This article by VerticalResponse CEO and founder Janine Popick originally appeared on

If you’re using email marketing to keep in touch with customers and prospects, you probably spend a lot of time coming up with that perfect subject line to get as many people as possible to open your emails.

You probably also spend a lot of time trying to whittle the subject line down to around 50 characters, which is typically all that can fit in an email client’s window before it gets cut off. I know, I know, there’s so much you want to say!

Here’s a little secret: You can say more in the pre-header of your email.

If you don’t know what a pre-header is, you’re not alone. We get this question a lot since email marketing is what we do. The pre-header area is nothing more than what you include in the very top of your email. Here’s an example, using a recent VR Buzz marketing newsletter. The subject line is about 10 awesome events, but the pre-header tells the reader that the email also contains eight tips for creating a top-notch blog:

The pre-header has become increasingly important because of the growing number of people who are looking at their emails on their mobile devices. Many people have their mobile settings set so they can at least browse the first few lines of an email without actually clicking to open it. That’s a huge opportunity for you to include something at the top of your email that gets your readers’ attention and entices them to open it. Check out the same VR Buzz email on an iPhone:

Here are three pre-header ideas I can think of off the top of my head: 

  1. Phone number. If your subject line had a killer offer and your pre-header said, “Call us at 800-555-1212 to get this offer,” all your readers would have to do is click the phone number on their phone to call. Pretty cool, huh? I am on the email list of one of my favorite restaurants whose menu changes every day, and they fit their main course plus the reservation phone number in the pre-header of the email.
  2. Newsletter article. If you’ve got an email newsletter and you include what you think is the catchiest article headline in the subject line, why not include the second catchiest one in the pre-header? If the first one didn’t get subscribers to open your email, maybe the second one will!
  3. Mobile site. If you’ve got a mobile version of a landing page that you want to send mobile users to, include the mobile link in the pre-header and the normal link in the rest of your email. You may find an increase in your overall conversions once people get to that page.

Using a pre-header in your email marketing is a no-brainer, in my opinion, and super-easy to include in your next campaign. Are you using pre-headers? How are they working to increase your response rates?

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