Email Pre-Headers 101: How They Help Improve Open Rates

September 30th, 2013

Email-preheaders can have an extremely powerful influence on whether or not your message gets opened or ignored.


Example: Email Pre-header

In some cases, a pre-header may be the ONLY information visible when images are disabled, and often appear as teaser text next to the subject line in the email inbox.

Strategically writing your pre-header as a call-to-action to entice opens, may give your email marketing the boost it needs…


What exactly is an email pre-header?

A pre-header is primary real estate that is located directly above where your email content and images start (see example above).  A pre-header generally includes two or three lines of text linking to specific information.  The most common uses are “Click here to view this email with images.”, “forward-to-a-friend”, or a call to action that supports the subject line. Using pre-headers can help eliminate getting your message ignored and will help to engage viewers to maximize response.

Where can they be viewed?

Depending on the program being used to read emails, pre-headers may be the only section visible.  This is especially important when images are disabled.

AOL, Yahoo, Hotmail and other webmail programs typically show only pre-headers in preview panes or when images are blocked (see below). 


For the email programs below, your pre-header may be used as a preview or teaser text in the inbox.

MS Outlook 2003, Outlook 2007, Gmail, iPhones and other mobile devices display the pre-header as “teaser text” directly below the subject line in the inbox (see below).

outlook and gmail preheader

How are pre-headers used?

Email pre-headers can be used to support your subject line and offer more information to incentify opens and help increase response rates.  You can also use pre-headers to:

  • Link to a landing page
  • Offer a mobile or web version of your email
  • Ask subscribers to add you to their “safe senders” list
  • Build trust by reminding recipients who you are and why they are receiving your email
  • Include an easy to find ‘unsubscribe link”
  • Add a powerful, abbreviated marketing message and/or call-to-action
  • Incentify recipients to share the email with a friend
  • Use pre-headers to communicate better with mobile email viewers

Test how pre-headers will work with your audience.

Not everyone will use pre-headers the same way.   However, how you decide to use this valuable real estate can have an extreme impact on your campaign open rates and can maximize your ROI.

If you are currently using pre-headers in your email marketing, please share your experiences and success stories below!

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