A preheader is a small section that appears at the top of your email, above your message content.

A lot of companies use a call to action in pre-headers in their email marketing campaigns to encourage recipients to open and read their emails – so how can you effectively use pre-headers in your campaigns?

Here are some ways we’ve seen pre-headers used effectively in email campaigns:

1. Include an online version link of the email

If people cannot see the full email via their mobile device, give them the option to view it on a webpage to encourage them to click through the email and see what you have to say.

2. Deliver a punchy compelling summary of the email to get subscribers to open the email

People are busy. Many people scan emails rather than read them top-to-bottom, and many use Gmail-style text snippets or their email program’s preview pane to determine which emails to read. It needs to be a short and sweet summary that the recipient can quickly glance at. Giving people an overview of why they should read your email can increase the odds that they’ll actually do so.

3. The proper placement

The marketing preheader should be in the top left of the email. Your functional preheader text (such as add to address book, unsubscribe, forward to a friend) should be in the top right corner.

4. Character count

Be aware of the length of the preheader text that will be displayed in the inbox preview. This length varies depending on the ISP. iPhone’s display about 140 characters (in the vertical view) regardless of subject length. Gmail shows about 100 characters for the subject line (this number can vary based on the screen size). Some ISP’s like Hotmail don’t show any.

Try to focus on only a few of the above for campaigns, also do A/B testing to see what works best to your recipients.