7 Email Preview Text Mistakes That You’ve Likely Made and How You Can Fix Them

Alex Williams

3 minute read

What is preview text?

Preview text is the copy that follows the subject line in many email client inboxes, both mobile and desktop. It’s another tool for recipients to screen their emails and determine which are worthy of an open. Preview text also provides savvy email marketers an opportunity to stand out in the inbox, engage the recipient, and build brand awareness even if they don’t open. But if you don’t control your preview text, it may harm your open rates.

Preview text mistakes

The email client pulls preview text from the initial copy you have in your email. So what’s the leading copy in your email?

1. It may be your preheader text.

Preview text mistake #1

My grant approver and I are beyond a first name basis.

2. Perhaps it’s alt text for a logo. (P.S. If your alt text aligns with your message, this could be less of an issue.)

Logo in preview text

Header cheese?! Blech.

3. Or maybe it’s informational text buried under an image-heavy email:

Address within preview text

An address. Booooooring. Bored.

4. Are you unintentionally paying off your subject line in your preview text?

Promo code within preview text

No need to open this email because everything I need to know is right here: URL, offer, coupon code, shipping terms.

5. Is it a collection of words and phrases that create a non-sensical run-on?

Run on sentence inside an email preview text

Looky, I can do it too: season Presents returns list Sale store xmas festivus family oh someone please help me

6. Are you actually reminding your recipients that they can unsubscribe from your list?

Accidental unsubscribe reminder

Yes, I will unsubscribe, thank you.

7. Are you just repeating the subject line?

Screen Shot 2016-01-11 at 4.53.42 PM

Yeah, hacks and hacks for days. We got it.

Preview text is an extension of the subject line. It should build and enhance the hook.

Good preview text example

“Popular” can mean many things. The preview test provides legitimacy and adds to the intrigue.

Your character count should be around 40 to 50 characters. Don’t forget to render test across email clients to make sure the preview text doesn’t truncate at odd places, and that it actually works.


Preview text…

… should build on your subject line.
… can be made visible in the inbox but hidden when the email is opened.
… can be detrimental if not accounted for.
… can be beneficial if accounted for.

Trendline Interactive

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About the Author(s)

Alex Williams

SVP, Practice Lead, Cloud Consulting. As one of Trendline’s first hires, Alex built out Trendline’s full service email practice. He is a true full stack email marketer – from strategy and creative to technology and analytics. Widely recognized as an email strategy and creative expert, as an SVP at Trendline, Alex brings his passion and creative problem solving skills to Trendline clients. Alex has had a hand in just about every account that’s ever been on Trendline’s roster. He is a frequent keynote speaker on topics related to design, technology, and their intersection in the inbox. Follow Alex on Twitter

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