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200+ Spam Trigger Keywords to Avoid in Your Emails

Holly Pels
Holly Pels , Digital Content Manager , Emarsys

Every email campaign has one common enemy: the spam filter. Crafting a concise subject line that encapsulates the content of the email, while also engaging recipients is challenging on its own. But, it’s also crucial that you pay close attention to your word choice.

Word choice will directly impact the deliverability of your emails, and common spam trigger keywords could send your emails directly to the junk folder. Recipients are looking for more from brands than buzzwords and marketing plays – they want personalization.

The most successful brands are the ones that commit to creating a true dialogue with their audiences. The bottom line is that, if you’re frequently using keywords in your emails that tend to be flagged, those emails will not lead to the results you might be expecting. 

Crafting Subject Lines with Purpose 

When it comes to email, every word counts. And, it all begins with the subject line.  Any marketer will tell you that an engaging and catchy subject line can make or break the success of an email campaign.

The subject line is the first thing that your recipients will see. Filling it with keywords that filters register as spam will decrease the chances of your email even making it the inbox. When you are working towards reaching certain benchmarks and goals for your brand, keep in mind that every word carries weight and that they must be chosen carefully and purposefully.

Some words have the power to increase engagement, while others do nothing except make sure your email campaigns don’t get off the ground. Spam filters are advancing to the point that they understand the context of your email. Avoiding the inclusion of spam keywords unless they are absolutely necessary is the best way to dodge the crunch of email spam filters.

Keywords to Avoid So Your Emails Stay Clear of the Spam Folder

We have compiled a list of popular keywords that will have a negative effect on the deliverability of your emails and impact your spam score:

Call to Actions to Avoid

As marketers, we know how important calls to action are in our emails. But we also know that the customer experience and intent of our email are just as important. The more direct you can be in your ask, the better. Here are a few CTA keywords you should avoid:

1. Access
2. Act Now!
3. Apply now
4. Apply Online
5. Avoid
6. Bonus
7. Buy
8. Click
9. Collect
10. Compare
11. Compete for your business
12. Dig up dirt on friends
13. Do it today
14. Don’t delete
15. Don’t hesitate
16. Double your
17. Earn
18. Explode your business
19. Get
20. Give (it) away
21. Help
22. Increase sales
23. Increase traffic
24. Increase your sales
25. Join millions
26. Leave
27. Lose
28. Meet singles
29. Open
30. Opt-in
31. Order
32. Please read
33. Print form signature
34. Print out and fax
35. Produced and sent out
36. Remove
37. See for yourself
38. Sign up free today
39. Stop
40. Subscribe
41. Take action now
42. Unsubscribe
43. Visit our website
44. Win

Adjectives to Avoid

Adjectives offer marketers the ability to create a more enticing offer for their customer. How could you not want a soft, plush new sweater perfect for Fall? Using them should make products and services stand out for customers. The use of adjectives can make a customer feel like a product is perfect for them. But sometimes, marketers use words that focus more on a brand selling products than a product being perfect for a customer, like the following:

45. Affordable
46. Certified
47. Dormant
48. Free
49. Hidden
50. Instant
51. Maintained
52. Medium
53. Miracle
54. Now
55. Reverse
56. Risk free
57. Unlimited
58. Unsolicited
59. Urgent

Questions to Avoid

There’s nothing wrong with asking questions in your subject line. Check your inbox, I’m sure you have plenty of marketing emails asking you different questions there now. But like any marketing email, context matters. The questions should matter to a customer and fall in line with what they expect to see when they open the email. Avoid using questions that seem like they could apply to any product or service like the following:

60. Have you been turned down?
61. What are you waiting for?
62. Who really wins?
63. Why pay more?

Characters to avoid

When it comes to characters in a subject line (or body content), context is important. Overuse of characters or blanket offers can be off-putting to customers, especially if the message that accompanies them doesn’t align with your product or services. Consider the use of the following very carefully:

64. ALL CAPITALS
65. 4U
66. !
67. $
68. #
69. %

Financial-Related Keywords to Avoid

If you were to click into your SPAM folder, you’ll find probably find more financial-related subject lines than anything else. With so many “Get Rich Quick!” schemes and hacking liabilities around the internet, it’s best to avoid the following in your marketing emails:

70. Accept credit cards
71. Additional income
72. Billion
73. Big bucks
74. Cents on the dollar
75. Cheap
76. Check
77. Clearance
78. Consolidate debt and credit
79. Consolidate your debt
80. Cost
81. Credit
82. Deal
83. Discount
84. Drastically reduced
85. Eliminate bad credit
86. Eliminate debt
87. Expect to earn
88. Extra income
89. Fast cash
90. Financial freedom
91. Financially independent
92. For free
93. For just $XXX
94. For only
95. Full refund
96. Great offer
97. Income
98. Incredible deal
99. Investment
100. Loans
101. Lower interest rate
102. Lower monthly payment
103. Lower your mortgage rate
104. Lowest insurance rates
105. Lowest price
106. Make $
107. Make money
108. Million
109. Money
110. No credit check
111. No purchase necessary
112. Potential earnings
113. Pre-approved
114. Price
115. Pure profit
116. Profits
117. Quote
118. Refinance
119. Requires initial investment
120. Sale
121. Serious cash
122. Social security number
123. Special promotion
124. Stuff on sale
125. Subject to credit
126. Stock alert
127. Stock disclaimer statement
128. Stock picks
129. The best rates
130. They keep your money — no refund!
131. Unsecured credit
132. Unsecured debt
133. Warranty
134. Your income

Disclaimers to Avoid

If a customer gave you her email address, chances are she wants some kind of communication from you. Knowing that, a marketer should be able to entice an open with the product or service you offer. Avoid tacking on unnecessary disclaimers like the following:

135. As seen on
136. Confidentially on all orders
137. Easy terms
138. Important information regarding
139. Information you requested
140. Info you requested
141. In accordance with laws
142. Limited Time
143. Message contains
144. No age restrictions
145. No catch
146. No claim forms
147. No cost
148. No disappointment
149. No experience
150. No fees
151. No gimmick
152. No hidden costs
153. No inventory
154. No investment
155. No medical exams
156. No middleman
157. No obligation
158. No questions asked
159. No selling
160. No strings attached
161. Not intended
162. Not spam
163. One time
164. Real thing
165. Supplies are limited
166. Sent in compliance
167. They’re just giving it away
168. This isn’t junk
169. This isn’t spam
170. Undisclosed recipient
171. We hate spam
172. We honor all
173. Will not believe your eyes
174. You are a winner!
175. You’re a winner!
176. You have been selected

Other Keywords to Avoid

177. Acceptance
178. Accordingly
179. Ad
180. Addresses on CD
181. Attention
182. Auto email removal
183. Billing address
184. Brand new pager
185. Bulk email
186. Casino
187. Celebrity
188. Chance
189. Claims
190. Congratulations
191. Copy accurately
192. Copy DVDs
193. Cures baldness
194. Dear [email/friend/somebody]
195. Diagnostics
196. Direct email
197. Direct marketing
198. Email harvest
199. Email marketing
200. Fantastic deal
201. Fast Viagra delivery
202. Form
203. For instant access
204. For you
205. Friend
206. Gift certificate
207. Guarantee
208. Hello
209. Here
210. Home
211. Home based
212. Home employment
213. Human growth hormone
214. If only it were that easy
215. Insurance
216. Internet market
217. It’s effective
218. Laser printer
219. Legal
220. Life Insurance
221. Lifetime
222. Long distance phone offer
223. Luxury car
224. Mail in order form
225. Marketing
226. Mass email
227. Medicine
228. Member
229. Name brand
230. Never
231. New domain extensions
232. Nigerian
233. Online biz opportunity
234. Online degree
235. Online marketing
236. Online pharmacy
237. Only
238. Opportunity
239. Outstanding values
240. Phone
241. Priority mail
242. Prize
243. Problem
244. Promise you
245. Reminder
246. Rolex
247. Sample
248. Satisfaction
249. Score with babes
250. Search engine
251. Shopper
252. Shopping spree
253. Solution
254. Stainless steel
255. Success
256. Teen
257. Terms and conditions
258. The following form
259. Thousands
260. Time limited
261. Trial
262. University diplomas
263. US dollars
264. Vacation
265. Valium
266. Viagra
267. Vicodin
268. Web traffic
269. Weekend getaway
270. Weight loss
271. While supplies last
272. While you sleep
273. Wife
274. Work at home
275. Work from home
276. Xanax

This is by no means a definitive list of every spam keyword to avoid when you are putting together your email campaigns and structuring your subject lines. Rather, it is meant to show the types of words that are frequently flagged by spam filters.

By staying away from the trigger words listed above, you can help prevent your emails from finding their way to the spam folder.

Final Thoughts

Getting flagged as spam is the worst-case scenario for your email efforts. By leveraging data and creating personalized content, your emails will resonate with recipients, and avoiding spammy keywords will help make sure they won’t get flagged as spam.

Carefully consider which words you want to feature in the subject line of your emails as well as the body content. Each individual word will impact the effectiveness of your efforts.

Learn more about how Emarsys can help you create powerful, one-to-one email campaigns.

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