If you are reading this, you’re most likely familiar with email marketing and you understand that, like everything in this world, it is changing too (let’s not talk about GDPR this time). Naturally, all these changes have an impact on marketers and marketing itself. For example, email marketers are becoming increasingly aware of the complexities of good deliverability. In other words, not being flagged as junk mail and sent to the spam folder. Spam filters are evolving too: many factors can get your emails marked as spam. For example, many of us are aware that using spam words might boost the spam score.

Despite the fact that the potential influence of spam words is debatable in the whole deliverability spectrum, I am quite a traditionalist and believe that it’s best to stay safe than sorry. Many aspects can affect your deliverability – and yes, the truth is, that spam words make up just a small part of that complex filtering. Thus, using a word or a phrase traditionally considered as spam, might not straight away direct your emails to junk: if your content is good, your mailing lists are well maintained, your HTML is clean, you probably have nothing to worry about. However, if you want to be cautious, this is the spam words list that I refer to when I’m drafting emails.


List of spam words by codemefy


Also, if you want to learn more about spam, check out these articles:

Why These Spam Words?

Some of you might not know how content can affect your deliverability. The length, the structure and, of course, the words themselves. Unfortunately, there is no one single magical list of spam triggers – there are different spam filters and they are updated all the time. All that is, of course, necessary to fight actual spammers and scammers. I reviewed test logs from Spam Assassin (open source spam filter), checked IBM knowledge centre, read many other articles about spam words, analysed my own junk mail to categorise some of these spam trigger words available to find.

Spam Assasin has loads of criteria when testing if a message is spam – and it’s really worth having a look at them all (font sizes, colours, HTML, etc.). But, as we’re analysing words, I’ll highlight a few with their (local) points. For example, this innocent word “dear” is used so often in salutations: Dear Firstname, Dear friend, Dear client…  According to Spam Assassin, having Dear in the body copy will give you 1.605 points. Also, if your subject line starts with hello, you will get 1.84 points. There are other factors that will increase your spam score – leaving the “from name”  empty, not having a reply-to address, and even having many extra spaces in your subject line. Here’s a link to their logs – really interesting stuff!


Spam words to avoid



Ah yes. If you have ever worked with me, you’d know that one of the most often highlighted spam phrases (by me) is actually a call-to-action. I always say – don’t use “click here”. Click is not a right word for emails. However, there are quite a few other words you should be aware of, so please have a look.


    Contains one or more from the following:

    act now“; “apply now“; “buy now“; “click below“; “click here“; “click me to download“; “click this link“; “click to remove“; “call free“; “call now“; “claim now“; “contact us immediately“; “get now“; “sign up free“; “shop now“; “order now“; “get paid

Money and Finance

I think most of us associate spam words with medicine (we won’t talk about those here, as you probably can guess which words would be in the list) and finance. Many scammers out there send emails about various amounts of money to be claimed by you or me and so on. However, I’ve picked a few words that you maybe be using in your emails:


    Contains one or more from the following:

    $$$“; “£££“; “accounts“; “additional income“; “bank“; “bonus“; “cash“; “cost“; “credit“; “earn“; “earn $“; “earn money“; “earn per week“; “finance”; “financial advice“; “financial freedom”; “free investment”; “get your money”; “insurance“; “investment”; “investment advice”; “investment decision”; “invoice”, “lowest price”, “make £“, “make money“; “million“; “money“; “money back“; “nominated bank account“; “potential earnings“; “profit“; “refund“; “risk free“; “save“; “save $“; “stock alert“; “thousands“; “US Dollars


There are many words associated with marketing that could be considered spam words. Unfortunately, many popular terms, such as email marketing, search engine optimisation, even subscribe and unsubscribe are in the list. Well, have a look and let me know how that makes you feel:


    Contains one or more from the following:

    ad“; “amazing“; “bargain“; “beneficial offer“; “cheap“; “clearance“; “congratulations“; “”dear“; “direct marketing“; “don’t delete“; “email marketing“; “fantastic“; “free“; “free trial” (+ many other phrases containing free, so please avoid); “gift certificate“; “increase sales“; “increase traffic“; “internet marketing“; “junk“; “marketing“; “marketing solution“; “member“; “message from“; “month trial offer“; “off everything“; “offer“; “offer expires“; “offer extended“; “online marketing“; “opportunity“; “opt in“; “performance“; “promise you“; “sale“; “search engine optimisation“; “spam“; “special promotion”; “stop further distribution“; “subscribe“; “super promo“; “the following form“; “this isn’t junk“; “this isn’t spam“; “top urgent“; “unbeatable offer“; “unsubscribe“; “urgent“; “urgent response“; “visit our website“; “web traffic“; “win“; “winner

Online Business

Many entrepreneurs and bloggers write about working remotely, setting up an online business,  and working from home. Shame that many spammers are using similar topics to scam people, thus, watch out for these words that could trigger spam filters.


    Contains one or more from the following:

    additional income“; “be your own boss“; “extra income“; “free hosting“; “get paid“; “home based business“; “home employment“; “income from home“; “profit“; “sale“; “work at home“; “work from home“; “while you sleep

Other Junk Mail Triggers

Naturally, many other words can trigger spam filters. I will add some of them here – a good source for more information is IBM knowledge centre:


    The From field is left empty or contains one or more from the following:

    @public” “@savvy” “hello@” “mail@” “profits@” “sales@” “success.” “success@


    Contains one or more from the following:

    ,000” + “!!” + “$” (combination);  “mlm“; “$$$“;  “@mlm“; “100% satisfied“; “cards accepted“; “check or money order“; “extra income“; “for free?“; “for free!“; “Guarantee” + (“satisfaction” or “absolute“) (combination); “money back“; “money-back guarantee“; “more info” + “visit ” + “$” (combination); “onetime mail“; “order now!“; “order today”; “removal instructions“; “SPECIAL PROMOTION


    Contains one or more from the following:

    advertisement“; “!” + “free” (combination); “!” + “$” (combination); “$$

Associated with Adult Content

There are businesses and writers out there that are writing content for the adult audience. Admittedly, it is difficult for those genuine marketers to get through to their subscribers’ inboxes as so much spam is associated with this niche. IBM knowledge centre suggests avoiding these trigger words.


    Contains one or more of the following: “18+“; “adult en“;   “adults“; “be 18“; “free” + “adult” (combination of words); “over 18“; “over 21“; “xxx


    Contains one or more of the following: “18+” “adult en” “must be 18” “must be 21” “over 18” “over 21” “xxx” “xxx!


Final Words: Always Think about the Bigger Picture

Remember that having one of these words in an email doesn’t mean that your newsletter will land in the junk mail. Of course, no guarantees that it won’t, but use your common sense, and try to limit potential triggers. Moreover, words and content, the cleanliness of HTML, the weight of the email – all that matters too. Good luck and don’t forget to subscribe to my emails!


Other great articles to read, with more about spam words:

IBM Knowledge Centre

Hubspot: The Ultimate List of Email Spam Trigger Words

Comm100: Spam words


Author: Adele Baltuoniene, June 2018