email spam trigger words header

Writing content for your next email newsletter can be one of the most stressful steps before hitting the send button, especially when you’re trying to avoid spam trigger words and get your email through to your customer’s inbox.

Spam filters and ISPs are working to create a better experience for consumers, one that excludes emails that are irrelevant to the recipient. According to ReturnPath, an email data solutions provider, less than 80% of commercial emails in the US reached the intended recipients’ inboxes worldwide. If you want your emails to make it into the 20% that get delivered, it’s important for you to understand how content and context affect your email spam score.

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The good news is that spam filters used to be a lot harder to understand than they are today. Even five years ago it was hit or miss – you knew to avoid using too many exclamation points, too many mentions of anything “free,” and any mention of money. But we didn’t truly understand which trigger words caused spam filters to push our emails to the spam box without purchasing expensive third-party software.

But that’s no longer the case.

Spam filters are still a curious thing, but they’re a lot easier to gauge now. Spam filters are very similar to search engines and have become more sophisticated. Now, when you’re working on getting your emails into your prospects’ inboxes, there are a number of different aspects to consider.

Avoid Common Spam Trigger Words

The first step is making sure you’re avoiding common spam trigger words.

Email spam filters still look at the content within your email to decide whether it goes into the spam folder of your customer’s inbox, but (and I can’t emphasize this enough) it all depends on the context in which you use these words and phrases.

We’ve compiled a very thorough list of words and phrases you should try to avoid. You’ll notice that some of the words on this list are pretty innocuous – they may even appear in your favorite email newsletter, or another marketing email that made it into your inbox. That’s why it’s important to remember context is just as important as content.

Email Spam Trigger Words
 This isn’t a scam Earn per week Mail in order form Reverses
#1 Easy terms Maintained Reverses aging
$$$ Eliminate bad credit Make $ Risk free
‘Hidden’ assets Eliminate debt Make money Rolex
100% free Email harvest Marketing Round the world
100% Satisfied Email marketing Marketing solutions S 1618
4U Expect to earn Mass email Safeguard notice
50% off Explode your business Medicine Sale
Accept credit cards Extra income Medium Sales
Acceptance F r e e Meet singles Sample
Access Fantastic deal Member Satisfaction
Accordingly Fast cash Member stuff Satisfaction guaranteed
Act Now Fast Viagra delivery Message contains Save $
Act Now! Financial freedom Message contains disclaimer Save big money
Act now! Don’t hesitate! Financially independent Million Save up to
Ad For free Million dollars Score with babes
Additional income For instant access Miracle Search engine listings
Addresses on CD For just $ (some amount) MLM Search engines
Affordable For just $xxx Money Section 301
All natural For Only Money back See for yourself
All new For you Money making Sent in compliance
Amazing Form Month trial offer Serious cash
Amazing stuff Free More Internet Traffic Serious only
Apply now Free access Mortgage Shopper
Apply Online Free cell phone Mortgage rates Shopping spree
As seen on Free consultation Multi level marketing Sign up free today
Auto email removal Free consultation Multi-level marketing Social security number
Avoid Free DVD Name brand Solution
Avoid bankruptcy Free gift Never Special promotion
Bargain Free grant money New customers only Stainless steel
Be amazed Free hosting New domain extensions Stock alert
Be your own boss Free info Nigerian Stock disclaimer statement
Being a member Free installation No age restrictions Stock pick
Beneficiary Free Instant No catch Stop
Best price Free investment No claim forms Stop snoring
Beverage Free leads No cost Strong buy
Big bucks Free membership No credit check Stuff on sale
Bill 1618 Free money No disappointment Subject to cash
Billing address Free offer No experience Subject to credit
Billion Free preview No fees Subscribe
Billion dollars Free priority mail No gimmick Success
Bonus Free quote No hidden Supplies are limited
Brand new pager Free sample No inventory Take action now
Bulk email Free trial No investment Talks about hidden charges
Buy Free website No medical exams Talks about prizes
Buy direct Freedom No middleman Teen
Buying judgements Friend No obligation Tells you it’s an ad
Buying judgments Full refund No purchase necessary Terms and conditions
Cable converter Get No questions asked The best rates
Call Get it now No selling The following form
Call free Get out of debt No strings attached They keep your money – no refund
Call now Get paid No-obligation They’re just giving it away
Calling creditors Get started now Not intended This isn’t junk
Cancel at any time Gift certificate Notspam This isn’t spam
Cannot be combined with any other offer Give it away Now This won’t last
Can’t live without Giving away Now only Thousands
Cards accepted Great offer Obligation Time limited
Cash Guarantee Off shore Trial
Cash bonus Guaranteed Offer Undisclosed recipient
Cashcashcash Have you been turned down? Offer expires University diplomas
Casino Hello Once in lifetime Unlimited
Celebrity Here One hundred percent free Unsecured credit
Cell phone cancer scam Hidden One hundred percent guaranteed Unsecured credit/debt
Cents on the dollar Hidden assets One time Unsecured debt
Certified Hidden charges One time mailing Unsolicited
Chance Home Online biz opportunity Unsubscribe
Cheap Home based Online degree Urgent
Check Home employment Online marketing US dollars
Check or money order Homebased business Online pharmacy Vacation
Claims Human growth hormone Only Vacation offers
Claims not to be selling anything If only it were that easy Only $ Valium
Claims to be in accordance with some spam law Important information regarding Open Viagra
Claims to be legal In accordance with laws Opportunity Viagra and other drugs
Clearance Income Opt in Vicodin
Click Income from home Order Visit our website
Click below Increase sales Order now Wants credit card
Click here Increase traffic Order shipped by Warranty
Click to remove Increase your sales Order status We hate spam
Collect Incredible deal Order today We honor all
Collect child support Info you requested Orders shipped by Web traffic
Compare Information you requested Outstanding values Weekend getaway
Compare rates Instant Passwords Weight loss
Compete for your business Insurance Pennies a day What are you waiting for?
Confidentially on all orders Internet market Per day While supplies last
Congratulations Internet marketing Per week While you sleep
Consolidate debt and credit Investment Performance Who really wins?
Consolidate your debt Investment decision Phone Why pay more?
Copy accurately It’s effective Please read Wife
Copy DVDs It’s effective Potential earnings Will not believe your eyes
Cost Join millions Pre-approved Win
Costs Join millions of Americans Price Winner
Credit Laser printer Prices Winner
Credit bureaus Leave Print form signature Winning
Credit card offers Legal Print out and fax Won
Cures baldness Life Priority mail Work at home
Deal Life Insurance Prize Work from home
Dear [email/friend/somebody] Lifetime Prizes Xanax
Diagnostics limited time Problem You are a winner!
Dig up dirt on friends Limited time offer Produced and sent out You have been selected
Direct email Limited time only Profits You’re a Winner!
Direct marketing Loans Promise you Your income
Discount Long distance phone offer Pure Profits You’re a Winner!
Do it today Lose Quote
Don’t delete Lose weight Quotes
Don’t hesitate Lose weight spam Real thing
Dormant Lower interest rate Refinance
Double your Lower interest rates Refinance home
Double your income Lower monthly payment Refinanced home  
Drastically reduced Lower your mortgage rate Removal instructions  
Earn Lowest insurance rates Remove  
Earn $ Lowest Price Removes wrinkles  
Earn extra cash Luxury car Reserves the right  

Avoid Using Too Many Symbols

ISP filters look for more than just spam trigger words, they also scan your content for symbols, punctuation, and capitalization.

  • Avoid multiple exclamation points – Try to avoid using more than one exclamation point at the end of a sentence. Expert copywriters often suggest you remove them all together, relying on your words to provide the emphasis instead of an exclamation point.
  • Avoid all caps – The only time this may be appropriate is when using caps for a call to action. Adding “BUY THIS AWESOME PRODUCT NOW!!!!” in the middle of your sales copy is spammy and can land you in the spam folder.
  • Avoid over usage of dollar sign$ –Like exclamation points, too many dollar signs can cause red flags with spam filters.

Try to find a nice balance of symbols in your email content, and stick to proper capitalization and punctuation as much as possible. You don’t have to avoid symbols completely, but it’s important that they fit into the context of the email.

Avoid Weird Formatting

How you format your content is just as important as what the subject matter of the content. Try to avoid suspicious formatting in your email, such as:

  • Using punctuation when it’s not need!?!!
  • Writing in multiple font colors for effect
  • Using different font sizes in the same sentence
  • CaPiTaLiZaTiOn issues
  • Bolding or italicizing more than a few words in each sentence

Not only do these formatting issue cause spam filter issues, they can also annoy your recipients. If your email happens to get into their inbox using strange formatting, they may mark your email as spam anyway.

Avoid URL Shorteners

Want to look like a spammer? Use a shortened link in your email!

Avoid URL shorteners in your email copy. Spammers often use shorteners to hide their URLS and because of this, many popular URL shorteners, such as bit.ly, have been put on ISP block lists. This means your email will automatically be blocked, even if you follow every other best practice. Plus URL shorteners are not needed if you’re using a marketing automation tool; your tool will automatically attach any tracking parameters necessary to measure engagement with your email.

Subject Line Context is Important Too

newsletter

Think of your subject line as an article headline.

It’s arguably the most important part of any email message. Recipients will choose whether to open your email depending only on the subject line and pre-header text.

Our advice when it comes to subject lines:

Your subject line should match and describe the context of your email.

This is your chance to set expectations for recipients. The best subject lines tell recipients what’s inside instead of trying to sell them something. Trying to sell something in the subject line will usually involve spam trigger words. There go your chances of getting into the inbox!

Wait… So you’re telling me my subject lines have to be stale and uncreative?!

Not at all! Be as creative as you’d like, as long as you are setting an appropriate expectation for what’s inside the email.

A common headline writing technique I’ve used is to write 25 different subject lines. Subject lines 1-10 are going to a breeze. It’s after 10 when it starts to get harder to think of creative subject lines. 20-24 get even harder, and number 25 is the hardest of all.

Why do I do this? It makes me think outside the box and be more creative. When drafting an email subject line, the first few you think of will be less creative than #24 or #25.

According to Mailchimp, the subject line you use can be the different between an open rate of 60-87% or 1-14%.

Subject lines should also match expectations from your signup form.

Are your subscribers expecting a traditional email newsletter or are they expecting to receive special offers and promotions from your company?

Remember the verbiage you used on your signup form before pressing send.

Is there a universal subject line that converts better than others?

Short answer: no.

Long answer: Still no, but there are some practices you can apply universally to increase your open rates, such as A/B testing.

Are you sending the email to influencers, a newsletter list, blog subscribers, or maybe even an email list you bought? (Please don’t buy lists; good email addresses aren’t for sale.)

Every case is different and it’s depends on the context, but here is what we suggest you do when writing a subject line:

  1. Make your subject line personal, if possible
  2. Make it relevant and within context
  3. Write like you’re emailing a friend
  4. Be creative, humor is allowed
  5. Promise something useful or actionable, if possible

Here are a few examples of subject lines that follow these guidelines:

  • Thanks for Getting in Touch
  • [Benefit] for [recipient’s company]
  • [Number] tips for [recipient’s pain point]
  • Your Next Step
  • The [self-identifier]’s Guide to [Topic]
  • Imagine [desired result] and Loving Every Minute of It!

Conclusion

You may have come here looking for a long list of email spam trigger words, but I hope you’re leaving with a better understanding of how to avoid spam filters and get subscribers to open your emails. Stop focusing on a long list of words to avoid and start focusing on the context.

What are your subscribers expecting? Does your subject line match that context? Does the subject line match the content of your email? What subject lines work best for you? Let us know in the comments.

Email Marketing That Works