What TO DO With Email Pre-Headers

Last month, I shared "What NOT To Do With Email Personalization"after an untimely Valentine’s Day email hit my inbox, bearing a name that was not my husband’s. With that behind us, this month, let’s focus on a TO-do: effective email pre-headers to enhance your subject line.

We all remember the days when our subject line carried so much weight we spent as much time fine-tuning it as we did on the actual email creative.  If our “from” name wasn’t enough to entice an email open, all we had left was less than 50 characters of text to attract an open from subscribers via the subject line. We dedicated so much time and attention to it, and rightfully so: because we had no other real estate in a subscriber’s inbox.  
Subject lines are still an incredibly important part of our email strategy, and still deserve a lot of time and attention. They’re our first chance to deliver a good experience and engage subscribers — but no longer our only chance to do so.



As we aim to stay relevant and deliver better experiences in the world of mobile, the subject line has a counterpart – in the form an email pre-header— that email marketers don’t capitalize on quite as much as they should. Yes, I’m talking about the very small portion of text at the very top of your email, often reserved for text that reads “Email not displaying properly? View it in your browser.”

Email pre-headers are nothing new. Strategic marketers have been using them for a long time to deliver reminders, calls-to-action and special messages.  But what has changed are the format of Web clients and the way emails render on mobile devices.  According to Litmus, 75% of emails are displayed with preview text in the inbox. Our 50-character subject line can now be doubled or even tripled depending on the email client our subscriber is using — giving us more opportunity than ever to deliver value and engage our subscribers before they even open our email.  
Pre-headers shouldn’t be used as an extension of your subject line, but rather as a way to support the subject line with creative, useful or helpful information. A pre-header should deliver value, be clickable and be measurable.

Mobile is changing the way subscribers consume email and the way we market. While our overarching approach to email strategy needs to become more sophisticated, mobile is also driving us to be simpler.  The simplistic nature of an email pre-header is exactly what mobile email users are looking for. The email pre-header is our opportunity to help drive mobile email users to action.

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