same level of attention to your preheader text, your email loses its curb appeal. The default message, "If you're having trouble viewing this email … " is the equivalent of having a hip boutique in a happening neighborhood and allowing the landscaping to get overgrown with weeds. It's just not enticing to potential customers.

So what do you put there instead? I've compiled eight "do"s (and one "hey, don't") for customizing your email preheaders so readers open up your email and stay awhile.

1. Tease the Content of Your Email
Sometimes my email subject lines are less than perfect. (I feel so much better now that that's off my chest.) So if you're anything like me, you'll write the occasional dud. The nice thing about preheader text is that it gives you another chance to encourage readers to open your email. Use it to capture the main point of your email with some compelling, eye-catching copy.

2. Provide a Strong Call to Action
Your preheader text can be a great place to include your call to action and create a sense of urgency. It will encourage your subscribers to open right away, before they get distracted by the compilation of cat gifs their friends just sent.

3. Elaborate on the Subject Line
In general, the shorter the subject line, the better it performs. Preheader text allows you to add some context while keeping your subject line length in that attention-grabbing sweet spot.

4. Write a Personal Message
A personalized note in your preheader text mirrors what your readers see when they get emails from friends and family. Plus it's subtle, so it's less likely to offend those folks who might be turned off by personalized subject lines.



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