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How to Optimize Your ‘From’ Lines, Subject Lines, and Pre-Headers in Your Email Marketing Campaigns

If your e-commerce business doesn’t prioritize email marketing as a way to stay in touch with customers and to reach out to potential new clients, you’re missing out. One source reveals that email generates a whopping $51 for each $1 spent. So that’s a none-too-shabby ROI.

But an effective email marketing campaign is about more than just hitting the compose button, typing up your message, entering the recipients’ emails, and then hitting send. The cold hard truth is that you need to ensure that as many people as possible actually open and read them.

In order to up the odds that your messages are being opened, you need to optimize both the “from” lines and subject lines as well as master the art of crafting killer pre-headers. If you want to take your email marketing campaign to the next level and get your open rates up, keep reading. This article will look at how to go about your “from” lines, subject lines, and pre-headers, focus on how to boost your open rates, and create urgency and touch on what to avoid.

Lines and preheaders

Most people take the “from” line for granted – and this includes some otherwise whip-smart marketers who usually mind their Ps and Qs. The “from” line actually includes 3 components: 

  1. From email: The address from which the email originates from
  2. From name: The name that is shown in the recipient’s inboxes
  3. Reply to email: The address that a reply will be routed to

How you handle the “from” lines will factor into whether or not people who receive your emails actually open them. Since you don’t want to produce a great email marketing campaign – only to have most of the recipients delete or ignore the messages – consider the following tips:

Shorter is better

The shorter you keep the “from” names, the better. You don’t want to have so many characters in this section that it gets truncated – butchered? – by ellipses. As a general rule of thumb, the majority of desktop email clients will show approximately 25 or fewer characters. That average dips, however, if the recipients see the emails using a mobile device. This is useful information for any digital marketer to know.

Ensure from names are crystal clear

You’ll want to ensure that the recipients immediately know who the emails are coming from. So the name has to clearly point to your company. If they have to pause and rack their brains to figure out the identity of the sender, you’re toast. If someone knocks on your front door with his face concealed, would you open the door anyway to see who it was? Your clients will be just as reluctant to open emails from an unknown sender.

Ensure “from” name reflects the objective of the message

When you think about the “from” name, ensure that the name matches what you want to convey in the email campaign. If your business is named Company XYZ and you’re letting a customer know that the order they placed on your eCommerce site is being shipped, you might put “Your Company XYZ Order” as the “from” name. After all, the email is intended to let a customer know that her order is ready.

Subject Lines

Your subject lines need to grab attention, and learning how to write an attention-grabbing subject line with a decisive call-to-action is one of the most important things you can learn how to do as a digital marketer as a whole. 

You don’t want what you put in the subject lines to be distorted by ellipses. So be mindful of your character count. You’ll want to experiment to see how many characters you can use before it gets truncated with the unwelcome “…”. For some email clients, you only have 27 characters before the ellipses show up. Some email clients allow for many more characters

You’ll also turn off your audience if you resort to clickbait. And while doing so, be informative, interesting, and even entertaining. Recipients will want to know what they’re in for if they click on your messages.


Email preheaders are situated under the subject line whenever someone accesses their emails from a mobile device. From an email marketing perspective, it would be hard to overestimate the importance of pre-headers when combining them with the subject line. So you need to write the subject line with the pre-header in mind — and vice-versa.

If your pre-headers and subject lines are in sync, more people will open your emails. Don’t simply repeat in the pre-header what you have in the subject line. Doing so will be wasting space.

Boost open rates & create urgency

According to one source, the number of business and consumer email messages sent and received every day was estimated to come in at 269 billion in 2017 and was projected to reach 319.6 billion by the conclusion of 2021. But just because lots of emails are being sent and received every day doesn’t mean they’re all being opened and read. 

Ensure that you’re implementing the following recommendations to increase your open rates:

Make sure you’re sending enough

One source notes that companies that send between 16 and 30 emails every month achieve a clickthrough rate that is twice what is achieved by businesses that send out fewer than a couple of emails every month. Make sure you’re sending out enough emails to remain relevant to your customers.

Incorporate payment services

If you need to collect payment from your customers, it will be of the utmost importance to rely on payment services that can integrate well with email marketing services in order to track the status of invoices and ensure that you do not run into any issues. If customers or clients run into any issues with your payment services, it will likely increase your monthly churn rates. 

Make sure your emails are short

If your recipients know that your emails are short and sweet, they’ll be more enticed to open them when they get them in their inboxes.

“From” lines, subject lines, and pre-headers

Make sure you take the above sections on “from” lines, subject lines, and pre-headers to heart. They’ll make a difference in your email marketing.

One way to increase open rates is to create urgency. You can do this by using numbers to your advantage. For instance, if you’re giving customers the chance to win a $50 gift card and want them to know that there’s a week left for them to enter the sweepstakes, you can include terms such as”$50 gift card” and “7 days left!” in your subject line or a pre-header section. This will capture their attention, generate urgency, and prompt action.

And once they’ve opened your emails, you’ll want to ensure you include, among other things, a call to action. Your customers need to know what the next logical step is whether that is to sign up for a newsletter, take advantage of a special promotion, or something else.

Don’t Make These Mistakes

There are definitely some mistakes to steer clear of as you work on your email marketing. For instance, you should avoid words and phrases that have “spam” written all over them. These include terms like “100% Free Big-Screen TV” or “Lifetime Supply of Ink” in your email subject lines.

You’ll also want to keep in mind the U.S. CAN-SPAM Act of 2003 that makes it illegal to use inaccurate “from”, “to”, and “reply to” lines. And while emojis can be useful if they fit your demographic, they can be a turnoff if they don’t fit either your demographic or your business.

The good news is that several of the most popular email marketing services such as Constant Contact and Mailchimp come with a variety of features to help make your life as a marketer easier, including the ability to automate sending messages, intuitive design tools, and A/B testing to help determine the overall effectiveness of your campaigns. 


If you want to create email marketing campaigns that generate tangible results, the “from” lines, subject lines, and pre-headers are vitally important. How you address these items will be the difference between a successful campaign and a dud of a campaign.

Some companies have the will but don’t have the manpower to successfully manage email marketing efforts in-house. One option is to consider an email marketing service that will automate a lot of the processes and procedures. Doing so will make your email marketing goals more easily attainable and measurable. Whichever direction you go, remember that a lot is riding on your email marketing efforts, and the work you put in will pay off splendidly.

About the author:
Sam Bocetta is a freelance journalist specializing in U.S. diplomacy and national security, with emphasis on technology trends in cyberwarfare, cyberdefense, and cryptography.

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