Spam Trigger Words and Text to Avoid Today and Beyond

spam trigger words

Trigger words can be good or bad, inciting either a positive or negative emotion. Reps need to be aware of both types and use them with intention when communicating, especially when writing emails. And as Rachel Cagle wrote in a recent post, the subject line is vital.

Now, it’s time to go over words that reps should avoid, especially when sending out emails. First, you don’t want to make a poor impression and using spammy wording does just that. “Often the first impression a buyer forms about you is from your email,” says SalesFuel CEO C. Lee Smith. “Being spammy, or using trickery to get them to open it, is the fastest way to lose credibility.”

Additionally, using specific spam trigger words can cause your emails to get caught in spam filters, and likely, the recipient will never even see your message.

Spam trigger words: What are they? 

Specifically, as Karen Rubin writes for HubSpot, spam trigger words are defined as follows:

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. These words and phrases typically overpromise a positive outcome with the goal of getting sensitive information from the recipient.”

Per Rubin’s definition, these words, especially when used in subject lines, will keep your emails out of inboxes. Certain other types of text will also boost the chances of your emails being filtered as spam. But this doesn’t mean that you must omit all sales-​related terminology from your communications; you just have to be thoughtful about using it.

To help reps craft an email that goes straight to the inbox, Rubin shares some insight and suggestions for getting around those filters.

Words to avoid 

In general, spam trigger words tend to have a few similarities. Rubin advises reps to avoid using words in an email subject lines that

  • Over-​sensationalize
  • Over-​promise
  • Use strange formatting to “stand out” in the recipient’s inbox

To help reps really narrow down the words to avoid, Rubin gets specific and put together an impressive list of spam trigger words (394 to be exact!). She also organizes them by category, from words that impart a sense of urgency to adjectives and marketing phrases.

While we don’t share all of them here, below is a list of some common words and phrases that reps might be using:

  • Affordable
  • Best price
  • Compare rates
  • Save up to
  • Why pay more?
  • Click here
  • Increase your sales
  • Sales/​Sale
  • This isn’t spam
  • 100% satisfied
  • Guarantee
  • No obligation
  • Sign up free today
  • Free consultation
  • Free quote
  • Risk free
  • Satisfaction guaranteed
  • Get started
  • Great offer
  • Limited time
  • Information you requested
  • Special promotion

As you can see, some of these spam trigger words are words commonly used in subject lines. This means that there’s a big chance a lot of emails aren’t reaching recipients. But that doesn’t mean you have to strike these words from all your emails.

The key to getting your message across is to be thoughtful about how you use them. “So long as you use email marketing best practices and use spam trigger words within context, you can bypass spam filters,” Rubin writes. "Using one or two phrases won’t hurt you, but make sure to only email customers who want to hear from you and to always personalize your emails.”

More spam triggers

In addition to spam trigger words, Rubin also highlights a few other ways that reps can unwittingly doom their emails to the spam folder. “Email providers look for a number of factors when deciding whether to automatically send your emails to spam,” she explains. For example, capitalizing all the words of a subject line or including multiple punctuation marks (like !!!!) are triggering. Also, not using the recipient’s name or having broken code can affect where your email lands.

Be thoughtful to avoid being labeled "spam"

According to a past SalesFuel blog post, “33% of email recipients open an email based on the subject line alone.” If you fill your subject lines with spam trigger words or another triggering type, that’s not only going to damage your credibility, but also risk them heading to the spam folder. Instead, follow Rubin’s tips to optimize those outreaches and make a great first impression.

For more insights into how to boost your credibility, check out Smith's book, SalesCred, which is now available!

Photo by Hello Lightbulb

Jessica Helinski

Jessica Helinski

Jessica is a senior research analyst for SalesFuel focusing on selling to SMB decision-​makers. She also reports on sales and presentation tips for SalesFuel Today. Jessica is a graduate of Ohio University.