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Email Marketing

How to Write Better Preview Text to Get More People to Open Your Marketing Emails

You've designed a killer email with compelling content, engaging images, and an offer that is impossible to ignore. But we all know most emails aren't even seen.

In addition to a great subject line, there is one other component of the email your user sees that can increase open rates by up to 45%—the preview text.

Preview text may be just as important as the subject line and sender when it comes to getting your emails opened. Learn how to optimize your message previews in this brilliant blog.

Email Preview Text Best Practices

To get the biggest return from this small piece of text, it's important to know the basics.

In this blog, we will cover:

  1. What preview text is,
  2. Preview text in different email apps, and
  3. How to increase opens via preview text.

Let's start at the very beginning.

What is Preview Text?

Preview text is the small section or snippet of content pulled from the body of your email that is viewable and readable to subscribers before they even open your email. It is typically shown just below the From Line and Subject Line.

I like to think of it as the mannequin in a store window display. If you like what you see, you're going to go into that store. The same is true of preview text.

If you can communicate value to the subscriber with a compelling offer or interesting question, they are going to be much more likely to open your email. But before we get to composing the text, let's cover how preview text is viewed in different email applications.

Preview Text in Email Applications

The vast majority of email applications now support preview text. There are a few exceptions: BlackBerry, early versions of Outlook.com, and Lotus Notes.

If you have a subscriber base that is heavily skewed to those email applications, skip the rest of this blog and go directly to How to Write Email Subject Lines That Get Clicks. You will have to rely on a catchy from line and subject line for them. Otherwise, carry on.

When testing your email blasts, send it to a variety of accounts so you can see firsthand what is displayed. The placement of preview text varies, though it is generally either under or directly following the subject line. Tor the most part, you can count on one line of text being visible.

Apple gives additional space to the preview text, allowing up to three lines. When it comes to the total character count, browser size, email app, and subject line length all factor into how much preview text is viewable. A good rule of thumb is to stick to 40-90 characters.

Make the Most of Preview Text

1. Test

Every Inbound Marketer loves a solid A/B test and preview text is an opportunity for testing. Once you've configured your email for preview text, try out a couple different variations. Test out different subject line and preview text variations.

Learn more about writing the perfect subject line here.

Once you've discovered the perfect combination of subject line plus preview text, roll it out to your list.

2. Remember Keywords

You already know which keywords your customer persona responds to—so use them. Use your character count tool and front load your keywords into the character count.

Having buzz words your clients react to in the preview text will increase the likelihood of opening the email.

3. Optimize Results with New Content

Here's a fishing analogy. The From Line is the hook, the Subject Line is the worm, and your preview text is the reel. The hook and worm may grab your subscribers' attention, but the reel is the tool that pulls them in. So don't add another worm.

Don't repeat your subject line.

Avoid repetition and include a short form CTA, a highlight of an article in the newsletter, or an overview of the juicy contents they'll find inside. Include their first name in a call to action and see open rates climb.

If your email open rates are dismal or you're simply looking for a pop in traffic this month, spend some time on preview text before you send your next email campaign.

Follow the rules and guidelines above and reap the benefits of higher open rates and better conversions. The preview text is your subscriber's first impression of your brand, so make the most of it.

Free Ebook: Climbing the Inbound Marketing Mountain

Written by Ryan Scott / June 14, 2016

is the Inbound Marketing Artist at Lean Labs. His marketing experience ranges from colleges to SMBs, and tech startups. When not marketing, he's sure to be enjoying something nerdy.

Articles by Ryan Scott