Add sparkle to your subject with preview text

5 minute read

Opportunity alert! The pre-header is a great way to add extra impact to your subject line.

Preview text

The pre-header is the short summary text (sometimes called the preview text) which appears immediately after the subject line when your email is viewed in the inbox. It’s not universal to all email clients, but many include the pre-header or preview as a way of providing additional information to the viewer before an email is opened.

Typical uses of the pre-header are to add further clarification or granularity to your main subject, introduce a potential call to action or to add a sense of urgency or immediacy to your subject. Like all subject line content general advice is to keep it short. Only the first few words will generally be visible anyway (visibility generally ranges from 35 characters in Outlook to 140 characters on Apple Mail), so make what you’re likely to have count. Done well, providing your reader with more ‘in advance’ information as to the content of your message is likely to increase your open rate. It can also help reduce spam complaints.

The pre-header is generally taken from the first line of text in the body of your email. This can work OK, but creating a dedicated pre-header is also a great idea.

In the past it would be common to create a dedicated text component at the very top of the email. This could be an important visual element of your campaign, but it’s also quite common to make the pre-header a much more subtle component in your structure. This way it does its main job (in getting your email noticed and opened) but doesn’t otherwise interfere with the impact and content of your main message. Some people even hide the pre-header text completely from the message by making the text the same colour as the background – interesting thought!

Anyway – now there’s a better way. Just released this week there’s now an automated feature for generating a preview text without having to create a dedicated pre-header component.

When saving you’ll notice a new field called ‘Preview text’. By default this will automatically be populated with whatever is the first line of text in the main body of your email. However if you wish you can manually edit this text box to add a different preview text. This will then overwrite the pre-header text with the replacement. This creates a hidden preview text component. It won’t appear in the email itself but will be visible as the pre-header text which is displayed immediately after the subject line when the email is delivered.

Worthy of note – it’s quite common to have a link to an online version of the email at the top of an email. This can still be done, although you cant add a link into the preview text field itself. Just put whatever you want to appear before this link into the preview text box then add your online content link at the top of your message itself. The specified preview text will always appear first in the displayed pre-header.

Here’s a quick example:

By default, on saving for the first time the preview text picks up the first text which is found in the email – in this case it’s ‘My first line of text’.

Adding preview text

Replacing this in the preview text box with… ‘This is my preferred pre-header’ will overwrite the displayed pre-header with the new information, but this will not appear in the email itself – it’s effectively hidden. Then just complete a subject line – e.g. ‘This is my subject line’ …

Preview text 2

And here’s how it looks when delivered.

Preview text on delivery

Like all of – simple, practical, effective.