Lead Generation Tips

Spam words to avoid: do they still matter?

In DEVEO we take great care to avoid certain words and phrases in our emails to prospects. This is only one small step to avoid spam filters: is it still relevant today?

Spam words in email marketing
Spam words in email marketing

What makes DEVEO an expert?

As a lead generation company Deveo has been contacting new prospects on behalf of our clients since the mid-noughties. During this period, spam filters have increasingly become more sophisticated, but we still need to approach new people. Therefore, one of the questions we consider carefully is how to avoid spam filters.

Spam filters have evolved

It’s no longer a case of making sure you didn’t accidentally write ‘FREE VIAGRA!!!’ in your email subject line. We’ve watched the technology evolve & inbox placement become harder to achieve. Email providers have become more adept at filtering out what they deem to be undesirable emails. With spam filters looking at many different elements from the cleanliness of your code to the reputation of your IP address and respect of security protocols, perhaps you may be left wondering if certain words or phrases still have an impact?

Avoiding spam filters: not one single factor

Certainly, making sure that you do not have spammy subject lines is not the only thing you should look at. Email deliverability has many parts, and it is the sum of these parts that will lead to a successful outcome. There is not one single factor that you should pay attention to, but all of them. Having one area perfect will not guarantee success. You can have perfect subject lines, but if your sender reputation is bad or the body of your message is full of images and little text then the chances are you will not make it to an inbox. Conversely, if you have a great sender reputation but include a spam word in your subject then the impact should be minimal.

What do spam filters look at?

Some areas that spam filters look at include:

  • The sender
  • The email subject
  • What is in the message?
  • The reputation of the sending domain
  • Does the recipient have you in their address book?
  • How clean is your HTML & CSS coding?
  • Have your respected security protocols?

So all things considered, how important is the subject line anyway?

Whilst it is important to note that this is only one small part of avoiding spam, it is still essential! First, from a human level to create a good impression & make the prospect want to open your email. Second, you don’t want to take any actions that could lead to software perceiving your email as spam. Avoiding certain words or phrases is a very simple step to take. No reputable company would want to be perceived as a spammer.

Spam words in the subject and/or body of the email

The first (and arguably this most important) area you need to pay attention to is the email subject. It’s generally accepted that a lot of these words are only going to trigger spam filters when they are used in the email subject line. What you say in the body of the message doesn’t have the same impact. What counts more for the email body is the number/size of images & links vs the amount of text you include, and are any images set up properly (with Alt-image attributes etc.)?

Golden rules for the subject line

There are a few golden rules that we can apply:

  • Don’t write in capitals
  • Don’t use excessive punctuation
  • Avoid using an excessive number of spam words. This is cumulative. Including one relevant word which features on a list of known spam words is unlikely to trigger a spam filter. If you use several spam words then you are far more likely to be caught out. Any doubt, use suggest using A/B testing to get to know your audience better.

Our recommendations?

Avoiding perceived spam words is an easy step to take to help your emails sound more credible. Can you replace the ‘spam’ with a different word or phrase? For example, ‘Free XXX’ can be exchanged for ‘Complimentary XXX’ That being said, if you need to legitimately use one of these words in your email subject then don’t worry. As long as you have respected the other protocols then a lone word from this list shouldn’t have too much impact.

Our list: 380 spam words & phrases to avoid in B2B email subject lines

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