202 email spam trigger words that will get you in trouble in 2020

Libby Margo in Email marketing on 2nd of Feb 2020
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Avoid these 202 email spam trigger words

Spam filters are designed to remove junk out of your customers’ inboxes, but they’re sometimes so good that they may sweep away your valuable emails, too. You can’t afford to let your emails get flagged as spam, so keep reading.

The easiest way to avoid spam filters is by carefully choosing the words you use in your email’s subject line. Typically, these words can be grouped into these 6 broad categories:

  • Manipulative: creating unnecessary urgency or pressure
  • Needy: sounding desperate or exaggerated claims
  • Sleazy: being too pushy
  • Cheap: no pre-qualifications, everybody wins
  • Far-fetched: statements that are too good to be true
  • Shady: ethically or legally questionable behavior

We’ve compiled a list of 202 spam trigger words you should avoid the next time you sit down to write an email subject line. It’s important to note that while a single incidence of these words may not be enough to trigger the spam filter gods, they should nevertheless be used judiciously.

Manipulative words and phrases

There is nothing wrong with urging your reader to take action, but spam filters often penalize emails with subject lines that create unnecessary urgency and pressure. If everything you send is “urgent,” then nothing is, at least in your recipient’s mind. On the other hand, if there’s enough value in what you have to offer to your readers, urgency will happen organically. In the meantime, avoid using the following spam trigger words:

1. Act now

2. Action

3. Apply now

4. Apply online

5. Buy

6. Buy direct

7. Call

8. Call now

9. Click here

10. Clearance

11. Click here

12. Do it today

13. Don’t delete

14. Drastically reduced

15. Exclusive deal

16. Expire

17. Get

18. Get it now

19. Get started now

20. Important information regarding

21. Instant

22. Limited time

23. New customers only

24. Now only

25. Offer expires

26. Once in a lifetime

27. Order now

28. Please read

29. Special promotion

30. Take action

31. This won’t last

32. Urgent

33. While stocks last

Needy words and phrases

Your email subscribers are looking for immediate value when they see your subject line; they want to know exactly what they’ll get when they click on your email. If you’re truly offering something of value, there’s no need for you to be desperate or make exaggerated claims. Here are some words and phrases that smell like desperation:

34. 100%

35. All-new

36. Bargain

37. Best price

38. Bonus

39. Email marketing

40. Free

41. For instant access

42. Free gift

43. Free trial

44. Have you been turned down?

45. Great offer

46. Join millions of Americans

47. Incredible deal

48. Prize

49. Satisfaction guaranteed

50. Will not believe your eyes

Sleazy words and phrases

Each subject line sends an important signal to your readers. Are you adding value in a friendly and non-intrusive way? Or are you being pushy? Notice how the following words and phrases make you feel a little hesitant. No one likes to be pressured, so avoid using them in your subject lines.

51. As seen on

52. Click here

53. Click below

54. Deal

55. Direct email

56. Direct marketing

57. Do it today

58. Order now

59. Order today

60. Unlimited

61. What are you waiting for?

62. Visit our website

Cheap words and phrases

One thing to keep in mind when offering something is that the more available it is, the lower its perceived value. In other words, people want what they can’t have. So if your subject lines comprise pre-qualification phrases such as “Congratulations!” or have an “everybody wins!” vibe to them, your email is likely to end up in spam. Instead, avoid the following spam filter words and try to position your value proposition in a way that makes the prospect chase you:

63. Acceptance

64. Access

65. Avoid bankruptcy

66. Boss

67. Cancel

68. Card accepted

69. Certified

70. Cheap

71. Compare

72. Compare rates

73. Congratulations

74. Credit card offers

75. Cures

76. Dear [personalization variable]

77. Dear friend

78. Drastically reduced

79. Easy terms

80. Free grant money

81. Free hosting

82. Free info

83. Free membership

84. Friend

85. Get out of debt

86. Giving away

87. Guarantee

88. Guaranteed

89. Have you been turned down?

90. Hello

91. Information you requested

92. Join millions

93. No age restrictions

94. No catch

95. No experience

96. No obligation

97. No purchase necessary

98. No questions asked

99. No strings attached

100. Offer

101. Opportunity

102. Save big

103. Winner

104. Winning

105. Won

106. You are a winner!

107. You’ve been selected!

Far-fetched words and phrases

Phrases such as “while you sleep” are simply too good to be true. Today, readers can spot a lie from miles away so if they feel that your offer is hard to believe, there’s a strong chance that email spam filters will also pick up on it. Generally, you don’t want to oversell so try to limit the use of the following words and phrases that can make your message seem far-fetched:

108. Additional income

109. All-natural

110. Amazing

111. Be your own boss

112. Big bucks

113. Billion

114. Billion dollars

115. Cash

116. Cash bonus

117. Consolidate debt and credit

118. Consolidate your debt

119. Double your income

120. Earn

121. Earn cash

122. Earn extra cash

123. Eliminate bad credit

124. Eliminate debt

125. Extra

126. Fantastic deal

127. Financial freedom

128. Financially independent

129. Free investment

130. Free money

131. Get paid

132. Home

133. Home-based

134. Income

135. Increase sales

136. Increase traffic

137. Lose

138. Lose weight

139. Money back

140. No catch

141. No fees

142. No hidden costs

143. No strings attached

144. Potential earnings

145. Pure profit

146. Removes wrinkles

147. Reverses aging

148. Risk-free

149. Serious cash

150. Stop snoring

151. Vacation

152. Vacation offers

153. Weekend getaway

154. Weight loss

155. While you sleep

156. Work from home

Shady words and phrases

As long as there are gullible people in the world, there will always be shady individuals trying to take advantage of them. Your intentions may be good. Nevertheless, the following words are associated with ethically or legally questionable behavior and may, therefore, trigger the spam filter so use them with caution:

157. Addresses

158. Beneficiary

159. Billing

160. Casino

161. Celebrity

162. Collect child support

163. Copy DVDs

164. Fast viagra delivery

165. Hidden

166. Human growth hormone

167. In accordance with laws

168. Investment

169. Junk

170. Legal

171. Life insurance

172. Loan

173. Lottery

174. Luxury car

175. Medicine

176. Meet singles

177. Message contains

178. Miracle

179. Money

180. Multi-level marketing

181. Nigerian

182. Offshore

183. Online degree

184. Online pharmacy

185. Passwords

186. Refinance

187. Request

188. Rolex

189. Score

190. Social security number

191. Spam

192. This isn’t spam

193. Undisclosed recipient

194. University diplomas

195. Unsecured credit

196. Unsolicited

197. US dollars

198. Valium

199. Viagra

200. Vicodin

201. Warranty

202. Xanax

Trying to navigate spam filters can be frustrating, especially if you’re in an industry that relies heavily on some of the words listed above (for example, banking, finance, and e-commerce). However, all that may be required from you is to think creatively and use your storytelling skills to go beyond feature-oriented terms and focus on the benefits you can provide to your readers.

Don’t get caught by email spam filters again

Like most people, you may not be sending spam on purpose. But if you happen to use one of the 202 words on this list a few too many times, your email is likely to be caught by a spam filter before your subscriber even has a chance to look at it. To keep your deliverability rate high and customers highly engaged, be sure to refer to this list regularly to ensure you’re not engaging in unintentional spammy behavior.

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