Sending out an email campaign means you need a solid strategy if you want a great response rate from your audience. Crowded inboxes filled with subject lines that all sound the same make it easy for people to tune you out. The good news is that there’s an underutilized item in your toolkit to help get your message noticed- the email preheader.

A preheader is the first bit of text in an HTML email, and displays underneath the subject line when you’re viewing your inbox. That’s why some refer to the preheader as a second subject line, and when used wisely it can increase the likelihood the recipient will open the email. I often see text like “view web version” beneath subject lines because that’s the first thing in the email. What a missed opportunity! With a little planning during content development and design, you can easily craft a clever preheader to make your email stand out from the rest.

Keep in mind that many email clients include settings that allows users to customize their inbox, and some people in your audience may not see preheader text. That’s okay. The preheader is still part of the content and will be visible when viewing the full email.

A Few Tips

When you’re planning the design for your email, make sure the very first element is your preheader text. Beyond that it’s up to your creativity to use the preheader to help increase your response rate.

  • Use the preheader to elaborate on your subject line
  • Write something attention grabbing
  • Think about making the preheader a call to action and make it a link
  • Keep the preheader short and simple since inbox preview space is typically limited


I think Williams-Sonoma consistently does a nice job pairing their subject lines with preheaders. Here’s an example of one of their holiday promotions.