Most modern email readers display a snippet of text from the beginning of each email as a teaser that helps users know whether it is something they want to open and read. You can see this small bit of text in Outlook, Gmail, Yahoo Mail, Apple’s Mail.app client, and even the iPhone email application. This text is also what your reader will see if their email client has blocked all of your big pretty images. Some marketers refer to this text as the message preheader.
You probably already know how important a compelling title is for your email marketing campaign’s open/read rate. Good ad copy always begins with a interesting, informative headline. The headline’s job is to sell the sales copy, so that the sales copy will be able to sell the product. You can use the email snippet text to enhance the allure of your headline, to provide extra information, or to strongly direct attention to a call for action.
In traditional advertisement copywriting, the first line is one of the most important pieces of text in the entire ad, article, or sales letter. It is often seen as second only to the headline itself. The job of the first line is to convince the reader that they want to keep reading.
The email teaser can very effectively serve this function, because it gives the reader a window into the message you want them to read. You may not be able to predict how many words of teaser copy will be displayed in the reader’s email client, so try stack the beginning of your sentence with language that is vivid, exciting, and seductive. Introduce something out of the ordinary, provoke curiosity, or promise to answer a nagging question for your demographic. If you do your job well, your open/read count should see a strong increase.
Another tactic for utilizing the email preheader text is to pack it with important information that would have been too much for the title. This way you can formulate a punch, attention-getting headline for the title, and immediately back it up with a solid reason for opening and reading the message.
This one-two punch is great if your readers are heavy internet and email users, who will tend to quickly pre-screen their messages. You quickly grab their attention, and then offer a quick justification for why that attention was justified. Again, you have no way of knowing how much information will fit into the email browser’s preview snippet, so aim for compact and concrete nuggets of information. Numbers, percentages, promises.
If you’re the type of marketer that likes to strike early and strike often, then you may feel attracted to the idea of using the snippet text in your email campaigns as a direct call to action. And your instincts may not be wrong. Many marketers report excellent results from this technique.
The very first line of the email is a great place to pitch an exclusive offer, a special discount, or even to request that the reader forward your email to a friend.
In many cases you’ll want to mix and match these techniques to make the most of your email campaign. And the only way you can ever really know which ad copy is the most effective in getting your desired results is to test multiple different versions against one another.
If you’re using our ActiveCampaign Email Marketing software, this is going to be a lot easier. All you have to do is write up multiple versions of your email preheader copy, tell the software what percentage of your list to use as a test sample, and let it choose the winning ad copy based on the actions of your readers.