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Optimize the Preview Text
Optimize the Preview Text

Get more opens and conversions

Amanda Payne avatar
Written by Amanda Payne
Updated over a week ago

An email message's preview text is, I think, an undervalued piece of digital real estate that deserves more careful attention.

Here's why. For many people (like me), the inbox looks like organized chaos. Very few people dedicate their time and mental energy to reading it all. In fact, some folks discovered that people scan in an F pattern. Eyes move right, back left and then down, and to the right a bit. Even if the F hypothesis is partially accurate some of the time, it highlights the importance of preview text.

That's the small bit of space after the subject line that scanners actually look at before shifting their eyes left and further down the screen.

The challenge for email marketers is to squeeze enough value into that cramped digital box to motivate a click. L.L.Bean Canada (and others) do a pretty good of that, as shown in the screenshot above.

More reasons to rethink preview text

Beyond value, there are other reasons to enhance your preview text writing skills.

  • First Impressions - Preview text can make a good or bad impression. It's the second thing readers see after the subject line, so it plays a role in building trust and demonstrating credibility.

  • More information - Preview text can inform. Use it to clarify or expand on the subject line, or provide a teaser.

  • Avoid spam - Many email clients use the preview text to help determine whether an email might be spam or not. If the preview text is irrelevant or appears spammy, the client's algorithm might shove it into the junk folder. Even worse, it could hurt overall email deliverability.

  • Lean into the mobile experience - Mobile devices are ubiquitous, which means people check email on small screens. Oddly, mobile email clients often display more preview text than desktop clients, which means a compelling preview could increase open rates on phones and tablets.

Wrap up

Taking the time to craft thoughtful and compelling preview text should be part of your email marketing strategy. In the old days of email marketing, folks said a killer subject line drives open rates. It's still important, but the goalposts have moved. Marketers need to extend the subject line and write killer preview text.

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