If you’re writing emails as a copywriter, you know you need to provide your client with subject line options in addition to the copy of the email itself. But if subject lines are the most important piece of email copy, email snippets are probably the most overlooked email tactic.
Snippets, sometimes referred to as “pre-headlines” or preheader text,” are often-overlooked, but super crucial piece of copy to craft an effective email. And you need to make sure you’re providing your clients with copy for the snippet when you’re writing emails.
What Is an Email Snippet or Preheader Text?
An email snippet is the tiny line of text in an email that shows up at the very top of the email when you open it and, in many email services (Gmail, Outlook, etc.) shows up right after the subject line before you open it. They offer additional explanation for your subject line, enticing reader to actually open the email and/or take the action you want them to take.
A snippet should be a short summation of what the reader is going to find in the body of the email if they open it up. And if the purpose of the email is to get someone to take an action by clicking, the snippet should also include that link. That allows someone who reads your snippet and instantly knows they want to take that action to immediately do it instead of having to open up your email.
Why Are Email Snippets So Important?
Because a snippet gives your audience more context about the email, it’s a huge opportunity to bolster click through rates. Think of it as the subject line’s sidekick.
Snippets are often the first line of copy in the email itself. Sometimes you’ll see text written in very small type across the top of an email.
Most email providers, by default, will pull this first line of text and put this copy right after the subject lines in an email’s inbox. Which means they’re pretty important, right? Right. And so, obviously, all companies use them wisely, right? Mmm…no.
Just take a look at your own inbox—most companies waste that space with “This email was sent to firstname.lastname@example.org…” or “Make sure you receive our emails! Put this address in your contacts list.” What a waste of valuable real estate!
Many email softwares allow you to customize the snippet copy. That means you don’t have to let the software pull the first line of text by default. Instead, you take control of what your audience sees.
2 Types of Email Snippets
For your snippet, you have two options.
First, you could give more details that support your subject line. Just be sure not to give so many details that the reader doesn’t need to open the email!
For example, if your subject line is “Win a music lover’s trip to California!” Your snippet could be something like, “3 nights in Palm Springs, tix to Coachella and more: Enter now!”
You could also use the snippet to pique their interest/arouse their curiosity more. For example, if your subject line were something like, “This will make travel easier than ever,” your snippet could be something like, “When this launches in 3 days, your life will change forever.”
The point is that your snippet should be used to give a little extra incentive to open the email and that means it has a really important role to play. You should craft your snippet just as carefully as your subject line and, of course, never let a company rely on pre-populated utility text (“You’re receiving this email because…”) because they’re wasting a huge opportunity.
Email Snippet Examples
Here are just a few examples of email snippets. You need to tailor your email snippet, like any piece of copy, to the message and goal of the email. Your creative brief will be a document you want to reference (again, just like any copywriting project!).
Let’s say we’re writing an email to promote a sweepstakes. We’ve created an email body that has all kinds of wonderful information about the prizes. Our subject line could be:
Get Away in Style! Fashion and Travel Prizes Galore
And our snippet, which, again, allows us to get into a little more detail, could say:
Here’s your chance to win a 4-nt trip to Manhattan, $500 at XYZ Store and more! Enter now.
Transactional Email Example
By transactional email, we mean an email you receive because you made some sort of purchase or requested something specific. These fall outside of promotional emails, in that companies can send you transactional emails, like receipts, even if you’ve opted out of their regular promotional emails.
A receipt from Delta airlines has the subject line “Your Flight Receipt” and the snippet begins: “[PASSENGER NAME] [DATE OF TRAVEL] Details on your recent purchase.”
This snippet makes it very clear who the receipt is for, the specific trip, and then “details on your recent purchase” reminds the reader that they made a purchase—this is not an email they want to delete or an email promoting low fares to random destinations.
Promotional Email Example
We’re heading back to our inboxes for this example. Our copy coach Kate’s favorite dessert comes from Milk Bar (and if you’ve listen to the podcast, you know she loves their brand voice). One of their email subject lines said, “Meet our Milk Bar Sampler” and the snippet said, “All your faves, now at a lower price!”
This snippet is hugely helpful as it gets in the benefit of a reduced price. Of course, this is one where we’d recommend testing getting more of a benefit in the subject line “Your favorite treats for less” and perhaps expanding on the product name itself in the snippet.
A welcome series is a common type of email funnel that is triggered when you join an email list or join a program, for example.
When students join the Comprehensive Copywriting Academy (CCA), we have an email that goes out in the series with the subject line: “[CCA] Get your copy of the Action Sheets Workbook” and the snippet is “Every CCA Action Sheet, all in one place.”
Make sense? The snippet is just one more way to let your fabulous copy do more selling.
Many companies already include snippets in emails as a matter of course, but if they don’t (or if they do, they waste their snippet space to just say something like “Be sure to add us to your address book”), suggest it to them. It’s another way for you to add value and help make their emails as effective as can be.
Your turn! What are some of the best snippets you’ve seen? What about some of the worst? Let us know in the comments below!
Last Updated on October 18, 2023