First of all, a pre-header is the text that appears after your subject line within an email client. pre-headers have been around for years and they are a feature of Outlook 2007 and Gmail. They have become more important recently because the mail app for iPhone now displays a pre-header. With the iPhone as the new arrival on the pre-header scene, it has certainly tipped the balance of whether it’s worth including. The truth is it’s always been an easy way to increase your chances of an open with little detriment to the look of your campaign.

The pre-header is made up of the first line of readable text within an email. 90% of the time this will include the text ‘Having problems viewing this email?’ which obviously does nothing to help your chances of tempting the weary recipient from opening your email.

The benefits

When competing for attention in your recipient’s inbox, the pre-header may be the deciding factor. This is all the more important with mobile devices, as they are often used to filter email for later viewing. Using the pre-header effectively will hopefully keep your email in the ‘save for later’ box rather than being deleted straight away.

Should I be using pre-headers?

The easy answer is yes. There isn’t really anything to lose. The important thing to consider is that if you often use subject lines that are great at tempting recipients to open. For example with the subject line ‘See our great offers inside’, you may not want to give the whole game away in the pre-header. Particularly if you have hyped the offers up (which isn’t a good idea anyway).

How to use a pre-header

The most straight forward method is to simply place some text just above your online version. Depending on how much text you want to display, this may be a little clunky and take up a significant amount of prime real estate that you would like to use for other things. If you are happy get your hands dirty and have a look at some HTML code, there are some easy ways to hide your pre-header away.

You can use the below method to hide it away, only to be seen next to the subject line on compatible clients:

<style type="text/css">
span.pre { display: none !important; }

<body><span class="preheader">Enter your text here</span>...

The very important aspect to remember with this method, is to remember it’s there. Worst case scenario is that the text is completely irrelevant to your campaign and causes a drop in opens rather than the jump you need.