As I write e-mail marketing articles I subscribe to dozens of lists and it can be an effort to read through them. Last year I made notes about which I liked and why.
1. Conform to the law:
Customers are becoming more sophisticated and recognise those companies which ignore the requirements of the law. I personally don't mind a valiant attempt to get somewhere near the regulations, although I would be reluctant to suggest the regulators agree. If the company doesn't conform to email marketing regulations one wonders if they can be trusted.
2. Be truthful:
If you expect to reduce the price of an offer in a months time to get rid of stock, telling me an offer is at an unrepeatable price can be really irritating.
3. Use your data:
Do not send a repeat offer to a subscriber who has already bought the item. The strength of e-mail marketing is in the way you can define your subscribers so there is no excuse for patronising those who already know.
4. Be upfront:
The headline price must be achievable and not only by one or two customers. Clear and accurate pricing means that the person can concentrate on what you are selling rather than how much the final page will demand.
5. All information available:
If your product (such as software) does not work with all operating systems or file types make sure you make this clear at an early stage. It doesn't have to be on the e-mail proper; clickthrough is perfectly satisfactory. If the customer buys the item and it is not what they want then there is the expense of returns and perhaps an unsubscribe link clicked.
6. Bright and cheerful:
Be different. There is no excuse in e-mail marketing for being one of the crowd. Stand out, use a little initiative and catch their attention.
In summary, I would suggest that you should be honest, obey the law, do not irritate your customers and ensure that your e-mail is attractive. I'm not suggesting this is the answer to every problem but if it increases your returns by 1% then it is worth doing.