So you've got your subject lines down, and you know what makes your readers click and what doesn't. But have you given your preheaders much thought lately?
It might be time to give them another look.
You can give even your best subject line a little extra kick by adding a deadline, a secondary offer, or more information to your preheader. To help you get started, here are seven ways to punch up that second line of copy in your email marketing.
Use your preheader to support or expand on the idea you introduced in the subject line. A few recent examples:
Subject line: You Need These Capris
Preheader: Built for Everything from Ballet to Box Jumps – Shop Now
Subject line: Restoring an American Legend
Preheader: Learn about how the U.S.S. Yorktown overcame rust and corrosion
Add a call-to-action in the preheader to get customers moving in the right direction, right away. A lot of companies seem to take this route. You can even have multiple preheaders; just use pipes or an en dash to separate each linked bit of text.
Subject line: We’ve got a surprise in-store for you
Preheader: Save the Date FIND A STORE
Subject line: Ride through summer with Quiksilver polos and shoes
Preheader: Shop Polos – Shop Shoes
Try adding coupon codes or additional benefits and information about your main message. It's a great way to keep a potentially long subject line at a nice, digestible length.
Subject line: A surprise just for you (1 week only!)
Preheader: Use code T6TZ-Z7M9-G9JN for 15% off your next order or show this email in store
Subject line: Summer Clearance under $100 – 102,345 items just added
Preheader: PLUS Patagonia, North Face and Prana on Sale
If you don’t want to reiterate your main message in the preheader, try including a secondary offer. It just might bring in readers who weren't enticed by the content in the subject line.
Subject line: Prepped for fall
Preheader: Plus, 40% off wear-right-now styles
Subject line: Our skinny ankle jeans, upgraded.
Preheader: Wear them with this bootie.
Perhaps your customers no longer respond to seeing their first name in the subject line. Have you tried adding it in the preheader?
Subject line: Final Hours: 90% Off Clearance + #DesignerSunday
Preheader: Hi Lizette! Missoni, Guess, Eli Tahari…Shop Now!
Subject line: A friendly reminder…
Preheader: Lizette, your product picks are waiting at checkout.
On the same page, Urban Outfitters personalized the preheader of their abandon cart email campaign by mentioning the item that was waiting for me at checkout. This definitely grabbed my attention and would’ve been way too long in the subject line.
Subject line: Hey…you left something at our place…
Preheader: Once Upon a Time: The Lives of Bob Dylan Hardcover By Ian Bell $35.00
Some brands treat the subject line as more of a teaser, and let the preheader serve up more specific details. Give it a shot and see if it works for your audience.
Subject line: Wear them. Share them. Live in them.
Preheader: Introducing the Live in Levi’s® Project. Plus free shipping on all orders
Subject line: You’re on our extraspecial list. Here’s proof
Preheader: Early access to our fall collection, right here
Maybe there's a special offer or everyday value proposition that only your company offers. Help your customers keep that in mind as they shop by including it in your preheader in every email. Some companies doing this include:
Subject line: Summertime styles got it goin’ on…
Preheader: FREE Shipping on Orders $50+ FREE Exchanges & Easy Returns
Subject line: The 5 must-have items to instantly elevate your look
Preheader: As always, we have free shipping and free returns.
On a desktop, a preheader can be as long as 100 characters, depending on which email service your reader is using, how wide their browser is set at the time and how long your subject line is.
A Yahoo inbox on desktop:
However, with about half of email opens now occurring on a mobile device, you have fewer characters to play with. For instance, in the iPhone native email app, you have about 65 characters before the text gets cut off:
And you have about the same amount of characters in the Android native email app:
However, in the Android Gmail app, you have about 30-40 characters, but only if the subject line doesn’t take up more than one line.
So, with all that in mind, it’s best to simply find out where your customers are most frequently accessing your emails to determine which length is right for you.
There are some links customers expect to see at the top of a marketing email, including a "View with images" link or maybe even an "Unsubscribe" link. If these are at the top of your email, just make sure they’re placed after your most important content so that they’re not the first thing customers see in the preview pane after your subject line.
You can also give those types of links another look and see if there's any way to shorten them. For instance, if you still have something like, "This message contains graphics. If you do not see graphics, click here to view." consider shortening it to the standard "View with images" or, even better, something with a little personality that fits your brand voice.
Remember: Use that prime space to support your subject line and guide readers into the rest of your marketing email.
Main image source: Airman 1st Class Kerelin Molina [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
Since 2004, she's produced creative concepts and written copy for a diverse range of clients including Pottery Barn Teen, ANN Taylor, Victoria's Secret PINK, The Ritz-Carlton, MetLife, Gerber Life and La-Z-Boy. You can follow her on Twitter @lizettegrrr.