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Ultimate Email Spam Avoidance Guide: Tips & Practices

Yaro Y.
Updated On
November 30, 2023

Understanding Email Spam and Spam Trigger Words

Alright, let's chat about email spam—yeah, that annoying stuff that clogs up your inbox faster than a sink full of potato peels. You know, those random emails you never asked for, pushing weird products or sketchy deals? They're the digital equivalent of that person who keeps crashing parties uninvited.

Now, because no one likes a crammed inbox, the email providers  - think Gmail, Outlook, you name it - have rolled out some serious spam-fighting tech. It's like they've got this digital sniffer dog, right? And it's trained to sniff out spam based on certain "trigger words." These words are like the secret handshake spammers use, which they unfortunately didn't keep much of a secret.

What are spam trigger words?

Okay, picture spam trigger words as those suspicious keywords that make email providers' alarm bells go off. They're like the shady characters in a movie that you just know are up to no good. When these words gang up together in an email, providers are like, "Aha! Caught you!" and they might slap a big ol' SPAM label on them, making sure they don’t even get a foot in the door of your inbox.

Why do they do this, you ask? For our digital safety, folks! These trigger words are often found in some not-so-nice emails, maybe trying to scam us or spread something malicious. Email providers are basically those cool bodyguards who won’t let the troublemakers into the club. By keeping an eye out for these sketchy words, they're making sure we get to enjoy a spam-free (or at least, spam-less) email experience. It’s their way of keeping the online neighborhood a bit safer for everyone chilling in it. So, next time an email with too-good-to-be-true offers lands straight in spam, you know those trigger words might have had a role to play!

Factors that contribute to emails being marked as spam

So, spam trigger words aren't the only bad boys in town when it comes to what gets an email benched. Email providers are like detectives; they've got a whole checklist they go through before deciding if an email is cool enough to party in your inbox.

First up, the mysterious case of the missing unsubscribe button. Not giving folks a clear "thanks, but no thanks" option is super sketchy. It’s like hosting a party but blocking the exit. Creepy, right? Email providers love a good, clear unsubscribe button. It shows you're all about respecting boundaries and giving people space when they need it.

Now, let's talk email fashion—aka design. A shabby, broken email design is like showing up to a job interview in a clown costume. Not a good look. It screams "scam alert!" and can trip those high-tech spam filters faster than you can say "phishing scam." So, polishing up your emails to look sleek, professional, and glitch-free is Email Etiquette 101.

Oh, and here's a big one: ghost subscribers. They're the folks who never open your emails. It's like sending out party invites to folks who never show up. Too many of these, and email providers start thinking you're not that popular, affecting where your emails end up. Pro tip: Keep your guest list fresh and full of people who actually wanna party with your emails.

Long story short, dodging the spam folder is an art. It's about knowing what makes email providers tick and playing by the rules. And hey, we're just getting started! Coming up, we'll dive deeper into the nitty-gritty of email design mistakes, managing your subscriber list like a pro, and crafting content that's both fab and spam-filter-friendly. Stay tuned for the inside scoop on keeping your emails in the limelight, not the spam can! 🌟

Common Mistakes That Lead to Emails Being Marked as Spam

Alright, gather 'round, folks! If you're stepping into the email marketing arena, you've gotta dodge a few pitfalls to make sure your shiny emails actually cozy up in recipients' inboxes and not get tossed into the dreaded spam dungeon. Let's break down some classic blunders, shall we?

Mistakes related to email design and coding

Okay, let's talk about email design and coding. Imagine your email is a digital handshake - it's gotta be firm, confident, and, most importantly, not creepy. Messy designs and coding errors are like sweaty palms; they make spam filters nervous and scream "Danger, Will Robinson!"

Here's the scoop: email providers are like digital Sherlock Holmes. They're always on the lookout for anything shady, and a poorly-coded email is like a neon sign flashing "Nothing to see here!" (but in a way that ensures everyone looks). So, it's super important to have emails that are more like a crisp tuxedo: sharp, appealing, and with every button in place.

And don't even think about weird fonts or links to sites that are up to no good. Odd fonts are the digital equivalent of wearing clown shoes to a business meeting - they just don't fit! Plus, including links to dodgy websites? That's like inviting email providers to send your messages straight to spam jail without passing "Go."

So, how do you keep your emails looking sharp and trustworthy?

  1. Smart Templates are Your Best Friend: Go for those sleek, professional email templates that know how to behave on any screen size. They're like the little black dress of email marketing - they never go out of style!
  2. Test, Test, and Test Again: Send those emails to yourself first. Check them on different devices, different email clients. Make sure they look good everywhere, like a Hollywood star on the red carpet.
  3. Keep Fonts Classic: Choose fonts that are like the cool kid in school—popular and easy to like. Weird fonts can make email clients trip, turning your message into a garbled mess.
  4. Links on the Straight and Narrow: Double-check those URLs! Your links should be like a good alibi, completely trustworthy. Keep an eye on them to ensure they're always on the up-and-up.

Remember, your emails aren't just messages; they're your brand's ambassadors!

Mistakes related to email list management

Picture this: you stumble upon a "treasure trove" of email addresses for sale online. Jackpot, right? Wrong! Buying email lists and throwing messages at folks who didn’t even sign up for them is like walking into a party uninvited and then wondering why you got the boot. Email providers are no fools—they’ve got their eyes peeled for these shenanigans, and they won't hesitate to tag you as 'it' in the spam tagging game.

And here’s another curveball: sending emails to a bunch of ghost addresses (y'know, the ones that don't actually exist or haven't seen the light of day since dial-up was a thing). Doing this is like shouting into a void and expecting an echo. It messes with your rep and makes email providers think you're not cool enough for the inbox club.

But wait, there’s more! If your subscriber list is more crowded than a pre-pandemic concert and nobody’s jamming to your emails (read: opening them), that’s a massive cry for help. Email providers are like club bouncers; they dig vibes and engagement. No engagement? No entry!

So, how do you swerve around these mishaps?

  1. Grow Your Tribe the Right Way: Skip the shortcuts. Build your following with folks who actually dig your style and want to hear from you. Opt-ins and legit subscriptions are the golden tickets here.
  2. Double-Down with Double Opt-ins: This is like a secret handshake for your club. People gotta prove they’re not robots or pranksters by confirming their email. It keeps your list tighter than a drum!
  3. Spring Cleaning Isn’t Just for Homes: Dust off that subscriber list regularly. Say goodbye to subscribers who are just not that into you. It might sting, but your open rates and overall vibe will thank you.

In a nutshell, managing your email list isn't a "set it and forget it" gig. It’s about keeping the party lively and the guests happy, all while staying in the good graces of those ever-watchful email providers

Mistakes related to email content

So, we're crafting an email. We want fireworks, a grand entrance, something that says, "Hey, look at me!" But here's the catch: go too big, and you're not the star of the show; you're the court jester. Using all-caps, going crazy with the !!!, or stuffing your email with so-called "power words" can backfire. Big time. It's like waving a red flag in front of the spam bull. Sure, you've got its attention, but, oh boy, you're not going to like what happens next.

And you know what else grinds gears? No personal touch. Starting your emails with a cold "Dear User" is like walking into a friend's birthday party and forgetting their name. Awkward! A little name-drop can go a long way in making your emails feel like a cozy chat over coffee rather than a megaphone announcement.

Now, for the golden rules to keep your emails cool and collected:

  1. Caps Lock – Not Even Once: Remember, there’s a big difference between emphasizing and screaming. ALL CAPS feels like you’re yelling, and nobody likes being yelled at, not even in the virtual world.
  2. Punctuation with Purpose: Picture punctuation like salt; a little can bring out the flavor, but too much, and it's all you can taste. So, keep the !!! and ??? on a tight leash.
  3. The Art of the Trigger Word: Some words are like email kryptonite. They're not bad in themselves, but use them wrong, and BAM – you're in spam. If you must use them, make sure they're snug within legit, clear context.
  4. Make It Personal, Keep It Real: Slip in your recipients’ names like you’re old friends. It adds that “you’re special” vibe and keeps the connection real.

So there you go! Dodging these email content no-nos isn’t rocket science. It’s just about keeping things chill, genuine, and respectful.

Best Practices for Avoiding Email Spam

Fret not! It’s time to roll up our sleeves and dive into the nitty-gritty of keeping our emails shiny, loved, and, most importantly, opened!  

By maintaining good email hygiene, using responsible email marketing practices, optimizing email content and structure, and focusing on high email deliverability, you can significantly improve the chances of your emails being delivered successfully.

Maintaining good email hygiene

Imagine your email list is like your fridge. What happens when you leave things untouched in there for too long? They go bad, start to smell, and before you know it, you're in a nose-pinching, trash-bag-filling afternoon. The same goes for your email list!

Inactive subscribers are like that mystery Tupperware at the back of the shelf. They're just sitting there, messing up your vibe, and dragging your party (read: open rates) down. So every once in a while, you’ve gotta roll up your sleeves and clean out those who aren't munching on your content. It’s kind of a Marie Kondo approach— if they don’t spark joy (or clicks), thank them for their time and say goodbye. This way, you’re chatting with the folks who want to be in the convo!

Now, switching gears, let's talk rules - specifically, the CAN-SPAM Act. Think of it as the recipe you need to follow to keep your email soufflé from falling flat. It’s not just about what you’re cooking up; it’s about being honest about who’s in the kitchen with you. That means giving the real info about your business, including an actual, can-reach-out-and-touch physical address.

And you know when someone says, “No more” to your emails? You’ve gotta respect that, pronto. It’s like when someone says they’re full; you don’t keep spooning them dessert. Make sure unsubscribing is as easy as pie, and honor those requests ASAP.

This isn’t just good manners; it’s the law. And bonus, it makes you look good, too—like a chef who respects their diners' tastes and choices.

Using responsible email marketing practices

Imagine you're hosting a party. Now, would you rather have guests who RSVP’d “yes” with excitement, or folks who got dragged there and keep checking their watches? That's the difference between a list of willing subscribers and a bought or rented list of emails.

Buying lists is like throwing darts blindfolded—you're not going to hit the bullseye, and you might just put someone’s eye out (metaphorically speaking)! Plus, it’s the quickest way to become the neighborhood nuisance. No one likes unsolicited mail—it's the digital equivalent of junk mail stuffed in your mailbox. Not cool, right?

So, how do you get people to willingly show up to your party? Simple! Be that host with the most. Offer up tantalizing tidbits, a.k.a. valuable content or incentives, that make people go, “Hey, I want in on that!” That's how you grow your list with folks who'll actually engage because they want to be there.

Now, let's talk about the double opt-in, the bouncer of your email nightclub. It's not there to just look intimidating; it's there to make sure everyone who comes in has an invite and REALLY wants to party. When subscribers say they want in, the double opt-in sends a VIP pass to their inbox to confirm. This little “Are you sure?” moment keeps out party crashers and makes sure your guests are the real deal.

Optimizing email content and structure

Your email is a mini-movie trailer. Its job? To snag attention and leave 'em wanting more. But here's the catch: your trailer isn't blasting on a big screen—it's sandwiched between heaps of others in an inbox, and each one is vying for the spotlight. So, how do you make sure yours is the one they can't resist clicking?

First up, your subject line: think of it as the title of your movie. It's gotta be catchy, but hold the clickbait, please. No one likes being lured in under false pretenses—over-the-top or weirdly formatted titles might get you noticed, but for all the wrong reasons. Stay honest, stay clear, and you'll earn those precious clicks without landing in the spam bin.

Now, once they're in, that's when you deliver the goods. This is where segmentation and dynamic content come into play, like your behind-the-scenes crew making sure every scene is just right. You wouldn’t show the same trailer to every audience, right? Same principle here.

Segment your list like a pro—think demographics, interests, or how they've interacted with you before. This way, you’re not blasting everyone with the same message; you’re crafting a VIP experience for each group.

And dynamic content? That’s your special effects team. They’re the ones swapping out parts of your email based on what you know about each subscriber. It's like they each get a personalized director's cut, and who doesn't love feeling special?

Remember, every email is a performance. Make your subject lines sing, your content resonate, and above all, keep it real.

Maintaining high email deliverability

To maintain high email deliverability rates, it's important to keep your email text free of odd formatting and extraneous punctuation. Unusual formatting or excessive use of symbols can trigger spam filters and cause your emails to be marked as spam. Stick to clean and professional formatting that is easy to read across different devices and email clients.

When including links in your emails, ensure that they lead to reputable websites. Linking out to known spammy or fraudulent sites can raise suspicions and result in your emails being flagged as spam. Regularly check the URLs you include in your campaigns to verify their legitimacy.

By following these best practices for avoiding email spam, you can significantly improve the chances of your emails reaching recipients' inboxes instead of being marked as spam. In the next section, we will delve into optimizing email content specifically to avoid triggering spam filters.

Optimizing Email Content to Avoid Spam Filters

We're about to embark on a quest to conquer the Everest of email marketing—dodging those pesky spam filters. Yes, they're the guardians of the inbox, keeping watch for anything that smells spammy. But worry not! With a sprinkle of savvy and a dash of know-how, we'll make sure your emails are more like welcome guests and less like uninvited nuisances.

Understanding spam trigger words in context

The digital world we inhabit is replete with communication landmines known as spam trigger words. These are the terms that, when used recklessly, can catapult your meticulously crafted email straight into the abyss of a spam folder. However, these words aren't cursed; their impact hinges on the context of their use.

Imagine spam trigger words as spices in a dish. Used judiciously, they enhance the flavor; overused, they spoil the broth. Words like "free" or "discount" aren't taboo — they're time-honored incentives. But their misuse or overuse can set off alarm bells, not just for eagle-eyed spam filters but for your readers too. The key lies in moderation and relevance. Are you offering a bona fide promotion? Great, "free" is your friend. But sprinkle it throughout your email without substantial backing, and it reeks of spam.

Now, let's flip the script to personalization. This isn't just about dropping a recipient's name at the start of an email. It's about crafting content that echoes their preferences, their history with your brand, their unique needs. When you personalize, you're not just sending an email; you're extending a digital handshake, fostering a connection that feels less like a shout into the void and more like a tailored dialogue. The result? Your emails are received as valued correspondence, not as junk cluttering the inbox.

Finally, don't underestimate the power of A/B testing as your secret weapon in this endeavor. This isn't just about dodging spam filters; it's about resonating with your audience. By testing different iterations of your content — from subject lines to calls-to-action — on smaller audience segments, you're not just guessing; you're using concrete data to gauge what truly engages your subscribers. And with each test, you're not just improving; you're learning and evolving, ensuring your emails aren't just delivered but cherished.

Tips for writing effective subject lines

Navigating the terrain of email marketing involves being mindful of certain trigger words that, when used without context or excessively, could land your message in the spam folder. Here's a categorized list of words that might set off spam filters:

1. Financial Terms:

  • "Affordable"
  • "Cash bonus"
  • "Earn extra cash"
  • "Eliminate debt"
  • "Free investment"
  • "Increase sales"
  • "Lowest price"
  • "Make money"
  • "Save big money"
  • "Serious cash"

2. Urgency/Scarcity:

  • "Act now!"
  • "Apply now"
  • "Don't delete"
  • "Expires"
  • "Hurry up"
  • "Instant"
  • "Limited time"
  • "Urgent"
  • "While supplies last"
  • "Will not believe your eyes"

3. Promotional:

  • "Congratulations"
  • "Dear friend"
  • "Free"
  • "Giveaway"
  • "Not spam"
  • "Prize"
  • "Risk-free"
  • "Special promotion"
  • "Winner"
  • "You’re a winner!"

4. Personal:

  • "Are you in need?"
  • "Confidentially on all orders"
  • "Direct email"
  • "Have you been turned down?"
  • "Meet singles"
  • "Private"
  • "See for yourself"
  • "Stop"
  • "You have been chosen"

5. Medical/Health:

  • "Lose weight"
  • "No medical exams"
  • "No more worries"
  • "No pain"
  • "Stop snoring"
  • "Weight loss"
  • "Miracle cure"
  • "Risk-free"
  • "Satisfaction guaranteed"
  • "Vitamins"

6. Call to Action:

  • "Click below"
  • "Click here"
  • "Click to remove"
  • "Order now"
  • "Order today"
  • "Order status"
  • "Subscribe"
  • "Get started"
  • "Unsubscribe"
  • "Visit our website"

While it's important to be aware of these trigger words, remember that their use within a logical, clear, and relevant context is typically safe. However, excessive use of these words, especially in the subject line or without proper context in the body of your email, could be a red flag for spam filters.

List of Email Spam Words to Avoid

To further refine your email content and avoid triggering spam filters, it's important to be aware of common email spam words. These words are often associated with deceptive or aggressive marketing practices and can raise suspicions among recipients and spam filters alike. Let's explore different categories of spam words and provide examples for each category.

Categories of spam words

  1. Ecommerce-related spam words: These words are often used in promotional emails but can trigger spam filters if used excessively or misleadingly. Examples include "discount," "sale," "buy now," or "exclusive offer."
  2. Urgency-related spam words: Words that create a sense of urgency can be effective in driving action, but they should be used judiciously. Examples include "limited time," "act now," "don't miss out," or "urgent."
  3. Financial-related spam words: Words related to financial opportunities or offers may raise red flags due to their association with scams or fraudulent activities. Examples include "get rich quick," "investment opportunity," "guaranteed returns," or "cash prize."
  4. Legal-related spam words: Certain legal terms can trigger spam filters due to their association with dubious claims or scams. Examples include "lawsuit," "inheritance," "legal loophole," or "secret settlement."
  5. Shady or unethical behavior-related spam words: Words that imply questionable practices can lead to emails being flagged as spam. Examples include "unethical," "shady tactics," "questionable methods," or any language that suggests dishonesty.
  6. Marketing-related spam words: While marketing is an essential aspect of email campaigns, certain phrases may raise suspicions and trigger filters if used excessively or misleadingly. Examples include "$$$" (excessive use of dollar signs), "amazing results guaranteed," "miracle solution," or anything that sounds too good to be true.

Examples of common spam words

Here are some examples of common spam words that you should be cautious about using in your email content:

  • $$$
  • Affordable
  • Bargain
  • Dormant
  • Limited time
  • Get started now

Remember, the presence of these words alone does not guarantee that your emails will be marked as spam. Context matters, and responsible usage within relevant and engaging content is key. However, it's important to be mindful of these words and use them sparingly, if at all.

When crafting your email content, focus on providing value, being transparent, and building trust with your subscribers. By avoiding excessive use of spam words and maintaining a genuine and authentic approach, you can increase the chances of your emails reaching recipients' inboxes instead of being flagged as spam.

In the final section, we will summarize the key points discussed throughout this guide and provide some closing thoughts on avoiding email spam.


In this comprehensive guide, we have explored the world of email spam and provided valuable insights into avoiding common pitfalls that can lead to your emails being marked as spam. Let's summarize the key points discussed throughout this guide.

Summary of key points

  1. The Mystery of Spam Trigger Words:
  2. So, here's the deal: words have power, but they aren't magical spells that turn your emails into spam. Sure, "spammy" words raise eyebrows, but email providers are like detectives — they look for clues beyond words, like how people interact with your emails, your sending reputation, and the overall vibe of your content.
  3. Email Blunders to Sidestep:
  4. Picture this: an email that looks like it's been through a digital tornado, a subscriber list you bought (tsk, tsk), or messages screaming in all caps. These are fast-track tickets to Spamville! And impersonal emails? They're like cold fish handshakes — no one's a fan.
  5. The Art of Clean Emailing:
  6. Think of your email list as a garden. Sometimes, you've gotta prune the dead leaves — that means saying goodbye to folks who aren't digging your content. Play by the rules (CAN-SPAM Act isn't there just for show!), and treat your subscribers' inboxes with respect — like knocking before you enter.
  7. Also, let's be real. No one likes gatecrashers. So, get an invite! That's where double opt-ins come into play. They're like the secret handshakes of the email world, confirming that yes, you're part of the club.
  8. The Magic of Tidy Emails:
  9. Crafting emails is an art form. You want subject lines that tickle curiosity, not ones that scream "LOOK AT ME!" in a neon blaze. Make your emails cozy and personalized; imagine you're chatting with a friend over coffee. And for goodness' sake, keep things neat and tidy — spam filters are allergic to mess and sketchy links.

So, there you have it! Navigating the email world is like hosting a potluck. Bring something tasty to the table, be a gracious host, and know who you're inviting in. Here's to landing in inboxes with style, not in spam!

Final thoughts

And here we are, at the end of our email wisdom journey! So, what's the game plan moving forward? Well, it's all about rolling up those sleeves and diving into the nitty-gritty of email crafting. But worry not, with the arsenal of tips and tricks you've gathered, your emails won't just survive; they'll thrive.

Keep in mind, the inbox is a sacred space. You've gotta earn your spot there. How? Transparency is your best pal, and trust is the currency. Keep an eye on the pulse of your email's performance — those open rates, click-throughs, and the dreaded spam complaints. They're like tea leaves; they tell the story of where you're hitting the mark or missing a beat.

But hey, don't rest on your laurels! The digital world's spinning fast, and what worked like a charm today might be old news tomorrow. Stay curious, stay updated, and above all, respect the inbox. Your subscribers aren't just numbers on a list; they're your peeps, your tribe. Treat 'em right, serve up the content they love, and they'll stick around.

So, ready to make some email magic? Off you go then! Craft those irresistible emails that don't just land but make a home in the right inboxes, spark joy, and get the party started. 🚀💌

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