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All The Email Spam Words You Should Avoid: A 2024 List

You’ve spent time drafting your email with an engaging subject line, hoping to hit an all-time high email open record, only to discover that your emails didn’t even get to the recipient’s inbox but were flagged down by spam filters. This brings you to ask, “How do I avoid spam filters?”

As you’ll soon discover, avoiding spam filters goes beyond eliminating suspicious words in your subject line and email copy. In this blog post, you’ll learn proven strategies to avoid spam filters. We also share all the email spam words you should avoid. 

 

What are Spam Words?

Spam words refer to specific words or phrases that trigger email filters, suggesting your message might be unsolicited or misleading. Email service providers (ESPs) like Gmail and Hotmail use spam filters to identify and send these categories of emails to the spam folder. Stuffing your email copy or subject lines with spam trigger words can potentially send your email to the junk box, which does the following:

A study by Validity found that about 16% of emails, which translates to one in six emails, get blocked from the inbox and land in the spam folder. This is why you must avoid triggering spam filters when sending out emails.

How Do Email Filters Identify Spam Words?

Spam words screenshot from EngageBay author
A screenshot of my Spam folder

Beyond spam words, other factors can cause your email to be flagged as spam by email filters. After going through the emails in my spam folder, here are the common characteristics the flagged emails have in common. 

  • The use of certain spam words is often associated with scams, gimmicks, gifts, and adult content
  • Links pointing to questionable or untrustworthy websites
  • Messages or subject lines written entirely in capital letters
  • Use of fonts in different colors and sizes
  • Poorly structured HTML code
  • Emails without a clear option to unsubscribe

Consequently, to avoid your emails being flagged down as spam, it’s best to steer clear of the above.

Read also: Avoiding the Spam Folder: An Intro to Email Deliverability

How Spam Filters Evolved Over the Years

Detecting spam messages wasn’t as sophisticated in the past as it is today. Email filters were designed to spot only simple spam trigger words like “free” or “guarantee.” However, with the growth of email marketing, spam emails have become more sophisticated, making them more challenging to detect. 

Additionally, email spam trigger words were tweaked and often hidden in images to bypass filters, pushing email service providers to develop more advanced systems to detect spam messages. Here’s a progressive overview of how spam filtering technologies have evolved over the years:

  1. Heuristic analysis: This technology uses complex algorithms to analyze an email structure, word frequency, and sender’s reputation.
  2. Bayesian filtering: This was introduced in the early 2000s. It used the principles of Bayesian probability to learn from spam and non-spam messages, continuously refining its ability to differentiate between them.
  3. Machine learning and AI: One of the latest evolutions in spam filtering that incorporates machine learning and artificial intelligence (AI) to learn, analyze, and identify spam messaging patterns. Machine learning algorithms can adapt to new spamming techniques and provide a dynamic defense against spam.
  4. Sender reputation and authentication: Evaluate the sender reputation using techniques like SPF (Sender Policy Framework), DKIM (DomainKeys Identified Mail), and DMARC (Domain-based Message Authentication, Reporting, and Conformance) to verify the sender’s identity. This ensures that emails from reputable senders are less likely to be flagged as spam.

Email filters are continuously improving to spot spam messages and prevent them from misleading recipients. 

Read also: The Impact of Spam Complaint Rates on Email Deliverability

Spam Words to Avoid in Your Email Marketing

Words often too salesy, pushy, or just too good to be true are known to trigger email spam filters, pushing your emails straight to the junk folder. By knowing examples of such words, you can easily avoid them while drafting your email messages so they land in your recipient’s inbox and not the anti-spam filters.

Financial and promotional spam words

Financial and promotional spam words often affect recipients’ desires to get rich quickly or their fear of missing out (FOMO). Here are common spam trigger words in this category to avoid.

  1. 100% free
  2. 100% satisfied
  3. Act now
  4. Apply now
  5. Avoid bankruptcy
  6. Bargain
  7. Best price
  8. Big money
  9. Billion
  10. Bonus
  11. Cash bonus
  12. Cashback
  13. Chance
  14. Cheap
  15. Cash subject
  16. Clear debt
  17. Congratulations
  18. Initial investment
  19. Credit
  20. Deal
  21. Discount
  22. Dollar
  23. Double your cash
  24. Double your income
  25. Money order
  26. Earn extra cash
  27. Easy terms
  28. Online biz opportunity
  29. Expect to earn
  30. Hidden costs
  31. Hidden fees
  32. Extra cash
  33. Extra income
  34. Fast cash
  35. Financial freedom
  36. For just $ (amount)
  37. Free call
  38. Free access
  39. Save big money
  40. Free gift
  41. Free hosting
  42. Free info
  43. Free investment
  44. Free membership
  45. Free money
  46. Free offer
  47. Free preview
  48. Free quote
  49. Free trial
  50. Full refund

Urgency and pressure spam words

Creating a sense of urgency or applying pressure is a common tactic in email marketing; however, it requires caution. Common spam triggers like “Act now!” or “Limited time offer!” spur email recipients to take action fast, but when used too much, they don’t give the desired outcome. Here’s a list of urgency and pressure trigger words to avoid.

  1. Act now
  2. Immediate action is required
  3. Don’t miss out
  4. Limited time offers
  5. Urgent
  6. Instant access
  7. While stocks last
  8. Exclusive deal
  9. Hurry
  10. Last chance
  11. Offer expires
  12. Final sale
  13. Today only
  14. Clearance
  15. Before it’s too late
  16. Deadline
  17. Time-sensitive
  18. Only a few left
  19. One time
  20. Flash sale
  21. Act fast
  22. Rush
  23. Instant savings
  24. Don’t delay
  25. Closing soon
  26. Last minute
  27. Once in a lifetime
  28. Never again
  29. Now or never
  30. Tick-tock
  31. Countdown
  32. Expires soon
  33. Short-term offer
  34. Buy now
  35. Immediate response
  36. Limited availability
  37. Special promotion
  38. Quick
  39. Fast action bonus
  40. End soon
  41. Save big
  42. For a short time only
  43. Exclusive offer
  44. Final offer
  45. Last call
  46. Limited edition
  47. Limited number
  48. Limited time
  49. Must end soon
  50. Offer ending soon

Unethical and shady spam words to avoid

Email spam trigger words like “no credit check,” “miracle cure,” and “get rich quick” make exaggerated claims. A study by the Direct Marketing Association (DMA) highlighted the importance of trust in email marketing, noting that emails perceived as ethical were 50% more likely to be opened. Here’s a list of shady and unethical spam words to avoid.

  1. 100% free
  2. 100% satisfied
  3. Act now
  4. All-natural
  5. one hundred percent guaranteed
  6. Avoid bankruptcy
  7. Be your own boss
  8. Best price
  9. Big bucks
  10. Billions
  11. Cash bonus
  12. Cashcashcash
  13. Casino
  14. Celebrity
  15. Cheap
  16. Claims
  17. Clear debt
  18. Congratulations
  19. Credit card offers
  20. Cures baldness
  21. Direct email
  22. Direct marketing
  23. Double your cash
  24. Double your income
  25. Earn extra cash
  26. Earn money
  27. Easy terms
  28. Eliminate bad credit
  29. Email marketing
  30. Exclusive deal
  31. Expect to earn
  32. Fast cash
  33. Financial freedom
  34. Free access
  35. Sign up free today
  36. Free gift
  37. Free hosting
  38. Free info
  39. Free investment
  40. Free membership
  41. Free money
  42. Free preview
  43. Free quote
  44. Free trial
  45. Full refund
  46. Get out of debt
  47. Get paid
  48. Get started now
  49. Gift certificate
  50. Great offer

Medical and health-related spam words

Not all messages are perceived equally, especially regarding your health. Words like “instant weight loss,” and “miracle pill” are tagged as very harmful and are often flagged as spam words. Why? These terms are frequently used in misleading or fraudulent offers, promising quick fixes to complex health issues.

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has reported that misleading health claims are a significant concern, with thousands of complaints filed yearly. To prevent your emails from being sent to the email spam folder, here are examples of email spam words to avoid.

  1. Lose weight fast
  2. Miracle diet
  3. Fat-burning
  4. Herbal supplements
  5. Bodybuilding
  6. Detox cleanse
  7. Cure for diabetes
  8. Cancer treatment
  9. High blood pressure solution
  10. Cheap health insurance
  11. Affordable meds
  12. Discount prescription drugs
  13. Erectile dysfunction
  14. Instant arousal
  15. Libido booster
  16. Anti-aging
  17. Wrinkle remover
  18. Skin rejuvenation
  19. Anxiety relief
  20. Depression cure
  21. Stress reduction
  22. Muscle gain
  23. Fitness secrets
  24. Extreme workout
  25. Acupuncture
  26. Homeopathic remedy
  27. Energy healing
  28. Botox
  29. Liposuction
  30. Hair transplant
  31. Immunity booster
  32. Miracle cure
  33. Breakthrough formula
  34. Limited time offer
  35. Act now
  36. Online pharmacy
  37. Before it’s banned
  38. Discreet shipping
  39. No prescription needed
  40. Secure purchase
  41. Free trial
  42. 100% guaranteed
  43. No side effects

Read also: How To Set Up DMARC: Safeguard Your Business From Phishing

Six Strategies to Stay Safe From Spam Filters

With the information we’ve provided about spam trigger words, you may feel overwhelmed and wonder how you could write an email that ends up in recipients’ inboxes. Consequently, it’s essential to understand that it’s not just a single word that tips the balance. Instead, spam filters evaluate factors contributing to your email’s spam score.

This score determines whether your message is flagged as spam or not. The exact measurement varies across different email service providers. Still, the principle remains the same: higher scores increase the likelihood of your email being marked as spam.

To help you avoid increasing your spam score, we’ve put together some strategies for crafting effective emails without triggering spam filters.

1. Focus on context and personalization

Tailor your message to fit your audience’s needs and interests. Personalized emails resonate more with recipients and are less likely to be marked as spam.  According to a study by Campaign Monitor, emails with personalized subject lines are 26% more likely to be opened. Additionally, write as if conversing with a friend.

This approach helps avoid the stilted language that spam filters often detect. Conversational email copy achieves a 3.7% higher open rate than traditional marketing language.

2. Be mindful of your word choices

Avoid overused sales language like “Buy now!” or “Limited offer!” as they can trigger spam filters. Instead, opt for language that invites engagement without pressure. HubSpot reports that emails without spammy phrases have a higher click-through rate (CTR) than those with many spam phrases.

Having said that, if you must use terms commonly associated with spam, find synonyms that convey your message without setting off red flags. According to a study by Return Path, using less common, more specific words can decrease spam scores by up to 20%.

3. Engage, don’t overwhelm

A survey by Mediabuzz found that 34% of consumers prefer less promotional and more informative emails. Provide valuable content without overwhelming your readers with too many calls to action or links. A balanced email is more engaging and less likely to be seen as spam. Offer insights, tips, or stories that add value to your readers’ lives.

Emails that educate tend to have lower spam scores. Content Marketing Institute found that educational emails see a 19% increase in click-through rate compared to sales-focused messages.

4. Optimize your email structure

our email subject line should reflect the content of your email accurately. Misleading email subject lines can increase spam scores and erode trust with your audience. According to a report by Yesware, clear and direct subject lines result in an open rate increase of up to 50%. For example, Instead of using “Important financial update inside!” as your subject line, use “Your April Account Statement.” 

Secondly, format your email properly. Use a clean layout with proper text formatting. Emails that are difficult to read or filled with excessive bolding, colors, or exclamation points may trigger spam filters. A study by Litmus shows that emails optimized for readability see a 40% increase in engagement. 

5. Maintain a healthy sending reputation

A report from Sender Score shows that senders with a score above 90 see inbox placement rates of 92% or higher. Your sender score influences how email service providers view your emails. A high score means you’re less likely to be flagged as spam.

This is what a sender score metrics look like:

Avoid Spam filters
Source

Additionally, regularly clean your email list. Remove inactive subscribers and those who have opted out. This improves engagement rates and decreases the chance of being marked as spam. According to Email List Verify, regular email list hygiene can improve email deliverability by up to 20%.

By implementing these strategies, you can effectively communicate with your audience without being triggered by email filters. 

Read also: How To Remove Your Email From The Spam List: A Guide

Quick Tips to Maintain Healthy Email Deliverability

Maintaining a healthy email deliverability profile is essential for ensuring your messages reach your audience’s inbox. Here are some tips that can be implemented to improve email deliverability.

  1. Clean your email list regularly: Remove inactive subscribers who haven’t engaged with your emails in a set period. This helps to determine subscribers who are still actively engaging with your message.
  2. Engage your subscribers: Only send relevant content to them. Use segmentation to tailor your messages so they’re relevant. The more they engage, the better your deliverability.
  3. Always get their permission: Ensure you have explicit consent to email someone. This improves engagement and is a legal requirement under the CAN-SPAM Act.
  4. Include an unsubscribe link: You must provide your subscribers with a means to stop receiving your emails and honor their requests promptly. This is not just good practice; it’s the law.
  5. Monitor your sender reputation: Use tools like Sender Score and Mx toolbox to check your sender score, which affects your email deliverability. A poor score can land you in the spam folder.
  6. Comply with the CAN-SPAM Act: This means no misleading headers, clear identification as an ad, and including your physical postal address in emails.

By focusing on these strategies and practices, you can improve your email deliverability, engage more effectively with your subscribers, and ensure your campaigns comply with legal requirements. 

Read also: How to Comply with Email Laws and Win Customers

Conclusion

It is important to note that while you’ve crafted a compelling message, you won’t see any results if the emails ends in the spam folder. Spam trigger words can trip up even the best emails. By avoiding these red flags your message will reach its destination.

Brands that frequently send spam messages are at a higher risk of being perceived as untrustworthy, leading to their emails being flagged as scams, harming their domain reputation. Spamming also damages a brand’s email deliverability and reputation, making it increasingly difficult for your communications to reach the intended inbox. 

So, if you are an email marketer looking to improve your email deliverability rate and sender reputation, ensure you steer clear of the spam words highlighted in this blog post and every other practice that can trigger spam filters. 

Frequently Asked Questions

How can I check if my email is likely to be marked as spam?

To see if your email might get marked as spam, use tools like SpamAssassin. These tools check your email’s content and tell you if it looks spammy. Ensure your subject line and email body don’t have too many spam words. 

Are there exceptions where using ‘spam words’ is acceptable?

Yes, sometimes, using words that are seen as spammy is okay. If you’re talking about an actual sale or a special offer, and it’s essential for your message, then it’s okay. The key is not to overuse them so they don’t tip your spam score.  

How frequently should I clean my email list?

You should clean your email list regularly, considering a three—to six-month period. This means removing people who don’t open your emails anymore. Cleaning your list helps improve your sender’s reputation and email performance, which can help your emails stay out of the spam folder.

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