Every component of your email marketing campaign matters, so
taking any of them for granted is guaranteed to hurt your
campaign’s results. Nonetheless, some components of your email
marketing campaigns get a lot more attention than others.
Many marketers take years to master the art of email copy.
Others focus on analytics, painstakingly working toward finding the
best possible day and time to send their message for maximum
While there’s no doubt that these elements are important
factors, don’t forget about the one that will make your
message’s initial impression: The email header.
What is an email header?
In terms of content, there are two main components of any email
message. There’s the actual body of the message itself, often
where the sender puts the bulk of their communication and effort,
and there’s the , the portion above the body of the email.
The header includes:
- The Sender
- The Recipient
- The Date
- The Subject
- The Server Responsible for the Transmission
- Image (Optional)
Every email program will allow you to see the entire email
header, but most primarily show the subject line, sender, and send
date by default.
Legal requirements for your email headers
There are certain legal requirements you must follow with your
email headers. In the U.S., there’s the
CAN-SPAM act. In the United Kingdom, the
Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations of 2003
outline the laws regarding email headers. CASL laws in Canada
do the same. Almost every country has their own version of these
types of legal requirements.
Fortunately, they stipulate the same thing when it comes to what
is an email header: You can’t include any false or misleading
information. Scammers often do this to trick recipients into
opening up their emails, but it can tempt otherwise legitimate
marketers to bend the rules for those all-important opens.
It’s perfectly fine to get creative, but if you are actively
deceiving your email list, you could find yourself in trouble.
How email headers produce better open rates and engagement
Without a doubt, the best possible way your header can
contribute to greater open rates—and, thus, engagement—is
through the subject line. After all, if your subject line doesn’t
convince the recipient to open the email, the rest of it won’t
Here are some
simple rules for successful subject lines that will lead to
more of your emails getting opened.
Most importantly, use
A/B testing to get a sense for what resonates with your
audience. By sending out two identical emails that have different
subject lines on the same day and time, open rates will show you
which subject line makes your recipients more likely to open your
The more emails get opened, the better your engagement will be.
However, good subject lines can also prime readers for conversion,
too. Give them something to get excited about in the subject line,
follow it up with similar copy, and your CTA will have a much
better click-through rate.
That being said, you can also improve engagement by adding an
image to your header.
Here’s an example from Camellia by
The company is still relatively young, so putting their name and
logo in the header reminds the recipient who’s sending the email
and why they’ll enjoy reading the rest of it.
Adidas takes things a
step further. Their email header not only includes a nice piece of
branding copy, it also offers the recipient the option to go
straight to their site. Engagement doesn’t get much better than
4 examples of successful email headers
Email headers generally don’t get as much attention as the
body of the message, the time you schedule it, segmentation, and
other factors that determine if your campaign is a successful
However, here are three examples of companies that clearly
understand that their email headers can lead to increased open
rates and improved engagement.
1. Birchbox uses a header image to promote its loyalty program
Birchbox does several
smart things with their header in the email below.
To begin, they incorporate an emoji in their subject line. At
the moment, emojis in subject
lines are still enough of a novelty that they’re attention
getters. In the near future, they may become as commonplace as
letters and numbers but for now, they’re a surefire way to ensure
a second glance.
The other element of Birchbox’s header to emulate is the
information provided in the subject line. Recipients are
immediately incentivized to open the message as its value is
clearly spelled out: “TWO Birchboxes for $10 Inside.” That’s
two numbers in one subject line that’s well within the
aforementioned limit for characters.
While you want to be careful
using all caps in your subject lines, Birchbox only capitalizes
one word, not the entire subject line. In this example, they’re
using all caps to draw attention to a two-for-one deal, emphasizing
what it is that makes their offer so special.
But by far, the real standout in this email header, though, is
the image the company used in the space separating the header from
the main body of the email. Unlike other features of the email
header, the image is optional since it isn’t required by law.
But we’d recommend including an image since it’s one more
opportunity to add information, convert your prospects, improve
customer loyalty, or accomplish whatever goal you have for your
company and your email marketing campaign. Otherwise, you leave a
highly-visible portion of your email as blank, unused space.
In this case, Birchbox uses their header image to inform their
subscribers about their status within the company’s loyalty
program, ensuring the customer knows where they stand. If they have
a lot of points, this email could suggest beneficial ways to
capitalize on that value. If the person only has a few points, like
in this example, the email could suggest ways to build up more or
reasons why they even should.
The header image can prep your reader for the content in your
email and motivate them to convert.
2. AFAR uses a preheader to promote their site
Experiential travel magazine, AFAR, has a lot of information they
want to communicate in just one email, so they opted to use a
preheader, the area between the subject line and the actual
First, the subscriber sees text referring to the article
they’re promoting below. It’s short and sweet but gets the
point across, hopefully striking a chord with the subscriber and
making them want to read more.
Second, AFAR makes it easy for their subscribers to share their
articles, helping the company reach a new audience that might not
already be aware of their publication.
Third, the header provides options for exploring the rest of
AFAR’s site. If a message’s recipient is interested in other
features of the magazine, they’re just a click away.
Also, this email features a fantastic subject line: It’s
specific (train travel is fairly niche) and promises to reveal a
secret (“unexpected benefit”), triggering FOMO and
encouraging readers to open the daily email.
3. Uberflip gets right to the point with an eye-catching image
While the body of your email usually succeeds or fails based on
the copy you choose, that doesn’t mean you need a ton of words in
your header image. As we’ve already seen, more words can lead to
a more engaging email, but a large image can be equally effective
in many cases, too.
Uberflip sent out the
above email to advertise Conex, their content
experience conference. If you operate within this world, the author
of the best-selling book
Vlog Like a Boss, Amy Landino, probably needs no introduction.
Seeing her face in the large image that precedes the message would
prime subscribers to be pretty excited about the rest of the
message, even without a lot of copy.
4. Nintendo makes it impossible to stop reading
Speaking of eye-catching, it doesn’t get more vibrant—and
thus impossible to ignore—than this header image from Nintendo:
As you can see, it’s actually a gif, which effectively sets
the tone for what’s to come in the rest of the email.
The email is promoting Nintendo
Labo, which lets users build their own cardboard toys and then
“bring them to life” with their Nintendo Switches.
Hence, the tagline in the gif of: “Discover. Make.
Creating a gif like this will definitely help your email stand
out, leading to better engagement and conversions. Fortunately,
it’s a lot easier to create your own gif than you may think. You
can actually use the GIF Maker from GIPHY to
create one for free, and then just upload it to your email
Now that you know more about email headers and why adding one
can be critical to boosting your engagement, don’t take your
email headers for granted. While the importance of an email’s
subject line is fairly obvious—and really can’t be
overstated—marketers all-too-often forget about the rest of the
headers’ potential to bring in more opens, click-throughs, and
As a result, businesses may spend time and money trying to
improve every other factor in their email and still fall far short
of their campaign’s potential.
If your email campaign doesn’t quite live up to its
potential—and even if your campaigns do really well—you can
improve your metrics by optimizing your email header. There are a
number of different ways you can customize your email headers to
produce higher open rates and encourage engagement, both of which
will lead to more recipients clicking on your CTAs.
4 Ways to Improve Your Email Header and Boost Engagement
appeared first on Campaign Monitor.
Source: FS – Email Marketing Blogs!
4 Ways to Improve Your Email Header and Boost Engagement