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Trigger Words to Get You In-or Knock You out of-the Inbox

Mar 20, 2014   |   2 min read

Knowledge Center  ❯   Blog

spam triggers email marketingThe number one priority for any email marketer is quite simple: Ensure the emails you send actually make it to the inbox. This means avoiding practices, like poor data hygiene, that get your email flagged as spam and embracing practices that get your email opened, such as maintaining a stellar sender reputation.

The easiest way to get your emails into (or out of) the inbox is your subject line. Words associated with spammers will knock your email out of the inbox faster than you can say “Discounted Canadian Viagra.” But does it work the other way? Are there “power” words you can use in subject lines to get more of your emails opened and clicked?

Check out these spam triggers to avoid and power words to include in your next email campaign.

Spam Triggers: Avoid these Words!

We weighed in with experts from HubSpot, CallidusCloud, Benchmark and SpamAssassin to identify the top words and phrases that filters like Spam Assassin, Postini, IronPort, Barracuda and even Outlook watch out for. Use these words, and you run the very real risk of getting your email blocked and your sender reputation tarnished:

!!! Join millions
$$$ Lose weight
100% free lowest price
Act now! Make money fast
All natural Buy
As seen on Save up to
Attention Free shipping
Bad credit Free gift
Bargain Huge deals
Best price Store credit
Cost For only
No cost Dear
Dear friend Hello
Fast cash Your bills
Guarantee Your family
Hot See for yourself

Interestingly, it’s not just the word choice that spam filters watch. They also look for common spam tricks like using symbols instead of words, writing in all caps and using words with weird spaces or extra punctuation. That means spam filters are smart enough to know that F.R.E.E. still means “FREE,” so don’t try to game the system!

Power Words: Use These Instead!

The folks at MailChimp and Adestra analyzed a combined 24 billion emails to determine if certain words can increase your chances of landing in the inbox. Pulling the best of their research, here are some of the top words that generate the strongest open and click-through rates:

Alert Helpful
Bulletin Daily
News Weekly
Breaking Sale
Urgent New
Important Video
Update Free delivery
Announcement ROI
Invitation Download
Invited Registration
Reminder Badge
Review Thank you

Furthermore, multiple studies found that when it comes to personalization, using a first and last name combined is more powerful than using only the first or last name. In fact, it drives nearly a third more opens.

We’ll admit, we’re a little confused by the strength of “free delivery.” This might seem like a natural spam trigger phrase. Yet (assuming the email makes it into the inbox) using “free delivery” in the subject line has been shown to improve open rates by 35 percent above average and click-through rates by 81 percent above average.

The real lesson here is that testing is important. Test these words against your own list to see what works for your specific audience. After all, getting past spam filters—and getting your emails opened and clicked—is tough. But, with the right insights and the right habits, you’ll definitely increase your chances of making it into that inbox.

Interested in learning more about improving your email delivery? Download the eBook “Email Deliverability: 21 Steps to Success” today!


Photo Credit: Kris Krug

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