Introducing the Preheader

There’s a new feature in Constant Contact that I’ve not seen in other email marketing programmes that will help you get more of your email campaigns opened. There are just three things people look at when they decide whether to open an email, 1) who it’s from, 2) the subject line and 3) when it’s sent. The new feature I’m talking about extends your subject line and this article explores how you can use this new feature to your best advantage.

In some email browsers, for example, smart phones, Gmail, some versions of MacMail, in addition to seeing the subject line, you also get to see the first few words of the email itself in a sort of preview.

Here’s a screenshot to show you what I mean:

preview text demo

In this example, the first two emails have some default text instructions about ‘can’t see images’ and ‘is this email not displaying correctly’. They are standard texts that you can switch off and given that it doesn’t explain what the email is about and why you should open the email, I would switch that off.

The third example is making good use of the first few words and elaborates even further on the subject line.

So it makes sense to take advantage of those first few words and use some words that are more inducing to getting the recipient to open the email.

So how can you control what appears in the preview pane?

order of priority in email

Up to now I’ve always disabled the ’email not displaying’ (3) – who clicks on it anyway? If I can’t read it then I’m more likely to delete it than click on a link to read a web version – no one has time or inclination to do that!

Instead I have a block of preview text (4) that I format to be font size 8 and font colour the same as the background (grey). I make sure there’s a short line of compelling text that reads on from the subject line, effectively extending the subject line. In my editing tool it’s the very first paragraph and sits above any logo or header image. Making the text invisible in my actual email means it doesn’t spoil the look of my email. It does its job in the preview text.

Preheader (2) is a new field that’s appeared in the header options of the email.

It takes precedence of any text including the ‘can’t see this email’.

Here’s a screenshot of how it appears to the recipient

Pre header position

The first email shows that the ‘Having trouble…’ takes precedence over my preview text.

The second email example shows the preview text (and you see that you don’t have many words, so use them wisely)

The third and fourth shows the preheader text takes precedence over the preview text and the ‘having trouble…’ text.

So it then follows to use the preheader text wisely. A mistake I’ve seen is repeating the same preheader/preview text in different campaigns, so a false assumption could be made that they’ve already read/seen this email, so delete it. Make the preheader text lively, fresh, engaging, different from the subject and different for every email campaign.

So there you have it. An easy way to extend the subject line and entice people to open your email campaigns right there and then, rather than be delegated to the ‘read later’ or ‘never’ category!

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