6 subject line and preheader perfect pairings

McKenzie Gregory


If you've ever sought out tips for writing effective subject lines and preheader text, you've probably been advised to abide by a certain set of tried-and-true principles.

First, keep them short, since most mobile devices have a limited number of characters they can display. Next, make them clear so your subscribers don’t have to put in extra effort to figure out what you’re getting at. Finally, highlight the most important and compelling part of your message to get your readers to open.

Those are great guidelines, and they’re a wonderful place to start. But it's also worth going your own way sometimes, especially if you’re an email veteran ready to try something new. These six subject line and preheader text examples all utilize different tactics, but they're all equally effective (after all, I’m sharing them here!).

Check ‘em out to see how your subject line and preheader text can work together in many different ways to capture attention and inspire more opens.

Note: If nothing else, we beg you – please don’t use your preheader text to say “Having trouble viewing this email?” It’s a waste of valuable inbox real estate, and an email marketer loses her wings every time you do it.



1. JackThreads

Subject line: Beach, please.
Preheader text: Meet the JT Beach Jogger. Crisp, lightweight, and built for lazy days and epic adventures.

Why it stood out: This subject line defies conventional wisdom because it’s very short (traditional best practices recommend between 40-50 characters for an ideal subject line) and doesn’t immediately reveal the content of the message. But here, the length actually works to this brand’s advantage by helping it stand out in the inbox. Plus, we’re all about including a little dose of humor to catch people’s eyes, and the preheader text allows JackThreads to expand on what they’re actually talking about.



2. Grubhub

Subject line: Dinner’s on us tonight. Enjoy $7 OFF delivery!
Preheader text: Your neighborhood, your favorite flavors. Grubhub delivers the best local bites, straight to you.

Why it stood out: Many subject line experts will tell you to merely tease whatever deal you’re offering to inspire curiosity (and opens), but when the deal is this good, why not just state it outright? This subject line is laden with value, so there’s no need to obscure what’s inside the actual message by being vague or, worse, by using click-baity copy like “You won’t BELIEVE this deal!"



3. Warby Parker

Subject line: Wooooooooooooooooooooooooo!
Preheader text: This ought to get you in the mood.

Why it stood out: Novelty is a powerful thing. I’ve never seen a subject line like this before, so of course I opened the email. Do something unexpected and unique, and you’ll reap the rewards that come with bringing a little creativity into the inbox.



4. Huckberry

Subject line: Republican Party [ ] Democratic Party [ ] Pizza Party [ ✔ ]
Preheader text: The most gorgeous thing we’ve ever set fire to.

Why it stood out: With a quick, timely reference, this subject line was relevant without being too political or divisive. And the preheader text sharpened it up with even more curiosity-inspiring copy (the email was about a portable pizza oven).



5. Rent the Runway

Subject line: Calendar Notification: New Favorites Are Arriving
Preheader text: Searching for something? Change can be a really good thing.

Why it stood out: Mimicking the things your audience always pays attention to – in this case, a calendar notification – is an incredibly smart move (if used sparingly). It’s tricky, so don’t go to the well too often or you’ll risk annoying your subscribers and coming across as disingenuous.



6. AT&T

Subject line: We’re so glad you signed up. Here’s what’s next.
Preheader text: You’re in! Welcome to the easiest way to shop for phones, tablets, plans & more. Let’s get acquainted.

Why it stood out: Sometimes, going the straightforward route is best. This subject line + preheader combo from AT&T is welcoming and tells you exactly what to expect from their messages. It’s proof that you don’t always need to pull out the latest trend to capture your audience's attention – honest, friendly customer service will do the trick.




Seen any stand-out subject line and preheader text pairings recently? Share away in the comments!


About the Author

McKenzie Gregory

McKenzie Gregory is a senior content manager on Emma’s marketing team. A Nashville native, she can be found covering all things email on the Emma blog, debating hyphenation rules, and watching obscene amounts of Netflix without a trace of shame.

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