- beehiiv Blog
- Mastering Email Preview Text: A Guide to Boosting Engagement
Mastering Email Preview Text: A Guide to Boosting Engagement
Crafting Compelling Email Previews: Tips and Best Practices
Table of Contents
Mastering Email Preview Text: A Guide to Boosting Engagement
Perfecting your email preview text may seem like a small detail, but it can give you a massive edge in the battle for attention that takes place in your readers’ inboxes every day.
How important is email preview text? In one study, 24% of recipients said they look at the preview text when deciding whether to open an email — but another study found that 90% of email marketing campaigns don’t include a custom preview.
That’s why adding preheader text to your emails can increase your open rate by over 30 percent.
If you already use preheader text, strengthening it can boost your open rates significantly — one marketing group saw an improvement of 8 percent when they did a side-by-side test changing only the preview text.
Your email preview text gives you an opportunity to entice recipients with a glimpse of what's inside your message, compelling them to click and explore further. A well-crafted snippet can increase open rates, improve click-through rates, and ultimately contribute to the success of email marketing campaigns.
In this guide, we’ll delve into strategies and best practices for perfecting your email preview text. From understanding its significance to mastering techniques and language that drive opens and engagement, we'll equip you with the knowledge you need to make your emails shine in any context.
Why Trust Us? Lauren Haas is a marketing expert who runs her own boutique agency and writes about marketing for top-tier companies like beehiiv.
Understanding Email Preview Text
What is Email Preview Text?
Email preview text is a brief snippet of text that appears next to the subject line in an email inbox. It offers recipients a glimpse into the content of the email and can influence their decision to open it or not.
Preview text can appear in different locations, depending on the email client app. For example, in Gmail, the preview text appears beside the subject line in the readers’ inbox. In Apple Mail iOS, the preview text sits just below the subject line.
In Gmail, the email preview text is called a “snippet,” while Outlook refers to it as the “message preview.”
From the sender’s viewpoint, you can think of it as a subhead to your subject line — a little teaser that helps grab attention and entices readers to click and explore further.
Preview Text vs Preheader Text
Some people use the terms “preview text” and “preheader text” interchangeably, but technically they are two different things.
The preview text — which is what we’re discussing in this guide — is the snippet of text that appears right after the subject line in an email client's inbox. It gives recipients a glimpse of what the email contains and entices them to open it.
On the other hand, preheader text refers to a small line of text that appears above the header at the top of the email body. You’ll often see a link in the preheader area that allows the reader to view the email in their browser, which is helpful for sharing email content on social media.
At one time, it was popular to use the preheader space to add a marketing message, but that practice has fallen out of favor as email clients are now able to display preview text.
You’ll often see people still using the phrase “preheader” when they mean “preview text,” so you’ll need to infer the meaning from context in many cases.
Crafting Effective Email Preview Text
How can you make the most of your preview space to improve engagement with your readers? There are various techniques and best practices you can follow to write irresistible email preview text.
Email Preview Text Best Practices
Crafting compelling email preview text is crucial for grabbing the attention of your subscribers and increasing open rates. Here are some best practices to follow:
Be concise: Keep your preview text short and sweet, ideally under 50 characters. This ensures it will be fully visible on most email clients and mobile devices.
Highlight value: Use the preview text to convey the benefits or key message of your email. Make it clear why opening the email would be valuable to the recipient.
Focus on the reader: Make sure you’re sending “you” messages instead of “we” messages. For example, instead of “Our Biggest Sale Ever!” try “Your Biggest Savings Ever!”
Enhance your brand image: Even people who don’t open your email will see the preview text, so use this opportunity to promote your brand’s voice and identity.
Create curiosity: Tease your audience by hinting at what's inside without giving away too much information. A well-crafted preview text can pique curiosity and entice readers to open the email.
Personalize when possible: Tailor your preview text to match each subscriber's interests or preferences whenever feasible, using your list segments or email personalization features.
Avoid spammy language: Stay away from overly promotional or spam-like language in your preview text, as it may trigger spam filters or discourage recipients from opening your emails.
Partner with your subject line: Treat your preview text as a subhead, or tagline that pairs with your subject line to generate interest. For example, if your headline asks a question, your preview text can tease the answer.
Don’t make it essential: Some email clients may not display the preview text, so you still want to write subject lines that can stand alone.
Don’t bury your point: Get the gist of your preview text into the first few words in case your reader’s email client doesn’t display the entire message.
Test and optimize: Experiment with different variations of preview text to see what resonates best with your audience. A/B testing can help you identify which approaches yield higher open rates.
Remember, crafting compelling email preview text requires a balance between being concise, engaging, and relevant to capture subscribers' attention in a crowded inbox environment.
Recommended Email Preview Text Language
Here’s a list of well-known power words that tend to move people to action. Consider pairing some of these in your subject lines and preview text messages.
However, you should avoid using too many of these words at once. Packing your subject line and preview text with this language could turn people off and trigger spam filters.
You might want to create your own internal list of powerful, emotionally resonant words and phrases relevant to your business. Build a vocabulary of words that are most likely to appeal to your target market.
Email Preview Text Marketing Strategies
When writing your preview text messages, consider these tried-and-true marketing strategies. If you know your target market well, you can probably identify which strategies will work best with your audience.
Bandwagon: This strategy implies that everyone else is doing something and you’ll be left behind if you don’t join in. To use the bandwagon strategy in your email preview, try language like “Join 20,000 users…” or “Your classmates already love it.”
Avant-Garde: Some people love to be early adopters. Use this strategy to engage their desire to be an innovator and stay ahead of others. Incorporate preview text like “Shhhh…no one knows yet” or “Be the first…”
Snob Appeal: If your target market is a well-to-do client who spends freely, you can position yourself using snob appeal. This approach implies that your product is used by people who are better/smarter/richer than others. Try phrases like “If you know fine wines…” or “Discerning clients know the difference.”
Loaded Words: Using value-laden words like home, family, abundance, or patriotic helps associate your product or service with those ideals. Preview text lines of this type might read, “Create a cozy home for your family” or “Show your patriotic spirit.”
Testimonial: A celebrity endorsement lets you use a well-known name to capture attention and associate your product with their qualities. If you can include a prominent, highly-respected person’s name in your preview text, then do it!
Facts and figures: Some people respond extremely well to data and this strategy capitalizes on just that. Examples of preview text lines might include: “Lowers your energy costs by 23%” or “Boost your garden’s growth by 15%.”
Special offer: Who doesn’t love an exclusive discount or deal? Your email preview is the perfect space to highlight a special offer with language like “Inside: Your exclusive 20% discount”
Urgency: Why should the reader act right now? Give them a reason in your preview text. Try phrases like “Act now — This deal will sell out fast” or “ Last time you’ll see this price!"
Test different strategies over time to see what fits your business and gets the best response from your target market.
Email Preview Text Examples
Let’s take a look at some compelling examples of preview text from recent real-life email campaigns. All of these screenshots were taken in Gmail on a Mac laptop.
This preview text works because it includes very specific items and prices.
Brad’s Deals is a daily email service that alerts readers to some of the best deals currently being offered by top brands.
In this example, the brand used the subject line space to highlight Kohl’s upcoming Black Friday sale. The preview text showcases a range of specific deals, including clothing, throws, and some holiday items.
The whole message doesn’t display in the preview area on this device, but there’s enough content here to drive engagement. A reader who isn’t interested in Kohl’s sale in general might still want to see those $11 fleece items or $8 throws, for instance.
Bonus technique: By using vertical bars to separate the items, Brad’s Deals manages to list several sale items with pricing in a tiny space.
This preview text enhances the subject line beautifully.
While the subject line makes it very clear that this email is offering one year of Washington Post for $29, the preview text clarifies that this price is a discount of over 50%.
The marketing team even squeezed in the selling point that the paper offers global coverage for this great price.
This email is a perfect example of the urgency strategy mentioned above.
The subject line promises some deals, and it can stand independently without the preview text if necessary. But the preview text conveys a sense of urgency and a reason to open this email immediately — these deals are going fast, and the reader will miss out if they don’t shop immediately.
Using a question to pique interest is a great subject line strategy.
Using your email preview text to tease the answer to the question is an even better strategy. The target market for this cauliflower pizza crust is people who are currently not able to enjoy pizza because of gluten sensitivity or carbohydrate cutting, so this email preview will draw clicks from exactly the right people.
This is a good example of the avant-garde technique. This email subject line is designed to appeal to people who like to be ahead of the pack, and the preview text adds the extra punch of letting the reader know that crowds will be taking advantage of this offer, so they need to act now if they want to be an early adopter.
The text inside the email continues to those who want to get there first:
“Want to secure the best deal before anyone else? Avoid the crowds and swap ‘must-visit’ for ’lesser-known.’ Be the first to enjoy tranquil mornings and memorable get-togethers with our Sunrise Deals!
This combination of subject line and preview text is packed with techniques.
First, it’s driving the brand image forward. Lizzo’s YITTY shapewear brand is tied to her youthful, vibrant image as a pop star. The extended spelling of “new” and the textspeak spelling of “4 U” and “rly” drive that image forward, even if the recipient doesn’t open the message.
The subject line/preview combo packs in no less than four words from our power words list — new, you, deal, and viral.
While the subject line can stand alone, the preview text is working hard. It’s enhancing the brand image, enticing the reader with a promise of deals, and employing the bandwagon strategy by implying that these products are going viral.
Here’s a very good example of an effective B2B email subject line and text preview.
The subject line promises some trending software solutions. But the preview text is much more interesting.
It starts with the word “discover,” which is on the list of power words.
Then it uses the word “popular,” a bandwagon appeal word, implying that everyone else has already "discovered” these solutions, and the reader might be left behind.
But the phrase “other industry leaders” is especially juicy. The reader will surely want to know what the leaders in their industry are using, so that’s pretty straightforward (with a hint of snob appeal).
Using the word “other” in front of “industry leaders” implies that the reader deserves to be lumped into that category. This simple word adds a bit of flattery with just five letters. Well done, Capterra!
Email Preview Text Length
How Long Should Email Preview Text Be?
When it comes to the length of email preview text, there is no one-size-fits-all answer. However, some guidelines can help you make the most of this valuable real estate.
Generally, you want to keep your email preview text between 35-90 characters, and ideally less than 50. This length ensures that the text is concise and doesn't get cut off in most email clients.
Remember that different devices and email clients may display varying amounts of preview text, so it's essential to aim for a length that works well across platforms.
While shorter preview texts are effective in capturing attention and encouraging recipients to open the email, longer ones can provide more context or entice readers with a compelling teaser. Ultimately, the ideal length will depend on your specific content and audience.
It's worth noting that testing different lengths and analyzing engagement metrics can help you determine what works best for your particular audience. So don't hesitate to experiment and find the sweet spot for your email preview text length!
Start Writing Compelling Email Previews
Mastering the art of writing compelling email previews is crucial for capturing the attention and engagement of your audience. By following the tips and best practices mentioned in this guide, you should significantly improve your email open rates and click-through rates.
If you're looking for a powerful email platform that can help you optimize your email previews and enhance your overall strategy, look no further than beehiiv, the email platform built for growth and marketing.
With its user-friendly interface, advanced analytics, and customizable templates, beehiiv is the perfect tool to help you create engaging email campaigns.