FREE Join the Growth Community: Cold Outreach Masterclass, Best Practices, SOPs & top-notch community! Access Now →
What is an Email Preheader and How to write them?

What is an Email Preheader and How to Write them?

In the last five years, emails that were opened on mobile devices and tablets have surged by over 30%. The number of emails opened on mobile devices has increased to more than those opened on computers.

As more consumers move to mobile, email preheader text has become an important consideration for marketers using email. The preheader is a set of characters placed in the subject line above your main subject line, which has the ability to captivate readers and drive more opens, clickthroughs, and sales. It allows you to catch readers’ attention when they scan their inboxes. 

So, fasten your seatbelts, dear marketers, because we’re about to embark on a captivating adventure that will forever transform the way you approach email marketing. In this article, you will be able to learn what an email preheader is, why it’s important, and give some hints on how to write a great one.

What is an Email Preheader?

Email preheaders are a summary of an email’s contents that appear after the subject line. They appear differently on web and mobile email clients. Preheaders, also called “email preview text,” can be added to your emails by using HTML and CSS. Or you can choose email software that lets you customize your preheader text without writing any code.

This is just an example of what an email preheader looks like in Gmail.

What is an Email Preheader and How to write them (1)

The email preview text appears differently in different email clients. Yahoo, Gmail, Outlook, and other different mobile clients have different ways of showing previews.  Let’s have a look at an example of what preview text can look like on mobile.

What is an Email Preheader and How to write them (2)

Email preheaders are a newer version of the Johnson Box technique, which was popular in the direct response copywriting era to preview the subject of a sales letter.

In the same way, a preheader is a summary in an email to entice people to open them. A preheader should be between 30 and 80 characters long to be read on mobile devices.

DesktopPreview Text SupportAverage Characters Displayed
Apple MailIncluded140
Outlook 2003Not IncludedN/A
Outlook 2007Not IncludedN/A
Outlook 2010Not IncludedN/A
Outlook 2013Included35
Outlook For MAC 2015Included55
MobilePreview Text SupportAverage Characters Displayed
Android Native AppIncluded40
Android Yahoo AppIncluded45
BlackberryNot IncludedN/A
IOS Native AppIncluded90
IOS Gmail AppIncluded50
IOS yahoo AppIncluded50
Windows PhoneIncluded40

How to Build an Effective Preheaders

Let’s dive deep into the five best practices for designing email preheaders. 

Create Anticipation

The goal of the preheader text is to make the reader want to open the email and find out what’s inside. They want to make sure that it’s worth their time to click through.

It could be a provocative question such as-

Subject- Did you catch these trending reads in your feed?

PreHeader- October’s Social Media Stars from your favorite brand. Want to check them out now?

A shocking story could be as-

Subject- Micheal finalizes 150+ deals every financial year.

Preheader- Seeking financial excellence, Micheal Jr became a financial analyst… and never liked it…

A mind-blowing promise could be as-

Subject- Choose your tees – 2 for $20

Preheader- Trendy shades for fall with a bundle sale of 2 for $20.

Always keep in mind these three criteria before crafting a preheader :

  • Ask an interesting question. 
  • Narrate a provocative story.
  • Commit a mind-blowing promise?

Make It Under 55 Characters

Well, bearing in mind that your preheader needs to show up on both mobile and desktop inboxes, the ideal length for your email preheader should be under 55 characters. 

This way the preheader will show up correctly on mobile and desktop. Always send a test email to your inbox to check if the preheader will show up right on mobile. 

Support The Subject Line

What is an Email Preheader and How to write them (3)

According to Google, the subject line is the most important part of an email as 80% of people will read your subject line while only 20% will read your content. So, never lose sight of the subject line while crafting your preheader. 

The ultimate asset for getting people to open your emails is to strengthen the subject line. 

For instance, 


Preheader: Nothing but net new

In this case, the preheader supports and strengthens the subject line but should not replace the subject line. 

Never Repeat The Subject Line

Never include the same content in the preheader that is included in the subject line. Add some creativity and make it interesting, which will grab the attention of the user. 

Personalize Preheader

Personalizing your preheaders will increase engagement for your email campaigns and build a stronger relationship with your audience. Personalization doesn’t just include the person’s name. Instead, it should talk about a person’s specific interests, demographics, behaviors, or recent actions. 

For instance,

Subject Line- Latest trends are launched

Preheader- Buy from our online outlet created just for you

Why is optimizing your preheader text important?

Let’s go through the reasons why there is a need to optimize your preheader text.

Preheader Text Are Used as a Prescreening Tool

Preheader text is the first thing subscribers encounter. So, from preheaders users decide whether to open your campaign without getting your email opened. To get people to click through and take your desired conversion action make sure that subscribers have opened your email. 

Use of Preheader text As a subliminal advertising

Subject lines decide if subscribers will open your email or not. People see your subject line as a subject line that builds your brand reputation. It is a psychological connection between your subject line and your brand. 

Thus if a subscriber is reading your subject line, they will read the beginning of your preheader text and then the content. 


In conclusion, an email preheader is a brief snippet of text that appears right after the subject line of an email. It gives recipients a preview of what the email is about and helps to capture their attention. Writing effective email preheaders is essential for improving open rates and click-through rates. Clearly communicate the value or benefit of opening the email, and consider using action-oriented language to encourage recipients to take action.

Remember, a well-crafted email preheader can make a huge difference in grabbing your audience’s attention and boosting the success of your email marketing campaigns.

So take the time to craft compelling preheaders that entice your recipients to open and engage with your emails.

Frequently Asked Questions:

1. What is an Email Preheader?

An Email Preheader is the short summary text that appears next to or below the subject line in an email. It offers a preview of the email content and helps the recipient decide whether to open the email or not.

2. Why is an Email Preheader important?

An Email Preheader is important because it provides an additional opportunity to capture the recipient’s attention and entice them to open the email. It allows you to provide a glimpse of what the email contains and encourages engagement.

3. How do I write an effective Email Preheader?

To write an effective Email Preheader, keep it concise and compelling. Use clear and concise language, and make sure it aligns with the subject line and the content of the email. Focus on highlighting the most important information that will grab the recipient’s attention.

4. Can I customize the Email Preheader?

Yes, you can customize the Email Preheader. Most email marketing platforms allow you to edit and personalize the preheader text. It’s recommended to take advantage of this feature to make your preheader more engaging and relevant to your recipients.

5. How long should an Email Preheader be?

An Email Preheader should ideally be between 35-90 characters long. This ensures that the preheader is displayed properly across different email clients and devices. Keep in mind that some email clients may truncate longer preheaders, so it’s important to convey your message within the character limit.

6. Should I include a call-to-action in the Email Preheader?

Including a call-to-action in your Email Preheader can be effective in encouraging recipients to take action. However, due to the limited character count, it’s best to focus on providing a preview of the email content rather than using the preheader solely for a call to action.

7. What are some best practices for writing Email Preheaders?

  • Keep it concise and compelling.
  • Use clear and concise language.
  • Align it with the subject line and email content.
  • Highlight the most important information.
  • Customize it to match your audience and goals.
  • Test different preheaders to see what works best.

8. How can I optimize my Email Preheader for mobile devices?

Since mobile devices have limited screen space, it’s crucial to make your Email Preheader concise and impactful. Keep it under 40 characters to ensure it is fully displayed. Focus on the most compelling part of your message to capture the reader’s attention.

About Post Author

You may also like...


🏆 Access to Premium Growth Hacker's Community

SOPs, Blueprints, Growth Hacks & Access to a Premium Community ✅