You no doubt know the importance of slaving over your subject lines and headlines until you perfect your prose. But you may not be so conscientious when it comes to your preheader — and that could be hurting your response.
The preheader is the line or two of small text that runs along the top of an e-mail message, above the headline (hence the name). If marketers use that space at all, it’s usually to notify recipients that they can view the e-mail as a Web page.
Given how many ISPs and network administrators block e-mail images, that’s not necessarily a bad use of the preheader. Andrew Robinson, vice president, full service at online marketing firm Lyris, says that up to 10% of an e-mail’s click-throughs can be via the preheader link to the online version of the message. But “one of my bugbears is the negativity of the language,” he says. He advises testing a more positively worded version — instead of “If you’re having trouble viewing this e-mail, click here,” for instance, try “See our latest products online.”
Make It Super Powered For that reason, Jim Kelley, manager, creative services for e-mail services provider e-Dialog, suggests thinking of the preheader as a “super subject line,” one that’s an extension of your subject line. A subject line such as “Ho, ho, holiday savings” could be complemented by a preheader such as “Save up to 30% on Christmas decor and more.”
“If you have an e-mail that is mostly images,” Kelley adds, “having this super subject line of text on top will help.”
While failing to take advantage of the preheader is a common oversight, a number of marketers err in the opposite direction by cramming multiple messages into the preheader: a link to view the message online and a request to be added as trusted senders and a link to an unsubscribe and a repeat of the subject line. Bombarding recipients with too many messages will lead them to ignore all of them.
“There’s a hierarchy battle that goes on there,” says Justine Jordan, senior design consultant at e-mail services provider ExactTarget. “Subscribers are only going to take a few seconds to look at your e-mail, if that much. In those couple of seconds, what’s the most important thing you want them to take away or to do?”