I've noticed an annoying trend in my in-box: retailers that cry wolf. Although every subject line frantically warns me that it's my "LAST CHANCE" to get a discount, by some seeming miracle, the next day or week I usually get a similar offer. Once a sucker for any hint of free shipping, I have lost the sense of urgency that used to keep me online shopping at all hours of the day. Now I'm just running on boredom... which usually leads to more browsing than purchasing.
As somewhat of an e-mail marketer myself, I understand that through testing, you usually find that the dumbest subject lines, unfortunately, perform the best. But when it gets to the point where every sender is making the same empty threats, I have to imagine they lose their effectiveness.
I suggest companies stick to the tried and true "list" message: Top 10 Trends of the Season? Top 5 Shoe Repair Boutiques in Chicago? I don't care what is being ranked. I must find out who is no. 1. And if a freebie is thrown into the mix, even better. "Win the Top 10 Books of 2010"? ... yes, please.