Email Preview Texts: How It Can Help To Improve Your Open Rate

An eye-catching preview text can mean the difference between getting high open rates and your email landing in the spam folder. This article will provide an insight into the best practices for creating a compelling preview text.

Email Preview Texts: How It Can Help To Improve Your Open Rate

Considering the number of marketing emails sent each day, it has become more challenging than ever to capture the attention of users. How do you break through a noisy email inbox and increase your email open rate?

While most marketers rely on crafting a compelling subject line to entice an open, the truth is that it may not be enough to do the job. This is where the preview text comes in. It works as an extension for your email subject line. An enticing subject line and compelling preview text are the right combinations for increasing your email open rates.

In this article, you'll learn what a preview text is, and the best ways to use it to increase your open rates.

Let's get started!

Table of content

  1. What is a preview text?
  2. How long should a preview text be?
  3. Best practices for creating a preview text
  4. Wrapping up

What is a preview text?

An email preview text is a small line of text that appears below (or beside) the subject line in an email inbox. It gives your readers an idea of what to expect if they decide to read your emails. The ultimate goal of the preview text is to get readers to open your email.

Normally in gray, the preview text can appear in different ways based on the device and email service provider used by the recipient. For example, it can appear differently in Gmail, Outlook, and Yahoo. It can either appear next to the subject line or beneath it.

Here’s an example of what a preview text can look like on mobile:

An example of what a preview text can look like on mobile. (Source)

Here’s an example of what a preview text looks like on a desktop screen:

An example of what a preview text looks like on a desktop screen. (Source)

Preview texts are interchangeably referred to as Preheader texts by a lot of marketers. However, they are not exactly the same. Preview texts are intentionally created as a summary of the email and are hidden within the email itself. Preheader text on the other hand is the text above the header part of the email which may or may not be hidden. It’s therefore understandable that they are used to refer to the same thing. When a preview text is not set, the preheader text which is the first set of text in the email is used as the preview text.

Now, let's explain  some of the reasons why crafting a good preview text is important for your email campaigns :

1. Opportunity to stand out

If you don't work on your preview text, email service providers will do it for you. The small line of text is extrapolated from the first text in your email content.

In most cases, the text displayed may lack the ability to attract your readers’ attention. It may give the impression that you don't know what you're doing or you're too lazy to create a compelling line of text.

Besides, the preview provides the opportunity to attract a reader's eye, so why waste valuable space by using boring words?

2.  Intrigue your audience

If your text is not compelling enough then there's a low chance that your reader will open your emails. Even if you spend a great deal of time crafting a subject line, you need a great preview text to support your subject line.

Think of your preview text as an extension that provides more information, encourages your reader to open your email and read your message.

3. Reduce spam complaints

As we mentioned earlier, if you don't customize your preview text, email service providers will automatically select the first line of your text from your emails.

This may include words like "have trouble viewing this email?", "unsubscribe now" or "view in browser". Check out this example of a preview text gone wrong:

An example of a preview text gone wrong.

This doesn't give a good first impression. It appears robotic and subscribers may not hesitate to mark your email as spam or delete it especially if they are running out of storage space.

As a result, your sender's reputation may be affected negatively, hence your readers will not engage with your subsequent emails.

4. Increase email open rate

The first thing people do when they receive an email is:

  • check the sender's name
  • read the subject line to know if it's exciting enough
  • and read the preview text to know if the email is relevant to them.

If your preview text is relevant to your user, it can convince them to open your email.

How long should a preview text be?

Now that you've learned the basics of a preview text, how long should it be? There's a limited amount of space, this means that your preview text can only contain 50-130 characters long. This means that your preview text must be short and meaningful containing the most important points of your email.

However, you also need to remember that preview text appears differently on mobile and desktop devices.

Here are a few things to remember when deciding on the length of your preview text:

  • Due to the limited amount of space, mobile email clients usually display less of your preview text. The character length is normally 30-55.
  • Try to not make your preview text too short, else email clients may select text from the first line of your email. This can make your preview text too clunky.
  • Preview texts are usually longer on desktop email clients.

Best practices for creating a preview text

1. Differentiate from your subject line

Your subject line and preview text shouldn't pass the same message. The preview text provides more opportunity to build on your subject line by adding more information, so why say the same thing twice?

You can build on your subject line by adding more information. For instance, your subject line can contain 30-75 characters. Preview text, on the other hand, can give you additional 100 characters for wordplay.

Here is an example of preview text that clearly stands out from the subject line:

An example of preview text that clearly stands out from the subject line.

2. Build curiosity

Another way you can capture the attention of your audience is by sparking curiosity. You can make your audience anticipate your offer by sprinkling traces of mystery in your preview text. This way, you can pique the interest of the majority of your subscriber base. Here are some ways you can use curiosity in your preview text:

  • Ask a question that sparks curiosity (example: do you have what it takes to be a millionaire?
  • Sprinkle in emojis to trigger emotions

Here is an example of preview text that sparks curiosity just right:

An example of preview text that sparks curiosity.

3. Include a compelling call-to-action

A compelling call-to-action can be an added incentive to get your readers to open your email.

All you need to do is clearly state what you want your readers to do.

To make your preview call-to-action more compelling, here are some tips you can apply:

  • Keep your call-to-action short
  • Promise a benefit
  • Use clear words that are easy to understand

4. Include an incentive

It’s without a doubt that an incentive can easily entice users to open your email. People won’t hesitate to accept an offer as long as it's valuable to them. If your email campaign is running a sales deal, you can include a discount offer in your email preview text rather than the subject line. Some examples of incentives include:

  • Discount offer
  • Free gift
  • Buy one and get one free

Here’s an example of a preview text with a compelling incentive:

An example of a preview text with a compelling incentive

5. A/B testing to improve performance

The best way to know what works and doesn't work for your brand is to run an A/B test. Testing provides the opportunity to identify what your audience resonates with. Do emojis make any difference? What kind of discount offer will drive the most impact? With A/B testing, you can discover hidden facts about your email content, subject line, and preview text. As a result, you can identify the techniques that drive the most click-throughs and conversions.

6. Use personalization points

Personalization is an effective technique that can significantly increase your email open rates as long as it's done the right way. You can insert your recipient's name or location in the preview text to create a feeling of rapport. You have more chances of capturing your reader's attention when you include personal information about them. Here is an example of a preview text that uses personalization well:

An example of a preview text that uses personalization. (Source)

6. Consider mobile users

According to research, 60% of emails are opened on mobile devices. The preview text appears shorter on mobile devices. So, you need to consider mobile devices as you craft your preview text.  

7. Use FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out)

FOMO is a powerful marketing tactic that can easily motivate your users to open and read your emails. It's why most marketers and business owners leverage it in their marketing campaigns. For example, a phrase like, "limited stock available, don't miss out" can easily trigger FOMO. People don't like to feel like they are missing out on something valuable, so they won't hesitate to take action. Here is an example of a preview text that uses FOMO well:

An example of a preview text that uses FOMO.

Wrapping Up

Don't rely on your subject line to do all the work. You can fully optimize your preview text to show your audience more context on what your email is about. This way, there are more chances of increasing your email open and conversion rates. Use the tips mentioned above to guide you as you craft your email preview text. Remember to run A/B testing so you can identify what works best for you and your audience.

With Engage, you can create a compelling preview text (with or without personalization) when drafting your email using our application or your email gateway that is already integrated. You also get to preview your draft email on a mobile or desktop screen, to see how it all ties together towards improving your open rate. Sign up for free!