Ideas from the Inbox: Preheader


Are there great email tips and tricks that you’ve heard like a million times, but never really had the chance to see how they work in practice? Welcome to GetResponse new cycle, where real-life examples bring dry theory to life. In “Ideas from the inbox” we review and analyze the contents of our email inboxes to find out which email marketing campaign strategies work best to improve your email performance.

The subject line is the first area that can help you boost reader’s interest and distinguish you in his crowded inbox. You can find examples of how to add glamour to your subject here and here.

But there’s one more area that can work magic in the modern inbox environment: the preheader.


What is the preheader?

The preheader is the top section of your newsletter. Located above the headline, it’s the first section subscribers see when they open your email . . . or before! Most email clients automatically display the first text line of the email in the message preview (typically 40-100 characters). The preheader is exactly what your recipients see next to the subject line. It’s an opportunity that you can’t afford to waste.


Why include a preheader?

A well-crafted preheader can boost open and click-through rates (CTR) at the stage when subscribers scan new emails:

  • A preheader makes the “long tail” of email marketing even longer. What does that mean? It’s an extra 40–100 characters that add to your subject line, emphasize it, and make it more powerful. Your preheader conveys additional marketing content to your readers — before they even open the email.
  • A strong call-to-action (CTA) used in the preheader can urge the reader to check out the message and prepare him to navigate wherever you want them to go.
  • Your preheader can be an eye-catcher — a distinguisher and incentive to grab that particular email (in case your eye-catching subject line fails to).
  • What’s more, it helps deal with the “formalities” — such as the white-listing request, unsubscribe link, forward to, and view online — and keep them in order.
  • It also imposes attention to good email structure; once you start organizing the sections of your email into a neat layout, you get a better idea of what is important and what might be redundant.
  • A preheader can help increase brand recognition, especially if your subject line is too short to include your brand name.


Below are a few tips on how to make the most of your preheader and some good and not-so-good examples, subjectively selected from my inbox.


What to include

  • Snippet text summarizing your offer





  • Substantial incentive


national gallery





  • Link to view email online (but not right after the subject line)
  • Request to add email address to address book
  • Link to forward to friend or post on social media profile


What to avoid

  • Don’t give too much information – preheader does’t really have to have it all.





  • But don’t underestimate the preheader’s role and position either. Make it visible and “good-looking”.





  • Avoid repeating yourself.





  • Don’t start with: “View online” – it’s such a waste of the valuable “preview” space.


view online



  • Avoid adding “Unsubscribe” link at the beginning.
  • Don’t include the date of your newsletter, especially in that place and especially if you send to global lists.




Ideas to try


  • Include hyperlink to help impatient subscribers navigate straight to landing page.





  • Experiment various text and background formatting options: your preheader can look cool!







  • Use a CTA in your preheader to increase urgency







  • Include an unsubscribe link (but not right after the subject line).


pizza express


  • If your email is one of a series — a weekly update, online course, etc. — you can change the subject line to attract attention, and provide the name of the series in the preheader to increase recognition and add consistency to your message.


Coming soon

Is this helpful? Stay tuned for more in this series of tips and tricks you can use immediately to make your email marketing campaigns more successful.

  • I really like some of these but the TOPSHOP one in particular I think is quite bad because of the amount of space it takes up!

  • HannaAndrzejewska

    That’s a good point Adam! Thanks for sharing 🙂
    Still I find the pre-header very compelling, especially when displayed in the gmail preview pane.