Are you overlooking your subject lines and preheader text?

Are you overlooking your subject lines and preheader text?

In this article, we’ll emphasize the importance of email subject lines and preheader text in determining the success of your email marketing campaigns. We’ll dive into the research findings on how these elements influence email open rates and explore practical tips and examples to craft compelling subject lines and preheaders that resonate with your audience.

Key Takeaways:

  • A staggering 33% of email recipients decide to open an email based solely on its subject line.
  • Preheader text, often overlooked, plays a crucial role in supporting the subject line and giving a glimpse of the email’s content.
  • It’s essential to view the subject line and preheader text as a cohesive unit, working together to engage the recipient.
  • The length and clarity of both elements are vital, with their visibility varying based on the device and email client.
  • Avoiding common mistakes, such as leaving the preheader text empty or using backend coding text, can significantly improve the effectiveness of your emails.

Are you overlooking your subject lines and preheader text?

Research from Convince & Convert revealed that “33% of email recipients decide whether or not to open an email based on the subject line alone.” Yes, that’s the impact a mere subject line can have on your email open rates. I cannot stress enough how crucial it is to create tempting subject lines to get those emails opened.

How do you create one, and what are the basics of writing that oh-so-triggering subject lines? According to Mailchimp, “the most effective email subject lines are brief, descriptive, and include a compelling reason for the user to click ‘open”.  That being said, subject lines are just not the sole warriors who would get your message delivered and registered in the subscribers’ minds. There’s more to it.

For a long time, email marketers have been yelling their lungs out in favor of good subject lines, but the preheader text is equally important. It’s been overshadowed for a long time but now times are about to change. In case you are not aware, a preheader is a text that follows the subject line when you view an email in your inbox. Its primary purpose is to support the subject line’s content and give you an idea of what your email body contains. 

This is how the preheader text appears when you view your emails on a laptop. Notice it’s kind of an explanation of the subject line to strengthen its messaging further.

And this is how the same preheader text looks while seeing an unopened email in your smartphone.

Having cleared the air around preheader text and subject line, we’ll now see why you should use preheader text, how to impact preheader text and subject line, and how to use both these crucial elements in sync to boost the CTRs and success of your email marketing campaigns.

See the big (or whole) picture

The most common mistakes email marketers make is considering preheader text and subject lines as different entities. Don’t do that. You should always think and create your email’s preheader in perfect harmony with its subject line, and vice versa. These two texts are closely placed, and they together make more impact than just fighting the battle alone. A well-paired team of preheader text and the subject line would definitely pique the subscriber’s curiosity and get your mails actioned upon.  

For instance, here is an excellent example of how you can team up both these elements and use them to complete and complement each other. Subscribers are bound to start a conversation on seeing such texts. So why not leverage them to the most?

Subject Line: Do you like it shirty?

Preheader: We bet you do! Here’re 6 summer shirt icons you need to know about

If you are still not clear on maximizing the impact through preheader text and subject line, then seeking professional services like Salesforce Marketing Cloud email specialists or Mailchimp email experts would save the day for you. Not just preheaders or subject lines, they can even transform the content of your entire email marketing strategy.

Keep it short 

How much length of your preheader or your subject line is visible to a subscriber depends mostly on which device and email client they are using. For a desktop, the length of the preheader text visible depends on how wide a subscriber has set up their browser window and their email inbox customizations.

How long should it be?

Here is a compilation created by Litmus depicting the character limits for preheader text by some of those most popular email clients.

Here is a perfect example of a short yet contextual subject line and preheader text that doesn’t reveal the message’s content right away. Please observe how the brand has leveraged the text’s length by making it distinguished in the inbox.

Subject line: Beach, please.

Preheader text: Meet the JT Beach Jogger. Crisp, lightweight, and built for lazy days and epic adventures.

Can’t wrap your head around these preheader texts and subject lines? Using tried and tested email templates like Marketo email templates or Salesforce email templates is the best bet for you. You can leverage their expertise for your entire email marketing campaign.

You need to keep your preheader text concise and crisp but make sure it doesn’t appear vague or empty. Here is a classic example from Adidas that I handpicked from my inbox to show how an attempt to save some content can ruin your brand’s messaging and leave the subscribers wondering.


Another major mistake that email marketers make is to insert no preheader text at all. Sometimes, rather than a lucrative text, all your emails have is some coding text from the backend, which kind of dulls the impression of your brand. Not only does it exhibit the ‘carelessness’ towards your subscribers, but it would also make them lose interest in your future email. Here’s an example of what I am talking about. So, make sure you cross-check everything before jumping on that send button.

Wrapping Up

Subject lines and mostly preheader text might look a small part of the email marketing landscape, but it’s the small things that matter, as they say. So, follow these tips to keep your subscribers engaged.    

Kevin George

Kevin, the Head of Marketing at Email Uplers - one of the fastest-growing custom email design and coding companies, specializes in crafting beautiful email templates, PSD to HTML email conversion and mobile-friendly free HTML Email Templates. He loves gadgets, bikes, jazz, and breathes email marketing. He is a brand magician who loves to engage & share insights with fellow marketers.

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