How to Get More Opens with Email Preview Text

Email preview text can make the difference between your email being opened or ignored. We all know about the “from” and “subject” lines in email, but what exactly is email preview text and how can you as local businesses use it to get more people to open your emails?

Take a look at your email inbox, and you’ll see who the email is from and the subject of the email. For example, I have an email in my inbox that is from “Davey Tree Expert Company” and the subject of the email is “Give your trees a boost this winter”. But if you look carefully there is more information that your email client displays. This extra information is called email preview text and in the case of this particular example, the preview text is “To view this email’s webpage, go here” … not so good.

Email preview text is something that nearly all email clients display: Gmail, Yahoo, Apple Mail, Outlook, etc. They will pull in the first text that they find in an email and display it in your inbox. Preview text is like an expanded subject line. It gives people more insight into what’s inside the message. And if it’s done well, it can really encourages people to open your email.

Good, Bad, and Ugly Email Preview Text

I mentioned above how the preview text for Davey Tree Expert Company wasn’t done well, but there are good examples as well. Here in Windsor, Colorado, there is a great restaurant that my wife and I like to visit, Chimney Park. A few months ago they sent me an email from “Chimney Park” and a subject of “Happy Thanksgiving and Weekend Gift Card Promo”. That was OK, but is was the email preview text that really drew me in.

Their email preview text said “$20 FREE for every $100 purchase. Come see our new renovations!” This is awesome. They’ve done a great job of reinforcing the subject line and frankly, it was the preview text that really made me want to open their email.

I see a lot of emails, however, where you can tell no one looked at the preview text. You’ll see things like “View this email as a webpage”, “No images, click here”, “View in browser”, etc.. You don’t need that at the top of your emails and frankly, it’s hurting your open rates.

I saw another example from Hotel Providence. The from and subject were good. The preview text said, “New packages at Hotel Providence. Exclusive Providence Hotel Packages Available Hotel Providence Logo Providence 139” Their preview text started out so well, but you can tell they didn’t look at this. Email clients like Gmail and others display the first text they find in an email as the preview whether it’s actual text, ALT text of images, URLs of linked images … anything.

Testing Email Preview Text on Desktop and Mobile Devices

Over 50% of emails are read on mobile devices, so don’t just check your email preview text on a laptop. In fact, on mobile devices email preview text is even more critical. Think about this the next time you send an email to your customers or prospects. And above all else, send an email test to yourself first! Look at it in Gmail on your laptop. Look at it on the Gmail app on an Android phone. Look at it in Apple Mail on an iPhone.

Make sure preview text looks good and is compelling. You’ll get more people to open your emails and drive more business.

Questions / Comments?

How often do you send email to your customers, and what do you say in your emails? I really want to hear your thoughts. I would love to see any examples that you have. You can comment below, or forward your emails to

By the way, we have an entire one-hour training on effective emails for local businesses on our website. You have to be a Local Marketing Institute VIP to access it, but it’s only a buck for a 30 day trial, so I encourage you to check it out.

Eric Shanfelt
Eric is the Founder and CEO of Local Marketing Institute. He has 25 years of experience in digital marketing and has been the Chief Digital Officer for several B2B and consumer media companies. Eric has a passion for local businesses and focuses on practical digital strategies to help them attract more customers, build customer loyalty, and grow their business.