Email Preview Text: What is it and why is it so important?

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Healthcare professionals – Millenials. GenX. Boomers. HCPs across all age categories share one thing in common: life. Regardless of age, they juggle priorities and struggle with time. The reality is that between conference calls and back-to-back meetings there are only a few minutes to grab coffee, update Twitter feed, peek at Instagram, and check emails.

About those emails… do you think there is enough time to read all 100+ received in the last few hours? Not hardly. You’ve heard it before, “There’s just not enough time in the day.” The only emails that will be opened, clicked through, and paid any attention at all are the emails that are important or stand-out. So, how do you make sure your emails pop from the clutter and catch the eye of busy, multi-tasking healthcare professionals prompting them to open and engage? Two words: preview text.

As HCPs quickly scroll through emails, it is important to grab their attention, peak their interest, create intrigue and curiosity, and move them to open your email. The subject line provides HCPs with the topic, and the preview text offers the key message or teaser to get readers to take the next natural step – open the email.

What is preview text?Preview text is a snippet of text extracted from the body of the email. The purpose of preview text is to introduce the content that will be communicated in more detail in the email.

The idea of preview text is similar to the “Johnson Box” which is commonly found at the top of direct mail, containing the key message of the piece. It has been adapted to the email format, providing the additional benefit of allowing the most important message in the email to be visible in the preview pane of an email reader.

Where is preview text in the structure of an email?
Preview text is located underneath the From Name and Subject Line, and before the company header or body of email. Preview text may also be referred as a “pre-header” due to its location.

Why is preview text important?
When healthcare professionals are checking email between appointments, meetings, and paperwork, preview text serves as one of the most important elements in the design of an effective email to grab their attention and cut through the clutter. In addition to the subject line, preview text is yet another tool to catch the readers’ eyes and stop and encourage them to open and click-through your email instead of skipping or even deleting. Ultimately, by optimizing your preview text, you may increase your open rates up to 45%.

How can preview text improve open rates?

  1. Grab recipients’ attention encouraging them to open

  2. Influence behavior by moving HCPs to open, scroll, and click increasing overall engagement in content and call-to-action

Tips for effective preview text:

  1. Construct a teaser message that is on point
    Make sure your preview text is straightforward and to the point summarizing the content of the email message. Don’t waste the opportunity to grab your reader’s attention and curiosity. The preview text is like a Super Bowl ad… “it’s gotta be good.” Use the preview text as a “teaser” for the rest of the email with the purpose of making the reader open and scroll for more.
     
  2. Elaborate on the subject line
    The shorter the subject line, the better it performs. Preview text allows you to add a little bit more detail while keeping the subject line at the most optimal length.
     
  3. Include strong action words
    Preview text can create a sense of urgency with a strong call to action. It can move readers to open sooner instead of being skimmed over in the inbox, put off being read until later, or deleted after some time when the inbox has become inundated with other off-topic emails.
     
  4. Limit characters and length
    The preview text box does not have a character limit. However, the number of characters that actually display varies among desktop, mobile, and webmail email clients and depends on whether or not they even support the feature. Try to keep characters between 35 and 40.
    For example:
    • Gmail and AOL display two lines of preview text right after the subject line
    • iPhone 6 renders up to three lines of preview text
    • Windows phones only show 40 characters before cutting off the message
  5. Test Preview Text
    Use A/B testing to determine what works and adapt as needed to guarantee that the preview text resonates with the audience as intended. Not only will this help increase open-rate success, but it may teach you valuable things about your readers in the process.

How do you add preview text to an email campaign?
Make sure your preview text adds value to the overall open strategy, email message, and readers’ time. Be careful not to repeat information, but instead keep it fresh, building off of the subject line, and leading into the main point of the email.

The preview text can be as simple as using the first line of copy in the body of your message or can also be hard-coded and even hidden with a code/snippet/hidden div. It is important to remember that some email clients such as Gmail either strip or ignore styles in the head of an HTML email.

If you are using preview text, make sure that link text or default settings such as “Having trouble viewing this email?” or “Forward to a friend” are coded elsewhere in the message. Placement of generic text in preview text adds no value to the campaign and excites no one.