The ultimate list of spam trigger words

Spam. We loathe it, we detest receiving spam mails and it’s actually just not fun dealing with it, but hey, we do what we have to do. We often get asked why emails end up in the subscriber’s spam folder but there are some things that people forget to check. One of the most often overlooked elements that can trigger spam filters is the words that you use in your subject line.

PLEASE NOTE: This article serves as a guide and doesn’t mean the words you use on this list WILL definitely trigger spam filters. This list is based on multiple sources and experience within the email marketing industry.

Context is important when it comes to whether your emails will be seen as spam or not. Email Service Providers have become a lot smarter in understanding the context in which words are used. The word “free” might be perfectly fine to use, but when combined with something such as “free bank account” it might trigger a spam filter and prevent you from landing into the inbox.

Let’s look at the definition of spam trigger words as defined by Hubspot:

“Spam trigger words are phrases that email providers flag as fraudulent and malicious. When they identify these emails, they then route them away from recipients’ inboxes.”

What are spam filters?

A spam filter is a computer filter program that prevents messages from getting to a user’s inbox if it detects that the email is unsolicited or unwanted. Spam filters use a set criteria to make judgements about whether an email message is spam or not. The earliest versions of spam filters used only the subject lines of messages to exclude spam messages from a user’s inbox.

Since then these filters have become sophisticated programs that use more advanced filtering techniques to identify spam.

Things that are sure to get your email sent to spam:

  • Not including an unsubscribe link in your email (don’t stress about this if you use our service, you can’t send out campaigns on our platform without an unsubscribe link.
  • Buying email lists and sending to these lists - your bounce rates will be through the roof!
  • Using ALL CAPS LIKE THIS all over your email and using a lot of unnecessary punctuation like ???? !!!!!
  • Including strangely formatted fonts (think curly fonts or fonts that aren’t very legible)
  • Shortened links or links to fraudulent websites can definitely impact whether you land in the spam folder or not

The 7 main spam trigger word categories:

There are 7 categories that words can be grouped into when it comes to triggering spam filters.

Saying it isn’t spam

When you’re writing your subject line, you should stay away from words that specifically try to tell a subscriber that the email is not spam.

  • This isn’t junk
  • This isn’t spam
  • Not spam
  • Spam free
  • Mark this as not junk

Manipulative, fear-mongering or urgent

Manipulative, fear-mongering emails that focus on urgency can definitely land you in the spam folder, but can also leave a bad taste in your subscriber’s mouth.

  • Urgent
  • Act now
  • Immediately
  • Order now
  • Limited offer
  • Expires today
  • Apply now
  • Buy today
  • Call now
  • Exclusive deal
  • Final call

A better way to create urgency is to provide a solution to a problem, rather than to focus on the problem.

Cheap and nasty

Often when you’re offering something that is readily available the value of it is perceived to be lower. This is because people by nature want what they can’t have. Subject lines that follow a cheap and nasty tone often contain pre-qualification phrases that make it seem like everyone is winning, instead of making people feel special.

  • Acceptance
  • Access
  • Avoid bankruptcy
  • Boss
  • Cancel
  • Card accepted
  • Certified
  • Cheap
  • Compare rates
  • Congratulations
  • Credit card offers
  • Cures
  • Drastically reduced
  • Easy terms
  • Free grant money
  • Free hosting
  • Free info
  • Free membership
  • Friend
  • Get out of debt
  • Giving away
  • Guarantee
  • Guaranteed
  • Have you been turned down?
  • Hello
  • Information you requested

Outlandish claims

If it sounds too good to be true, that’s because it probably is. People are a lot more savvy than you think and will struggle to trust your business or open your emails if your subject line includes words that make your offers hard to believe. Don’t oversell what you’re offering, rather let your product or service do that for you.

  • Once in a lifetime
  • While you sleep
  • Money-making
  • Earn extra income
  • Reverses aging
  • Money-back guarantee
  • No hidden costs
  • Free money
  • Lose weight fast
  • Earn extra cash
  • All-natural

Questionable claims (ethically or legally dodgy)

Just like any other marketing channel you use, just because you have more control over your email marketing doesn’t mean you should use phrases that are ethically or legally dodgy.

  • Additional income
  • All-natural
  • Be your own boss
  • Big bucks
  • Billion
  • Billion dollars
  • Cash
  • Cash bonus
  • Consolidate debt and credit
  • Consolidate your debt
  • Double your income
  • Earn
  • Earn cash
  • Eliminate bad credit
  • Eliminate debt
  • Extra
  • Free investment
  • Free money
  • Get paid
  • Lose weight
  • Money back
  • No catch
  • No fees
  • No hidden costs
  • No strings attached
  • Potential earnings
  • Pure profit
  • Removes wrinkles
  • Reverses aging
  • Risk-free
  • Serious cash
  • Stop snoring
  • Weight loss
  • While you sleep
  • Work from home

Pushy subject lines

No one likes to feel like they are being bossed around, so make sure your subject lines don’t come across as too pushy or overly instructive. You want to ensure people want to open your email but not to a level where you are being excessively forceful.

  • Do it today
  • Order now
  • Order today
  • Unlimited
  • What are you waiting for?
  • Visit our website

Needy subject lines

Do not beg people to open your emails. People want value when they are receiving emails from you. You don’t want your subscribers to feel sorry for you or for your brand to seem desperate.

  • Please open
  • Please read
  • Click here
  • Can you help us?
  • Can we have a minute of your time?
  • Instant weight loss
  • Save big
  • 100%
  • All-new
  • Bargain
  • Best price
  • Bonus
  • Free
  • For instant access
  • Free gift
  • Free trial
  • Have you been turned down?
  • Great offer
  • Incredible deal
  • Prize
  • Satisfaction guaranteed
  • Will not believe your eyes

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