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What Is The Purpose Of Email Pre-Headers?

Wondering if you are still missing out on anything to ensure high open rates and conversions? Read on to learn how email pre-header text can help!

Icegram blog general

Last updated on January 17, 2024

Ever heard of small things that make huge differences?

No doubt, emails are a great way to bring in conversions. But even the best-crafted emails will miss out on conversions if they are not opened. I am sure that it might feel overwhelming to find that one trick to break through a noisy and crowded inbox.

Just imagine a whole lot of ideation, copywriting, proofing, design, coding and testing, gone in vain.

Want to tick all the boxes of a successful email marketing checklist?

Consider email pre-headers.

What is an email pre-header?

The email pre-header appears after the email subject line in the email inbox. It gives a small preview of the email text. Since it’s grayed out and placed on the right side of the subject line, it seems a little less relevant than the subject line.

In simpler terms, email pre-headers are a summary text that follows the subject line. In most cases, a pre-header text can be the difference between someone opening or not opening your email. This can still offer a valuable glimpse of what to expect in the email and whether or not they should engage in it.

While there is nothing wrong with not including it, refraining from writing the pre-header text can be like a missed opportunity.

What is the purpose of a pre-header?

Offers a preview of the emails

How exciting is a trailer of the movie you’ve been waiting to watch for months?
Pre-header texts also offer a similar and exciting glimpse into your message.

Besides the subject line, pre-header emails give you a moment to capture the readers’ attention. In simpler terms, they get a preview of what’s coming up in the email.
It offers a clearer idea if the email copy is relevant to them.

Reduces spam complaints

If the sender doesn’t customize the pre-header text, the email services might simply display a text snippet. This may include words such as ‘unsubscribe now’ or ‘view in browser’. Besides giving it a robotic look, it can also lead the audience to delete the email, especially if they want to refrain from a cluttered inbox or are running out of space.

Improve open rates

A high open rate is a marketer’s dream, isn’t it?
You’ve crafted an excellent message, with enticing graphics and everything looks perfect! However, how do you ensure that the email is seen and appreciated by the audience if it hasn’t even been opened?

An email pre-header text can significantly improve open rates as it gives a trailer of what to expect in the email. This happens as a result of adding more context to a subject line, or by explaining it further. The result? Better engagements and conversions with the campaign.

Avoids a random text

As mentioned above, if you don’t add a pre-header text, then the recipient’s email client will show random bits of information from the email. This default preview text can lead them to an undesirable route. This could be viewing the email in the browser or showcasing the unsubscribe option; both of which can be counter-productive.

Not only will it create a bad impression, but it will also give it a robotic look to it. A pre-header text ensures that these chances are not ruined by your email client.

Grabs the attention on the go

Remember that day, we forgot your phone at home?
Since a lot of action happens on the mobile, it can also increase open rates despite having a shorter screen and minimal word count. As per Upland, mobile phone users form a considerable portion of your subscribers because 62% of subscribers read emails on a space-starved mobile phone.

However, you must consider the word count to assess how the pre-header text will appear on the mobile screen. This ensures that your pre-header text isn’t cut out by the minimal phone space.

A great way to find the version that works for you is through A/B testing. This will refrain from wasting time in time occupying guesswork and help you with data that’s backed up!

How long should an email pre-header be?

Ideally, the email pre-header must be 40-130 characters long. The approximate length can be 100 characters. However, different email clients might have different text amounts next to the subject line.

However, as mentioned above, the rules for mobile users are different. The text for those pre-headers can be 30-55 characters. Needless to say, being mobile phone users, the text gets displayed even less. If they are iOS users, the text is likely to be cut even shorter. Sticking to the word count ensures that all your pre-header text is displayed perfectly to the audience without missing out on the crux of the message.

You can do so by placing the important parts of the message in the beginning, to ensure that the message was conveyed successfully.

Another practice to remember is to craft the subject line and pre-header text in a way that works together. This can help you in creating the curiosity magic just right.

Email pre-header best practices


Despite making the pre-headers shorter, they must not be so short that no information or meaning is apparent from them. Though there is no problem with short pre-headers, you must only note that they aren’t defeating the purpose. Email pre-headers must also not be so long that they sway away from communicating anything.

A quick tip: Send yourself an email and see how it will look to your audience. That’s a great way to find areas of improvement before you send those emails to your audience.


Personalization isn’t an alternative, it is a necessity!

Nowadays, audiences are delighted to hear from brands that strike a personal chord with them. That’s because it makes the content seem less robotic and also feels like a humane communication.

On the flip side, if you are using generic email templates then your audience is bound to feel being spammed. Rather than making them feel overwhelmed, strike up a conversation that feels like a friend reaching out to them. Personalization opens the door to building strong and long-lasting relations with loyal customers.

Use emojis

Ever spoken to a friend with a blank face? I am sure that will feel awkward!

Then why speak like that to your subscribers?

Emojis are the most promising tools in the box of email marketing,


It allows you to stand out and give a humane touch to your conversation and is a great way to infuse humor and creativity into your pre-headers.
Moreover, it interestingly breaks amidst heaps of texts. When your audience scrolls through your emails, emojis can successfully capture their attention.

But rather than just sprinkling emojis aimlessly, make sure to add those strategically.


Humans are curious beings and what better than curiosity to excite your audience?

Rather than practicing the basic tricks in the book, there’s a lot you can try! Here’s what you can do:

  • Ask a curiosity-inducing question
  • Convey an unfinished story
  • Highlight the value
  • Create urgency
  • Use power words and phrases
  • A question that implies what the audience must have forgotten
  • Showcase that you know something that can benefit them.

You can use this as a checklist when crafting pre-header text.

A quick tip is to leave your audience on a cliffhanger. This will further persuade them to read what is to follow in the email.

Create a sense of urgency

People are wired to make decisions based on mental models and psychological patterns. A prominent one is FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out). This occurs when people don’t want to miss out on something valuable.

These feelings can be evoked by saying limited time for an exclusive product or exclusive access.
Although the pre-header text can convey urgency, it must also deliver on the promise. If not then it may come across as email spam or clickbait.

Don’t repeat

There is nothing you can gain by saying the same thing twice.
So, refrain from conveying the same message in the subject line.

As the pre-header text is a second chance that allows you to build on the subject line, these elements should work cohesively with each other. Since the subject line is usually 30-75 characters long, the pre-header text gives you 100 more characters to build upon.
You can also create a story or flow in the subject line with the pre-header text. Adding a branding element is yet another aspect that you can work with. Now, that’s what we call balancing out interest and creativity.

Add a call-to-action

Sometimes, all you need to do is tell your audience to do what they should do next!

As with your emails, your pre-header texts can also include CTAs. This makes up for an additional way to direct your audiences to the desired goal.
However, keep it short, promise a benefit and make it sound easy. As for the CTA, it can also be a benefit that you are trying to promise through your emails.

As long as you are successful in getting your audience’s attention, you are doing it right!

Offer an Incentive

Why do people ignore emails? Because there is nothing in it for them!

And that’s exactly where you get an opportunity to set yourself apart – by showing them that you have something to offer. Lead your audience to the incentive by telling them that they can avail of this incentive only by reading the email.

While crafting the message for an incentive, know why your audience must consider your incentive in a sea of other offers.


Email marketing has turned out to be more valuable than ever! When this is the case, how do you take a lion’s share of what this goldmine has to offer?

Once you see the effects, it will be difficult to stop!

With email marketing tools available adding pre-header texts can be easier than before.

Wish to step up your email marketing game? Allow Icegram Express to help!

With accurate inbox delivery, spam-bot protection and list-clean ups, we are leaving nothing to chance!

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