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moving this response to a separate answer, since it's longer than comments allow...
I guess it takes two steps from receiving email go to visiting the site - click to open a message, read it and click on a link. At each step there is a chance that person will decide to do something else and the optimization goal here is to increase the "clickthrough".
I know increasing clickthrough is one way of thinking about email, but instead one might think of creating something as useful as possible for users, with increased clickthrough being a side effect. Being able to see what activity is going on at the site helps people stay engaged without having to visit the site; of course they will visit if they want to respond to questions, or ask their own questions, and maybe also to vote. With that in mind, how hard would it be to include a vote button in the email? (The link would have to contain some non-guessable key associated with the user, and maybe unique to that email. Maybe this is not feasible.)
In any case, perhaps one could think of improved email as "bringing the site to the user", at least as much as is reasonable.
Regarding subject lines:
Not everyone uses Gmail (I do use it, btw) so that optimization will be very specific to Gmail users.
What I'm suggesting really is that email from askbot should be similar to email one expects to receive from a discussion board or forum (or better!); I think that makes sense for users of any email system. And I agree that the descriptive phrase "new X" is not so important.
Of course my bias is that the sage community switched to askbot as a possible replacement/supplement to their user-support email list, so I'm paying particular attention to the ways askbot compares with an email group. But I think it's a natural comparison to make in general.
In any case, thanks for considering our suggestions :)