How to use the preview text hack in MailChimp

The wonderful folks at Litmus introduce a great way to control the preheader text in emails.

Basically, it’s a way of adding white space to a preheader text to make your message stand out.

Here’s an example:

Sample preview in Gmail

The first message is with the hack, the second is without it, and the third (from Cake Queen Yolanda Gampp) is.

The white space makes your message stand out more, and more importantly, it stops unwanted text like “unsubscribe” or the dreaded “view online” text from showing here.

How the preheader hack works

The hack simply consists of adding lots of invisible ‌ and   characters to your preheader text. And I mean lots of them.

The ‌ is a so-called zero-width-non-joiner and the   is a non-breaking space.

Unfortunately, MailChimp won’t let you add these in the normal space for editing the preheader, i.e. here:

Preheader box in MailChimp

So we have to get a bit creative. Don’t worry, I’ll show you how you can easily do it.

Adding the preheader hack to the email content

In MailChimp, once you have chosen your Subject and your Preview text, as in the screenshot above, edit the content of the email. If you’re starting from an empty template, you should see two boxes marked “Drag Content Blocks Here” on the left. If these already have objects in them, don’t worry, the hack still works.

MailChimp code block preview

Now click and drag a “Code” box from the bottom right and let go of it as far top left as possible. The frame “preheader” should be highlighted before you let go.

If there is already content there, drag this new box above it.

You’ll then see this editable code element top right.

Code editor in MailChimp

Now delete the whole content of that code box (beginning with <div …) and paste exactly this text:

<!-- Preheader white space hack -->
<div style="display: none; max-height: 0px; overflow: hidden;">

Make sure you copy the whole block as the third line is very very long.

The important bit here is the style at the beginning, which makes sure that the text isn’t actually displayed in your email.

When you click Save & Close the box should disappear. That’s what we want.

MailChimp editor preview

The result

Now when you send your message, you’ll see your chosen Preheader Text followed by empty space.

This is particularly effective on mobile devices. Here are screenshots from Mail and Gmail on an iPhone.

iOS email previewPreview in Gmail mobile

I hope you found this useful. I’m amazed at how many people, even big companies, underuse the preheader text. There are good resources out there, and I think this small hack makes it even more effective.

Hat tip to Litmus for documenting the original solution in the first place.