What Is an Email Preheader? 10+ Practices to Boost Open Rates

Vaneezae Malli
Vaneezae Malli

Last updated on

February 8, 2023

How would you ensure that your email gets opened in a cluttered inbox? There are over 300 billion emails sent and received every day (statista), but this should not be something that discourages you. Email marketing is considered very consistent, and returns a high ROI. Around 66% of businesses rely on email as a direct form of customer communication. 

To take advantage of this stable marketing channel, you need to put forward an email that has a high chance of boosting open rates. Different aspects put together the perfect email, one of the most important would be the email preheaders. Email preheaders are said to be the deciding factor of whether or not your email is opened or not. In this guide, we will highlight the top 10 ways you can use email preheaders to increase open rates.

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What is an email preheader?

An email preheader is an important aspect of the email that you send out. If you are new to this, an email preheader is not the same as a subject line. An email preheader is a summary text that follows the subject line when the email is viewed in the inbox.  

The preheader text is what firms usually show their clients to give them an idea of what the email is about, a hint of what they will read if they open the email. Email preheaders are best to use for email campaigns. 

Constructing the right email preheader is a crucial element of your email design. Email open rates have a chance of decreasing if they are not enticing enough. 

Email preheaders can be added to emails by using HTML and CSS or by using email software that allows you to customize your email preheader text without code. Email preheaders appear differently in different email clients. Outlook, Gmail, Yahoo, and other various sites all have different ways of showing previews.

Here is what an email preheader looks like on Gmail:

gmail preheader example

What are the components of a preheader?

A well-structured email preheader should be around 40-130 characters long. People usually do not like reading something that is really long and extensive. Keeping the email preheader short and interesting will keep the recipient interested. 

You can further make the preheader meaningful with catchy phrases or words that describe your email best. A good preheader text should contain essential information. 

Moreover, use different emojis to make your preheader text look more creative and humane. 

Personalization is the key to increased open rates. Another essential aspect that can be added to the email preheader can be CTA’s. You can engage people to open your email with a call-to-action, which builds up the reader’s curiosity. 

Many users now open emails on their phones; this is something that you should consider while constructing your email preheader. The preheader text on the phone is shorter as compared to other devices. The best length for the preheader text on the phone should be 35 characters. 

What is the use of a preheader?

An email preheader is used to provide a bit of information regarding what the email is about. It convinces recipients to open the email. This can happen only if the preheader text includes something that the customer is interested in. 

Writing an optimized preheader also helps email marketers to understand their target audience's behavior. Along with this, once the email rates increase, the chances of conversion rate double too.

A carefully drafted preheader can boost open rates and click-through rates 10x, increasing conversion rates. Usually, most emails just end up in spam or junk, but if you use the email preheader in the right way and construct the perfect preheader text, there is a high chance of boosting your email open rates. 

How to use the preheader

Two basic ways can be used to add a preheader to your email. An easier way would be to utilize email marketing software, and a little advanced method would be by manually inserting an HTML code. If you are not used to coding, the email software that allows you to add preheader text without coding is the best option. 

Add a preheader with code 

As stated above, the email preheader can be added through HTML, CSS, or any email software. If you are proficient with coding, then HTML is the easiest option, and all you have to do is add a bit of text after the <body> tag in your HTML code, as shown below. 

add email preheader with a code

Add a preheader without code 

You can also further style your preheader text according to your email campaign using an email marketing software that offers more templates and choices. 

The use of email marketing software for preheader texts for email campaigns is the best because it requires no coding! For example, Mailmunch offers free email templates library to its users to draft and design an email with a responsive drag and drop builder. 

Why email preheaders influence email open rates

If used correctly, email preheaders can positively influence email open rates. When you provide the correct information in the preheader, there is a better chance for that email to get opened. Out of 300 billion emails sent, only selected emails are clicked upon. Therefore a preheader and subject line can make or break an email campaign.

Preheaders support your email subject lines. It not only helps to engage the recipient to take the action but it also compliments the subject line big time. 

It emphasizes the email copy, creating anticipation in the recipient’s mind. Thus, they are likely to click on the email and the CTA button in your email copy too! On the bright side, an SEO-optimized preheader text increases the likelihood by 7% for conversion rates.

Ready to write engaging subject lines for your email? Sign in with your Mailmunch account to use our FREE HTML email templates! Use the intuitive drag and drop builder to add the SEO-optimized content right away.

10+ practices to boost open rates

There are different ways you can use to boost open rates, but here are the top 10 practices you can use to boost email open rates with the use of email preheaders. 

1. Personalization 

Personalize your email preheader to make your client feel special. The importance of email personalization holds a high value. At every point, you should take the chance and strive to make your emails personalized and not as a part of a mass campaign blast. 

Subject lines that include the recipient's name receive higher click rates. It's best to start your email with “Hi ‘your name’” to add the personal appeal. Follow a similar practice to your preheaders. This will make your reader feel as if they are being addressed directly.

2. Brief Question 

Adding a brief question empowers the reader to engage and makes them feel like the sender cares about what they feel and think. Questions represent a natural call and response between the sender and the client. As stated above, the preheader text should only be a certain length. Considering this, you can add just 3-4 word questions, for example, ‘Are your ads not showing up’ or ‘Did you know?’. Email marketers can create a well-constructed subject line with a question-based preheader to initiate engagement. 

3. Emojis 

Use different symbols and emojis to make your email stand out in a cluttered inbox. When using email marketing to promote or sell your products, emojis are the best way to lighten up your email by making it sound unique and exciting. However, there is always a limit to using emojis in preheaders. The overuse of emojis can backfire and result in a decrease in open rates. It is safe to say that emojis should be used strategically. 

4. Use numbers or facts 

An individual will open an email if they think it is authentic providing the relevant information. By using facts and numbers, you can add this sense of authenticity. The use of numbers in preheaders utilizes less space and is easier for the brain to process. With inserting specific facts, you should keep the character limit in mind. 

An example of numbers in preheaders would be: “20% off” or “24 hours to go!”

An example of facts in preheaders would be: “Drastic drop in Bitcoin.”

5. Unique Preheader 

People usually misunderstand that subject lines and preheaders are not the same thing. The preheader can not have the same information as the subject line. You have to treat the preheader as something completely different. For instance, if your subject line states that a sale is ending soon, rather than repeating the same thing in your preheader, you can insert a “Did you know” question. 

6. Bold statement 

A bold statement provides a message or information that the recipient wants to see. An example of a bold statement would be: “Our best offer yet…”.

7. FOMO 

The concept of FOMO or “the fear of missing out” creates a sense of urgency that is said to attract customers. You can use this to your advantage by creating a sense of urgency in your preheaders. By making a statement that gives a sense of FOMO, your readers will want to act on it ASAP, which will in return increase your open rates. You can use your preheader text to imply that the recipient will miss out on something if they do not take action soon. An example of this would be: “ Ends 4th September, Shop NOW!”

8. Add a human element

Sometimes individuals send emails to their junk because they think the emails they get are autogenerated and not directed towards them. Giving your email a human element through your preheader text can attract clients to open the email. Establishing a one-on-one connection is essential and beneficial. It improves your overall email performance. 

9. Keep your email preheader brief 

There are only a few things you can do to guarantee an increase in open rates. Different sites and devices have different preheader lengths. Gmail might have a specific character limit, than other email service providers, that will allow your preheader to not be cut off. Email preheaders on phones will be smaller compared to other devices.  In order to avoid your preheader text being cut, you can prioritize the first few words of your preheader that gives all the information you are trying to put out. You can use the information strategically within a short length too.

10. Use CTA 

A call to action is an interactive element that encourages the reader to take action. To motivate the recipient to take the desired action, CTA’s include offers that are hard to refuse, such as offering a demo, scheduling a call,, or a discount.  You can use this in your email preheaders to increase your conversion rates and ROI. You can engage people to open the email with a CTA, which will build curiosity for the reader. 

5 Examples of preheaders that worked

Here are five examples of email preheaders that were successful. 

1. Banana Republic 

The subject line and preheader both are pretty straightforward covering major aspects like the use of the word “savings”, and discount offers, that would encourage a recipient to open the email right away. 

Banana republic email preheader example

2. Shoes.com 

Shoes have followed the question-based approach for their preheader, encouraging the recipient to engage with them. 

email preheader example

3. Gold Violin 

Gold Violin are hitting the customer's FOMO side with the use of numbers. 

email preheader example

4. Thrillist 

Thrillist uses the human element and attracts customers through a bold statement in their preheader text. 

email preheader example

5. Gap 

Gap also makes use of a bold statement. Along with that, they make use of numbers and offer their customers deals that will be hard to miss. 

There are different ways and practices you can use to enhance your email and ensure an increase in the open rates. 

When it comes to email preheaders, they might seem like they’re small and not that important but the email preheaders can sometimes be the deciding factor of whether or not your email will get opened. Keeping all of this in mind, utilize these practices and craft the best email preheader to see an increase in open rates. 

If you are skeptical about adding a code for your email preheader, try using Mailmunch’s email template library to design stunning emails for your email marketing campaign. Plus, you can simply add the preheader text with the rest of the email copy without any coding!

Author Bio

Vaneezae Malli

With a keen interest in human behavior and digital marketing, Vaneezae works as a Marketing Analyst at Mailmunch. Vaneezae focuses on delivering the perfect content, be it writing, designing, or research to help customers at every step. Vaneezae is devoted to learning everything about design, marketing, and writing.


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