Elevating Email Open Rates: The Power of Preview Text

Are you striving to enhance your email click-through rates (CTORs)? Despite implementing industry best practices, are your emails grappling with lower open rates? It’s time to shift your focus to a crucial yet often overlooked element—the email preview text. This secondary subject line, also known as the pre-header or Johnson box, plays a vital role in influencing open rates and deserves strategic attention. In this article, we delve into the importance, best practices, and tips for optimizing email preview text.

The Significance of Email Preview Text:

While marketers prioritize elements like email design, CTAs, copy, and catchy subject lines, the preview text remains an untapped resource. Positioned right after the subject line in the inbox, the preview text is an opportunity to provide additional information, entice recipients, and improve open rates. Litmus research reveals that an informative or optimized preview text can boost open rates by up to 45%, emphasizing its impact on email performance.

Best Practices for Email Preview Text:

Be Creative and Avoid Clichés:

Ditch standard practices and consider the pre-header text as a second subject line. Differentiate primary and secondary subject lines to capture recipients’ attention. Examples include offering coupons and discounts, personalizing greetings, creating a sense of urgency with limited-time discounts, and ensuring the pre-header complements the subject line.

Fonts, Character Limit, and Alignment:

Simplicity is key in font and color choices, especially with the prevalence of mobile devices. Stick to legible fonts like Arial (12 points) and left-align the pre-header text for readability. The average character limit for pre-header text is around 75, but customization based on devices and clients is crucial. Aligning with an average subject line length of 50 characters ensures a seamless reading experience.

Hidden Preview Text:

For a cleaner header design, marketers can use hidden preview text, which won’t be displayed in the HTML email but will appear in the inbox after the subject. Achieved through HTML and CSS, this approach suits those prioritizing design simplicity.

Add Emoji:

Inject personality and catch viewers’ attention by incorporating emojis in the preview text. A strategically placed symbol can differentiate your email and increase engagement.

A/B Testing:

Conduct A/B tests with different preview text copies across various email clients to identify optimal performance. Analyzing campaign reports provides insights into which preview text resonates best with your audience.

Tips for Mobile Devices:

Front Load Keywords:

Given that 48% of email opens occur on mobile devices, strategically front-load keywords in the preview text, especially for devices like the iPhone 6 Plus, which displays three lines for preview text.

Maintain Font Size:

To prevent text overflow, maintain a font size of 12px, ensuring the entire message is visible within the preview box.

Left Align Copy:

Avoid viewing inconsistencies on different devices by left-aligning the copy in the preview text.

Use Concise Content:

Optimize the message for mobile users by keeping the content concise to avoid truncation in the preview display.


Elevate your email marketing strategy by recognizing the significance of preview text. Implementing creative practices, optimizing fonts and alignment, experimenting with hidden text, adding emojis, and conducting A/B tests contribute to higher open rates. Tailoring strategies for mobile devices further ensures a seamless and engaging experience for diverse audiences.