You’ve heard the saying that ‘size isn’t everything’–and that’s true, but only if you use what you’ve got in the right way.

Of course I’m talking about the header on your email newsletter (I don’t know what you were thinking!), and I’m going to tell you why this is true.

Your newsletter header is really important because it’s the first thing that people see when they open your email, and if they’re reading your newsletter in their ‘preview’ pane, it might be the ONLY thing they see without scrolling down, so you have to make it count.

Here’s an example from Andy Lopata, UK networking expert. This is what you see if you are using a short preview pane, and I’ll explain what makes it work:

Email header example

1. Permission reminder

It seems counter-intuitive, but the more chances you give to your readers to unsubscribe, the less likely they are to do it. So, using a permission reminder will help reduce your unsubscribe rate.

It will also help reduce the number of spam reports that your emails receive (and that’s a VERY good thing). This is because a reader who doesn’t want to receive your emails any more will easily see the unsubscribe link in the permission reminder and is more likely to use it, rather than marking your email as junk or spam using the button in their email client.

2. Social Share Bar

We hang around (online and offline) with other people like us. So if I am a good customer for you, it’s likely that my friends could be too. The Social Share Bar harnesses this power by making it easy for your readers to share your email with their friends and associates via a host of social media networks—and because their friends could be your target customers, you really want them to do that. When you make it easy, your readers are more likely to take action.

3. Brand colours

Andy has a very clear brand image and he uses his brand colours consistently through all marketing materials that he produces. So, his newsletter is no exception with the crisp white banner topped and tailed with his trademark red and purple.

This creates consistency and recognition as soon as readers see his newsletter in their inbox.

4. Logo and strapline

Always, always, ALWAYS put your logo in your newsletter banner. Your logo should be one of the key ways that your customers recognize you, so get it in there.

Don’t make it too big or too small—you want it to be clear and legible but not to push the content of your newsletter down by being too big.

Newsletter tip: Make your logo a link back to your website homepage. We are trained to click on logos for links, so use this to your advantage and get readers visiting your website.

5. Business description

You can fit a lot in your newsletter banner, but many people just put their logo in there and waste the rest of the space. In this example, Andy has used the remaining space to remind readers about what he does and how he can help them.

After the header, Andy’s content can be seen just peeping up into the ‘preview zone’, so you’ll note that a bold and colourful greeting and links to find Andy online can be clearly spotted. These things aren’t part of his header, but serve to show that there’s more to come, and draw the reader’s eyes towards his newsletter content.

The internet has trained us to scroll down when we can’t see the whole of a particular block of text or image, so by having the start of the content visible in those top two inches, readers are more likely to scroll (or open the email fully) and jump straight into the content, and that’s what we want people to do.

Key takaways:

You can use these principles in your email newsletter header too, just make sure that you’ve got the following covered:

  • Visual recognition through your logo and brand colours
  • Reduce spam reports and opt-outs with a permission reminder
  • Encourage sharing with the Social Share Bar
  • Remind people how you can help them with your strapline and/or business description
  • Make your banner and logo a link to your website
  • Encourage scrolling by making the rest of your content apparent

Do you have any tips for an email header that works? Tell me about them in the comments.