The launch of Apple’s new iPad tablet computer has set off a firestorm of plaudits and criticisms, but one thing is certain: The Age Of The iPad has begun and it will change email marketing forever.

The iPad Has Created The Tablet Market

Whether you’re on the side of “If Saint Steve Jobs sells it, I’ll buy it” or “Where’s the camera / replaceable battery / multitasking / Flash / Skype / USB / HDMI / OLED…” you have to admit that the iPad (enough sanitary jokes already, thank you) has certainly shaken up the consumer electronics sector. iPad version 1.0 may not be a sales success to parallel some of Apple’s previous smash hits, but it is indisputable that Saint Steve has opened the floodgates to tablet computing and we can expect the waves of tablets from a flotilla of brands to saturate the market soon.

Get The Jump On Your Competition

The first iPads won’t be on sale for two to three months, so right now is the time to look ahead to determine the best way that you can appeal to tablet owners. It’s obvious that one of the primary uses of tablets will be email, so Apple may just have presented a late Christmas gift to email marketers everywhere. The marketers who are able to appeal specifically to tablet owners and concoct email campaigns that take advantage of the particular characteristics of the new breed of tablets are the ones who are going to obtain significant success. The market is there for the taking.

Although it can be argued that many of its features have already been present for a while on existing tablet PCs, the iPad has established a new paradigm in the minds of consumers: The “pinch and swoosh” hands-on manipulation of tablet functions will soon become the standard. In the midst of this futuristic eye candy platform, will your staid, basic, straightforward email even be noticed?

Tablets Require Different, Dynamic, Interactive Emails

This is the time to make that tech consultant earn their hefty hourly rate. Figure out a way to either have your emails display differently when they are read on an iPad, or have the tablet functions set up so that they can be activated either by hand or mouse motions. If you can pull off that technical coup, you can then have your emails take full advantage of iPaddery:

  • Have something interesting happen when the user turns the unit from landscape to portrait.
  • Place a series of images, or effects, or “something” that the user can pinch and swoosh around.
  • Go multi-page so that the fancy “page turning” effect can be implemented.
  • Make your email visually relate to the side list bar when the email client is in landscape mode.
  • Create an app or iTunes download that ties into your brand and preview it in your iPad email.
  • Don’t Pile On The Gimmicks Without Relevance

Remember the early days of Mozilla browsers when most websites were full of flashing, dancing, jiggling, strobing junk? Good. Avoid that. You don’t want to put in special effects just to show you can. iPad owners are going to be web-savvy and you will need to relate your pyrotechnics to both your message and their sensibilities to keep from alienating them.

The Age Of The iPad is certainly going to be an exciting one for email marketing. As with every other major technical innovation, there will be those who will blaze a pioneering path to reap the benefits and others who fail to grasp the impact until it’s too late. Which side will you be on?