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The Future of Reading Will Be Touch-Driven (Including E-mails)

  |  October 11, 2010   |  Comments

The day of the device is here. E-mail marketers will need to rethink the design and navigation of their e-mails.

Sometimes I feel like a broken record when I discover a new insight or trend. It seems like no one wants to accept change is coming and, especially in e-mail, you have to keep evangelizing until some of the more forward thinking e-mail marketers give something a whirl and validate the thought. So here is my current rant: the future of digital reading will be driven by a touch experience. This means e-mails too.

I recently just completed some research with the Harrison Group on the impact of tablet-based technologies with consumers. It covers insights from consumers who have e-readers, like a kindle, and/or tablet based devices, like an iPad, as well as purchase intent. It's a very interesting study for a bunch of reasons and you should check out the press release, which has tons of stats. But for e-mail marketers, this is the onset of a big change.

Essentially, this study indicates that the day of the device is here. Consumers love it for its convenience, and it is only a matter of time before we all have one. All of these new fangled devices are built to include intuitive usage – aka – touchscreen navigation. This means e-mails too.

For you as an e-mail marketer, it means you will need to rethink the design and navigation of your e-mails. Yes, those Johnson-box-like, above-the-fold calls to action can stay, but they better be big enough to enable someone to press them with a finger to click.

Better yet, you know all those beautiful images retailers put in e-mails? No need to worry about link placements anymore, people will be reaching out and touching the parts of your e-mail they love the best.

Finally! We have creativity back in our e-mails. This new design opportunity opens up creative elements many of us have forgotten about. What if your e-mail had five images you could reorder as you read to build and save your own personally laid out e-mail? (We used to have that 10 years ago.) What will happen when you can shop inside the e-mail all the time again without having to worry about JavaScript being stripped? How happy will we be when the e-mail allows you to pinch and zoom to increase the image view, vs. having to rely on a click to a website?

It's here everyone, and you have 18 months or less to start testing. Anyone who is testing this already is encouraged to share your efforts in the comment section. Let's start building some best practices on this!


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Jeanniey Mullen

Jeanniey Mullen is the vice president of marketing at NOOK by Barnes and Noble, focused on business growth and customer acquisition.

Prior to her role at NOOKTM Jeanniey launched a wearables fashion technology company called Ringblingz. Before getting into the wearables business, Jeanniey was the chief marketing officer (CMO) of Zinio, where she grew the business by more than 427 percent, into one of the largest global digital newsstands. Other notable roles in her career include her involvement as the executive director and senior partner at OgilvyOne, where she led the digital Dialogue business and worked with Fortune 50 brands including IBM, Unilever, and American Express, and being a general manager at Grey Direct. At Grey Direct Jeanniey launched the first email marketing division of a global advertising agency. Prior to her time in advertising, Jeanniey spent seven years in retail leading a variety of groups from Consumer Relations and Operations, to Collections and Digital at JCPenney.

One of Jeanniey's favorite times in her career was when she founded the Email Experience Council (which was acquired by the Direct Marketing Association). Jeanniey is a recognized "Women in Business," a frequent keynote speaker, and has authored three books and launched a number of companies ranging from entertainment to technology and fashion.

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