Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Email Marketing and the Preheader

In this week's guest post, Sweeney Williams, Eloqua's Email Deliverabilty and Privacy Specialist looks at another great topic around email marketing - the preheader, and what it can do for your open rates. If you haven't already, be sure to also look at Sweeney's last guest post on doing an Email Deliverability health check.


I spent the latter part of 2009 with my agent looking at homes in downtown Toronto (glad that’s over) and I thought to myself; what better way to kick off my posts for 2010 than with a discussion about real estate. Specifically, that nice little piece of land right at the top of your email called the preheader. This area, usually reserved for your “View as a webpage” link is actually a powerful venue for increasing open and click rates if used correctly. Marketers who have placed their call to action in the preheader have seen response rates increase dramatically.

Consider this; popular email clients such as Gmail, Outlook (with autopreview enabled), and even the iPhone display preheader information BEFORE the email itself is opened.

Here’s how one looks in the Gmail preview:

In Outlook:

And on the iPhone:

As you can see, even with limited space you can get valuable information across without the email being opened, or having images displayed if it is. Note that in the Gmail example above, the amount of preheader text that is displayed depends wholly on the length of the subject line. Take a look at the difference with a longer subject line:

In Outlook, the display of preheader text is altered based on the justification used. The original example used left justify. Here’s how the same email displays if the text is centered:

So, adhere to these best practices to ensure your preheader is optimized:

• Left justify
• Keep subject lines short to maximize the area available for your preheader in clients like Gmail
• Place the most pertinent information in the first few words since those are the ones which will display in preview
• Ensure it is no longer than two lines, without extra line space
• Reinforce the main message of the email, and add a call to action. Most people just want to go straight to your site and skip the rest of the email (if the call to action is compelling enough)

Where can you set them up in Eloqua? In your predefined Headers. Navigate to Communicate->Email Marketing->Tools & Content Components->Headers. Create a new header or copy an existing one, then place your preheader message before the “view as a webpage” text:

Keep in mind that unlike the usual scenario these headers should NOT be reused as the message likely would not pertain to future emails. Name them appropriately so that they are not reused by others in your organization who may mistake them for reusable headers.

That’s your real estate tip for today. See you next time.