5 Ways a Preheader Can Increase Response and Deliverability

A preheader is a small section that appears at the top of your email, above your message content.

For example, here’s the top portion of an email I received from Wells Fargo:

See the two lines above the logo? That’s the preheader. It’s called a “preheader” because the part just below it – the logo and navigation – are typically called the “header” of the email.

Many businesses use preheaders in their email marketing campaigns to get more subscribers to open and read their emails – and to ensure that their campaigns are as deliverable as possible.

How Can a Preheader Improve Response Rates and Deliverability?

In the uses I’ve seen, preheaders typically aim to do one or more of the following:

  • Link to an online version of the email and/or remind subscribers to turn on images.

    Why: Many people view emails with images turned off. If your email relies on images to drive clicks or get a point across, you want those subscribers to be able to see them.

    See an example from MarketingProfs.com

  • Ask subscribers to add the sender’s address to his/her address book.

    Why: As we’ve discussed before, getting in subscribers’ address books increases the likelihood that your email will (a) end up in their inbox and (b) actually get opened/read/clicked.

    See an example from REI.com

  • Deliver a compelling one-line summary of the email to get subscribers to keep reading.

    Why: People are busy. Many of them scan emails rather than read them top-to-bottom, and many use Gmail-style text snippets or their email program’s preview pane to determine which emails to bother reading.

    Giving people an overview of why they should read your email can increase the odds that they’ll actually do so.

    See an example from Backcountry.com

  • Provide an unsubscribe link.

    Why: People who want off your list will get off your list one way or another. If you make it hard to unsubscribe, they’ll click “Spam” – and they’ll keep doing so until they stop seeing emails from you in their inbox.

    See an example from Viddler.com

  • Remind subscribers why they’re getting the email.

    Why: Again, people are busy. They may forget that they ever signed up to your list. And if they forget they signed up, they’re probably going to want off your list (see above).

    Reminding them why they’re getting your emails can help you re-engage subscribers and minimize spam complaints.

    See an example from LaQuinta.com

How Do You Use Preheaders?

You’ll notice that in the examples above, not everyone uses their preheader the same way.

Doing every one of the things that you could do in a preheader could make it unnecessarily long; you have to pick out what works best for your email marketing campaigns.

Do you use preheaders in your emails? If so, what do you put in them?

Share your ideas below!