Powermail Preheader (aka Johnson Box)

An email preheader is a bit of text that typically displays to the right of the Subject, or below the Subject, in an email program's inbox.  Exactly where it displays depends on the email program.  PowerMail preheader text does not appear in the body of the email.  Its role is to supplement the subject to entice readers to open the email message.

For example, a PowerMail with Subject "Our Nonprofit's Annual Fund Drive" could have a preheader of "3X donation match today only, up to $5,000, thanks to a generous supporter."  The preheader provides additional motivation to open the email.

It's important to note that not all email programs display a preheader.  In Gmail, for example, you must enable the Show Snippets option to see preheaders.  In the absence of a preheader, email programs typically construct one from the initial text of your email.  If the beginning text of your email message complements your subject and helps convince readers to open your email, you may not need a preheader at all.

But if your PowerMail starts with a Forward-to-a-Friend link, or a View in Browser link, you may find email programs choosing that text as your preheader.  Not ideal!  We encourage use of explicitly defined preheader text.

To add a preheader to your PowerMail issue, go to the Properties tab.  The Preheader (Johnson Box) prompt is right below the Subject.  This helps you evaluate how well the two work together.




The preheader displays in the reader's inbox.  This image is from a Gmail inbox on a desktop computer:




We suggest a preheader that's 100 characters or more in length, with the most important information first.  The shorter your subject line is, the longer your preheader should be.  An inbox may not have room to display all of your preheader, but if it's too short, the email program may append unwanted text from the beginning of your message to your preheader.  That could be confusing.

There are lots of articles on the internet with opinions about what makes a good preheader, and many have examples of what they find good or bad.  Google "email preheader" to find them.

Are you wondering why the preheader is also known as a Johnson Box?  Johnson Box refers to a marketing tactic invented by Frank H. Johnson in the days of postal mail campaigns.  At the top of the mailed letter, Johnson would box off an area that summarized the main points of the message.  This idea made letter campaigns more effective, and it does the same for email campaigns.  Well written email preheaders can increase open rates by as much as 18%.

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