email on the iPad

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As we move deeper into the post-PC era, more people will be using their iPad increasingly to interact with businesses. B2C and B2B. One of the primary channels businesses use today is email. Now . . . I have to tell you that I’m not a fan of email when it comes to interacting with businesses. It’s too “broadcasty” no matter how personalized. I receive so much of it and I delete most of it. Here are some stats about email out of a sample size of 5 million.

  • Average person receives 147 emails per day
  • Those people spend 2.5 hours a day “dealing” with their email
  • 71 are deleted in less than 5 minutes (how much do you want to bet these are marketing offers?)
  • 12 emails will eat up 90 minutes of your day
  • Email usage is declining across all age groups

That said, I believe that email is going to evolve because it has to. More people are looking at their email through smartphones and iPads. Because of this, email needs to get smart. I’ve posted about mobile optimized email but wanted to talk about iPad optimized email. There are a several things we need to consider before we get into it.

  • Email is informational and the iPad is about engagement. (Every marketers favorite word that they can’t define!)
  • Yahoo! mail played with creating a better email experience by enabling CSS & JavaScript in their emails.
  • Taking a user from an email to a browser is disruptive. Period.
  • Inboxes/email are going to need to get smarter. There will be a mobile version. An iPad version and a PC version. Maybe a TV version . . .
  • Email was the first social networks; specifically distribution lists. That’s how we all heard about things that were going on before Facebook & Twitter.

Because of the unique interface the iPad presents, the following things need considered when optimizing email for the iPad.

  • Email on the iPad needs to become a small/contained and potentially deep brand experience.
  • HTML5 needs to be established as the norm to enable interactivity. As we move from reading online to looking at pictures and watching videos, this means a different type of interactivity.
  • The touchweb is different than the web. Do links make sense or are buttons (like in apps) better? When should I use swiping as a navigational element instead of buttons?
  • The email needs to be contextual as possible given what the business knows about the customer’s preferences, location and time of day. (Peak iPad usage is 6am – 8am and 8pm – 1opm.)
  • Social hooks need to be completely integrated in email. It increases sharing, click through rates and make people money!

In some ways, it’s best to think of email on the iPad as a “mini-app”. How do I balance customization of information specific to the user while creating functionality that appeals to 99% of my users. It may actually be easier than you think. It also important to recognize that push alerts may supplant email as more businesses develop apps. That’s something Apple would love to see as they’d be able to pull data out of those alerts. Things are going to get messy and if email is going to survive, it needs to get smart. Quickly!

By Michael Myers

I'm an Associate Teaching Professor of Digital Marketing at the Daniels College of Business, University of Denver. I also consult with startups and established brands. I'm currently focused on artificial intelligence, cognitive neuroscience and culture. I am married to an amazing woman and have two incredible children. I was raised in Colorado and spend my free time with family, biking, snowboarding and going to the Pacific Ocean to SCUBA dive and/or surf. I'm passionate about architecture, design, street art, photography and the art that tattooing has evolved into.

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