Making the most of email preheaders

Where email inboxes once provided just a list of subject lines, in many applications we now get what are known as ‘preheaders’ alongside them: short extracts from the email, which fill up the rest of the line. On normal transactional emails, these are just the first few words of the email, so we’d see something like this:


From: Smith, John Your invoice no. 504179 Dear Sir/Madam, We are…


However, on mass emails sent through commercial software, we can specify what goes in the preheader (that second part) separately. And we really should.

In an example that my teenage son would call ‘totally meta’, I got an email from Campaign Monitor, the emailing service, which set out to explain how to do this and demonstrated how to do it at the same time.

The subject line of the email was simply “Did you know preheader text…”.

In email applications that do not show preheaders, that would be all that would be displayed – and it’s a perfectly respectable subject line on its own like that.

However, the ‘preheader text’ had been set as “…increases open rates by 30%?” – so in my inbox I saw:


From: Campaign Monitor Did you know preheader text… …increases open rates by 30%?


That was enough to make me open the email. It’s a feature we should all be using.