Email pre-headers are easy to implement and it helps boost your open and click-through rates but only few companies apply them. It could be because they’re not much familiar of it, they don’t know the value of it or they just don’t know how to do it correctly.
Definition of Email Pre-Header
As some of you who don’t know what an email pre-header is, it is a short text blurb that displays at the top portion of your email right above your graphics or fancy HTML. When your recipients view your message, this is the text that they will get to see first and this is the only text they get to see sometimes in the preview pane. The most common email pre-header is: “Can’t see images? Click here for the Web version.”
That is not the only thing that you can do to make your pre-header effective. Those email marketers who have put call to action links in the email pre-header claims that their click-through rates are much higher. The email pre-header is used as a teaser text in the inbox by Gmail, iPhone and Outlook 2007 that conveys additional piece of information that encourage readers to decide whether to delete your message or read it and take action.
Using the Email Pre-header as Call to Action
There are two ways to use the email pre-header. The first one is “view the Web version” or “add us to your safe-sender’s list.” The other way is to make calls to action primary like “Click here to see images”. This call to action is likely to catch the attention of your recipient and continue to read your email instead of deleting them rather than putting in “Take 20% off your favorite item.” This will likely to tell your readers to delete your message.
Apply the Pre-Header to Your Email
Try a little experiment using your Outlook 2007 if you have it. Go to your inbox and hit the “AutoPreview” from the drop down menu. You can now see A few extra lines of text now appear underneath each email subject line. In a typical email exchange with a friend or co-worker, this extra text comes directly from the email’s first sentence or two.
This extra text that you see from your email message is what appears first in your HTML code in a permission based email. Outlook will display the URL where the graphic file is when it is a picture or an image but if it is a link, it will be displayed by Outlook as a full URL address and not just a clickable text. Outlook displays the actual words if it’s pre-header text. Gmail and the iPhone handle teasers a little bit differently, ignoring images and HTML links, and just displaying actual text.
After the subject line, Gmail presents a shaded bit of teaser text. It is usually about 4-5 words unless the email subject line is super-short.
Tips on How to Create an Effective Pre-Header
a.) Visible Pre-header a Yes or a No?
Test your email messages in different email clients and see how they display especially in the preview pane with images disabled. You may be okay without using a pre-header. When the table of contents for your B2B newsletter already fit properly in the preview pane or your promotional email may already display a nice, clickable link at the top, then you no longer have then need for a pre-header text.
But what if your primary call-to-action or value proposition isn’t visible and clickable? If your email design is filled with images, the images might get blocked. Then this is where you will apply your pre-header that will only take you a few minutes to add at the top of your email.
b.) Test What Works Best
You can determine how email pre-headers help by trying it and observing the results. You have never applied pre-header in your past emails, try it by sending a regular version of your email to half of your list and send the email with the pre-header on the other half of your list. If you’ve been using the standard “click here to view images” pre-header, go ahead and send a call-to-action pre-header to half of your list. You can then compare your open and click-through rates for each version, and see who generates better results.
c.) Decide whether or not you need better inbox-teaser text.
Check what will display as a teaser text in your email by using Outlook AutoPreview mode. Does it display a long URL? Is it a request that won’t encourage the readers to open and take action? Or is it something that adds value to your email subject line?
If you’re using a teaser text that won’t entice the readers to take action, then you should consider applying an invisible pre-header at the top of your email.
It won’t take long for you to add. Just apply a 1 pixel x 1 pixel clear graphic image at the very top of your email then add your desired teaser text to the image’s Alt attribute. Both Outlook 2007 and Gmail display the Alt copy as teaser text in the inbox, but the invisible graphic won’t mess up with your existing design.