How to Write Successful Email Previews

Shane Davis
Shane Davis
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Like in life, first impressions are crucial when sending a promotional email from your company. If items are broken, it sends a negative message to your customers about your attention to detail. One key factor to ensure an email’s success is to consider the preview copy displayed below the subject line. This copy introduces the subject matter, helps enforce the subject line, and previews the content within the email.

However, preview copy is frequently forgotten about or built incorrectly. For example, if the preview line is the date, social platform images, or the name of an opening image, this can inhibit the success of your email campaign and ultimately damage your brand. In addition, these preview links could also contain junk code, making the recipient it think it is spam or potentially a virus.

There are a few best practices that you can follow to ensure your company is building successful promotional emails. These practices can be broken into two categories: technical and strategic.

1. Technical Best Practices

With this technical know-how, you can provide your audience with a successful, effective preview.

First Class

The preview is the first <div> that the email client reads, so when coding your email place the <div> right at the top. Most errors occur when previews show copy such as ‘Click to see in your web browser’ or ‘Facebook Twitter LinkedIn’. Below I have included two examples of bad code I was able to find in less than 10 seconds in my own Gmail account. Even large organizations like the Marriott are making this common error.

Email Preview

Hidden Code

You also need to make sure that <div> is hidden and not displayed when recipients open the email. Of course, openly displayed code would also look unprofessional coming from your company. Below I have provided some example code that can be used in your next email.

<div style=”display:none;font-size:1px;color:#333333;line-height:1px;max-height:0px;max-width:0px;opacity:0;overflow:hidden;”>   Insert preview text here.  </div>

2. Strategic Best Practices

The content in your preview is important because it is an extension of the conversation you started within your subject line. When building email campaigns, I keep the following strategic best practices in mind:

Don’t Repeat

Make sure your subject line and preview copy are not repetitive and can stand alone as independent thoughts. This allows you to strengthen your subject line and support it with the preview text. For example, you could inform your audience about a special offer in the subject line, then reinforce the departments, styles, or the last day of the deal in the preview.

Language Choice

I will continue to beat the ‘keyword’ drum even when discussing emails. You should have some insight on key terms your customers associate with your brand, so make sure to utilize them in your email previews and subject lines. Since you already know that these valuable keywords will drive potential customers to your site, it is crucial that you keep using them throughout everything you do.

Language Focus

Your preview should be honest, it is important to inform recipients of the email’s content and reference a call to action. Alternatively, the preview could include additional CTAs that could potentially encourage recipients to open the email and engage with your offer. By doing so, the subject line and preview dovetail each other to produce the most successful results.

Crazy Not To

When you overlook the value of preview copy, it is less likely that your promotional emails will capture the attention of your audience. Not to mention, defaulting to doing nothing means you risk losing business to competitors. When placed head-to-head, I suspect emails with a well-thought-out preview will consistently be more successful than those with nothing.

I hope this guide helps you create successful email campaigns that will increase your open rates, clicks, and of course, conversions. If you would like to chat more about how you can create valuable email campaigns, email me at [email protected].

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