Start with the basics: Lists, offer, message, and timing. Add a healthy dose of respect for your audience. Present it with a professional layout and copy that shows you know what you're doing. Then take your pick of some pretty exciting technologies to stand out from the clutter and get stellar results.
Who turns down a lucrative assignment? We do, when we recognize that the client's problem needs a different, and simpler, solution.
Some years ago, Microsoft asked us to rewrite an email letter that was failing miserably. They knew that the subject line was working, because the email was being opened. But apparently it was closed just as quickly, because hardly anyone clicked through. The response rate was 10% of projections.
One look, though, and we realized that there was nothing wrong with the copy. The problem was with the layout. It was attractive and on brand, but it was designed for print, not email.
Human beings are highly adaptable creatures. We're capable of gleaning information from just about any medium you throw at us, from the printed page to the holographic displays that will surely be on the market someday.
But we scan that information differently, depending on the medium. Some of that behavior has to do with experience, some with cultural differences, and some with simple comfort. As consumers of information, the process is automatic. We don't have to think abut it. But when we start designing media, we'd better think about it. Or we'll get lousy click-though rates and responses at 10% of projections.
So instead of rewriting the Microsoft letter, we suggested that they make changes to the layout to accommodate the way people read emails, and test it again. On the test, it handily met projections, and it did just as well on roll-out.