Apple’s iPad: redefining the email experience

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Photo of iPad showing an emailEveryone’s talking about the iPad right now. I’ve been thinking about how it’ll affect email marketers. I believe it’s going to redefine the experience of reading email, along with some incredible benefits for email marketers:

  • Recipients who are relaxed and engaged
  • Huge preview pane
  • Images in emails displayed by default
  • Support for video in email
  • Large, vivid color screen

Reading experience

The iPad is designed to be used informally. This is big. Recipients of your emails aren’t at their desk, stressed out and racing through a pile of emails. They’re on their sofa, relaxed—ready to read, browse and absorb your content. This will make for a much higher level of engagement.

Photo of man using an iPad on a sofa

The built-in email client on the iPad has a massive (approximately 700 x 580px) preview pane. The is huge compared to desktop email clients like Outlook. They’re going to see much more of your email at a glance.

Couple this with a beautiful 135 ppi display; images displayed by default; and video support. HTML email is going to look better than ever before.

Standards support

It’s likely that your emails will look great on the iPad right off the bat. Very little email testing will be required. That’s because it’s using the Webkit rendering engine under the hood. This is the same engine used in Apple Mail and on the iPhone. Its standards support is excellent—emails display as the designer intended.

Images

Images will be displayed by default, just like in Apple Mail and on the iPhone. This means graphically-rich email designs will look fantastic on the iPad’s bright screen. No broken image boxes here, thank you.

Video

Most exciting is video. With its built-in HTML5 support, the iPad can play video from right inside your email. My guess is that Campaign Monitor’s HTML5 video code will work immediately on the iPad. It’s time to seriously start focussing on using video in your email campaigns.

Uptake

None of this is much use if the iPad doesn’t take off, but I’d wager it’s going to be a hit. Within a year of the iPhone’s release, we were seeing 5% of our recipients reading our email campaigns on their iPhone (we tracked this using Fingerprint, here’s our email client usage report).

By this time next year, 5% of your mailing list could be reading your campaigns on their iPad. Thanks to Apple, there’s never been a more exciting time to be designing email campaigns.

Update 4 February

David Greiner from Campaign Monitor has a great article with his thoughts on the iPad in relation to email designers. Here’s something he realized that I completely missed…

Compared to every other web and desktop email client on the market, the iPad email client is noticeably free of the distraction. There isn’t a crowded chrome loaded with options, a sidebar of mailboxes and folders or a column of advertising.

I’d recommend checking out his entire article to read all his insights.