How To Avoid Email Spam Filters | Subject Lines, Trigger Words (2024)

When you press “send” on an email, you can’t just assume it will reach an inbox. One out of four American business emails was marked as email spam or went missing in 2015.

That’s an 11% drop in email deliverability from 2014. Email spam filters are tightening their scope and people are losing tolerance for unsolicited emails.

What this means for you:

When you’re writing emails and compiling lists, 25% of your effort is going to waste.

To help you rise above the average sender’s open rates, here are10 reasons why emails get marked as spam, and how to fix each. Take notes.

Email tracking in your inboxFind out if your emails are making it to the other side

Why Automatic Email Spam Filtering Happens

#1: Your Subject Line Includes a Spam Trigger Word

Sometimes the words you choose are what’s keeping you from reaching your prospect.

This applies most to your email subject line. Words like “free,” “money,” “help” and “reminder” all trigger content-based email spam filters. Especially if you’re not added as a contact in your recipient’s email database.

Here’s a more complete list of email spam trigger words:

Want even more? Here’s a list of 200 common spam words.

The takeaway:Keep this list by you as you type your emails to avoid using these words. You can bookmark this web page or print it out for your desk.

If there’s a word that you need to use, keep it out of your subject line.

#2: Your Email Has All Caps

IF YOU WERE A FISH, WOULD YOU SWIM RIGHT INTO A NET?

We didn’t think so. Using all caps in an email is game-over just the same.

This one’s that simple.

#3: Your Email Has Exclamation Points

How excited are you about avoiding email spam filters?!?!?!

Like emails with all caps, emails with exclamation points are food for spam catchers. Especially when they’re in the subject line.

Because messages with exclamation points resemble true spam emails looking to scam recipients, they are treated the same by email providers. They’re filtered from inboxes.

It’s the similarity principle. In this case, people have set systems to group emails based on similarities that they have.

Here’s how an email that’s fallen victim to a spam filter shows up in the dark depths of a recipient’s spam folder:

The takeaway: No exclamation points in your subject lines. When you have a minute, also take a look through your own “Spam” folder for patterns to avoid in your own emails.

#4: You’re Using Attachments

Sending an email with an attachment to someone who’s expecting to hear from you (i.e. someone who has you in their Contacts) is okay to do. I’m sure you’ve done it plenty of times without a hitch.

It’s sending an email with an attachment to a new, cold contact that causes an issue. Remember the similarity principle above? Same applies here.

True spam emails often contain destructive attachments, so spam filters supervise (and remove) emails with attachments.

The takeaway: When you’re writing a cold email and you’d like to include a case study or piece of sales collateral, do so with a link rather than an attached doc.

The benefit: you can track the link to see if they open it. And if it’s a multiple-page PDF, tools like Yesware allow you to actually track how long your recipient spends on each page.

And now (drumroll…) I am going to show you examples of all four above spam triggers in action, wrapped into a small snapshot of my “Spam” folder:

#5: Your Email Image to Text Ratio Is High

Messages that are overly graphic will not reach your recipient. Salesforce says so. Your email needs to be more than just an image or many images with little text.

Note: The common rule of thumb used to be to maintain a 60/40 text-to-image ratio. But recent research from Email on Acid shows that restrictions like this depend on the length of an email.

Their findings:

  • Emails less than 500 characters should contain a supporting image

  • Emails over 500 characters are not significantly impacted by image/text ratio restrictions

To give you an idea of what a 500-character email would look like, this message is exactly 500 characters (with spaces).

Emails of this length are typically 5 to 7 sentences long. They give you enough room to introduce yourself in the email, describe why you’re reaching out plus what value you offer, and then request something. Just like that.

Because sales emails today are kept short in order to draw a prospect’s attention, keep it, and quickly drive action, they often fall within this 500-character range.

The takeaway: Emails with a graphic and no text just about guarantee your email will never see the light of day on the other side. If your email is at or under 500 characters, A/B test it. Use a bulk email tool to split up your recipient list into two. Send the first batch a version with an image, and the second a version without an image. Track campaign performance to see if you have higher opens with one versus another. (Most email platforms don’t measure email spam rates, so you have to infer spam rates from open rates.)

You can also try a free tool like mail-tester to audit your email before sending.

#6: Your Email Has Different Colored Fonts and/or Styles

Live life colorfully, but not in your outreach emails to cold contacts.

Here’s an example of an email that’s definitely spam-bound.

Email spam filters look for variations of colors and font styles as a first flag for removal.

The takeaway: Keep it simple. For each email you send, use no more than 3 font styles/colors total. Don’t forget: hyperlinking a page on your website and bolding your ask gets you up to two.

#7: Low Open Rates

Webmail providers like Gmail are increasingly using recipient engagement to classify an email as spam or not. It’s called “Engagement-Based Spam Filtering.” They identify when a user deletes unopened emails from senders, and begin to filter out these emails from reaching the inbox in the first place.

The takeaway: If you’re sending emails to someone over and over without any opens, then stop. It’s a wasted effort. Use an email tracking tool (Yesware offers a free trial) to see whether emails sent from your company account are getting opened.

“When you find yourself spinning your wheels on an ice cold prospect, use your judgement about when to cut your losses,” says Joel Felcher. “We coach our team to break it off after 5 or six unopened emails.”

Tip: Send your emails at the right time by checking out this free tool [Bookmark for later].

Boost open ratesAlways know what is/isn't working with real-time engagement insights

Why Your Recipient Is Marking You as Email Spam

#8: Your Email Is Unsolicited (and Aggressive)

According to MailChimp, 43% of users report emails as spam if they don’t recognize the From Name or email address. So if they don’t know you, they flag you.

That’s a tough outlook for emailing cold prospects. And once you’re marked as spam, you’re blocked from reaching that person again.

The takeaway:Personalize your email. This tip is becoming a mantra in our blog posts.

Emails with customized messaging for individual recipients see higher open rates (and reply rates). So not only are you NOT being marked as email spam, but your message is considered and answered.

#9: Overeager Follow-ups

Even if your personalized email arrives to an inbox and receives engagement, you can ruin your chances with a barrage of follow-ups.

People respect persistence, but being overly persistent is disrespectful. You need to let your prospect breathe.

The takeaway:If you’re automating your follow-up with a drip campaign, then space out your follow-up emails at least a few days at a time.

#10: Your Subject Line Is Deceptive

Subject lines that spark curiosity get emails opened, but that’s just half the story. Subject lines that misrepresent emails irritate prospects and drive them to flag you as spam.

For example, some sales reps add “Re:” or “Fw:” to guise their cold emails as conversations and pique their prospect’s interest. In reality, this is misleading. And why would a prospect trust you if your first touch with them is misleading? (They won’t.)

The takeaway:Keep your subject line honest (and free from trigger words, all caps, and exclamation points as mentioned earlier).

Want to try different subject lines? Save email templates, get reporting.

How To Avoid Email Spam Filters | Subject Lines, Trigger Words (2024)

FAQs

How To Avoid Email Spam Filters | Subject Lines, Trigger Words? ›

Subject lines written in all caps, or using exclamation points, are common spam triggers. But there are a few other words or phrases to avoid: Earn per week.

Do subject lines trigger spam? ›

Subject lines written in all caps, or using exclamation points, are common spam triggers. But there are a few other words or phrases to avoid: Earn per week.

Does free in subject line trigger spam? ›

Avoid using spam words in subject line.

These include “Completely free,” “$” sign and any percentage that's more than 100 i.e. using phrases like “Earn up to $10 with a 101% guarantee” will 101% send your e-mails right to spam. To make it easier, you can refer to Hubspot's exhaustive list of spam trigger words.

What words should you not use in an email subject line? ›

30 Words to Avoid in Your Email Subject Line
  • 100% satisfied.
  • 50% off.
  • Affordable.
  • Amazing.
  • Avoid.
  • Best price.
  • Collect.
  • Cost/ No cost.
Jan 29, 2012

What words do spam filters look for? ›

Words - "free," "guarantee," "opportunity," "earn," "million," "Viagra," "Xanax," "sex," "miracle," "click," "winner," etc. Phrases - "be amazed," "your income," "subject to credit approval," "earn xxxx per week," "check or money order," "print out and fax," "call now," "act now," "free trial," "meet singles," etc.

Do emojis in email subject line trigger spam? ›

Overuse of emojis in one subject line can trigger spam filters and harm your email deliverability. If the reader doesn't know your brand, your email can come across as a mass marketing message. Since some emojis can be interpreted differently, your message can end up confusing readers.

What are the five most common words appearing in spam emails are shipping? ›

The five most common words appearing in spam emails are shipping!, today!, here!, available, and fingertips! (Andy Greenberg, “The Most Common Words in Spam Email,” Forbes website, March 17, 2010). Many spam filters separate spam from ham (email not considered to be spam) through application of Bayes' theorem.

How many words is a good length subject line? ›

Keep it short

For many recipients, especially those reading your emails on mobile devices, shorter is often better. We recommend you use no more than 9 words and 60 characters.

Why am I suddenly getting a lot of spam emails? ›

But, if you suddenly started receiving dozens of spam emails, chances are, your address has been exposed. Websites like Have I Been Pwned? check if your personal data was compromised. These services work like search engines — just enter your email address and they will look through exposed data.

Why should you never send a mail with blank subject line? ›

It is highly unprofessional for an individual to leave the subject line of an e-mail message blank. It leaves no point of reference for the receiver. Writing the relevant subject in the subject line makes it easy to look at the inbox and get an idea about what's inside the e-mail.

Does putting secure in subject line do anything? ›

By simply putting the word SECURE in the subject line of your UMass Chan email, your message will be encrypted. Encryption can be activated by selecting the Encrypt function from the Outlook Mail client or Office 365 Outlook on the web.

How do I protect the subject line in an email? ›

Sending an Encrypted Email

Encrypt an email by typing [encrypt] or [secure] in brackets anywhere in the subject line of the email.

What are 5 negative words to be avoided in emails? ›

1. Words that Seem Rude or Condescending
  • a. Fine. “Is it okay if I take two more days to finish the report.” ...
  • b. No. “No, it's on the 5th floor.” ...
  • c. Need. “I need you to have this done by Friday.” ...
  • d. Important. “Here are some important instructions for the new copy machine.” ...
  • e. Thanks. ...
  • a. Sorry. ...
  • b. Just. ...
  • c. Actually.

What is a bad subject line? ›

Subject lines with words and phrases that trigger SPAM filters. 2. Subject lines that ask for time. 3. Typos in subject lines.

What are the best words to use in a subject line? ›

Subject lines that use words like “urgent,” “breaking,” “important,” or “alert” have higher open rates. By communicating a known start and end date for a special sale or promotion, viewers scrolling through their inbox will click to see what they can get in that window of time.

How do I strengthen my spam filter? ›

Scroll to Spam and click Configure or Add another rule. In the Add setting box, enter a unique name for the setting. Turn on more aggressive spam filtering. It's likely that more incoming messages will be marked as spam, and sent to recipients' spam folders.

What are spam filters most effectively protecting against? ›

To be truly effective, spam filters must scan every incoming email in real time and block many forms of malware such as suspicious URLs, suspicious attachments, and social engineering attacks such as phishing.

Do links in emails trigger spam filters? ›

Don't use URL shorteners or full URL strings for your links.

Spam filters look for these long hyperlinks and count it against you in spam scoring. At the other end of the spectrum are URL shorteners, which have now become a favorite of spammers because they hide the final destination of the link.

Do emojis in subject lines increase open rates? ›

While some may see them as silly or unprofessional, there are actually some benefits to using emojis in email subject lines. Here are some of the benefits: Emojis can grab attention and make email subject lines more clickable. They are known to increase the open rate by 29% and the click-through rate by 28%.

What types of email subject lines are prohibited by the CAN-SPAM Act? ›

The CAN-SPAM Act doesn't prohibit email advertising, but it prohibits certain fraudulent practices related to email advertising, such as using false or misleading identity information (“From,” “To,” and “Reply to”) or deceptive subject lines.

How effective are emojis in email subject lines? ›

An emoji in an email subject line can increase click-through rates (CTR) by 28%. However, this can vary based on the frequency of emoji use, if you choose the right emoji, and each subscriber's familiarity with using emojis.

What are two main signs of spam emails? ›

Major warning signs in an email are:
  • An unfamiliar greeting.
  • Grammar errors and misspelled words.
  • Email addresses and domain names that don't match.
  • Unusual content or request – these often involve a transfer of funds or requests for login credentials.
  • Urgency – ACT NOW, IMMEDIATE ACTION REQUIRED.

What are common spam trap email addresses? ›

For example, email addresses with a typo in the domain, such as @gnail instead of @gmail. Typos on the domain side of the address, after the @, are the most common spam traps, but you can also strike one with a misspelled username — the bit before the @.

What is too long for a subject line? ›

Keep subject lines short

As discussed above, research shows around 41 characters is the optimal length for a subject line. Still, some marketing experts suggest going even shorter. Backlinko founder Brian Dean says subject lines which on average do not exceed 16 characters have significantly higher open rates.

What is an example of a subject line? ›

Here are a few examples of effective sales email subject lines that work very well: “Limited time offer: Get 20% off your first purchase!” “Don't miss out on our biggest sale of the year!” “Sneak peek: Introducing our newest product line”

What is the best number of characters in an email subject line? ›

Short subject lines perform better.

Subject lines with: Word counts of one or two (5 to 10 characters) are most likely to gain opens and clicks. More than 14 words come in second in terms of performance. Two to 14 words reduce clicks and opens.

Is it better to block or delete spam? ›

If you receive any unwanted email, the best approach in almost every case is to delete it immediately. It is often clear from the Subject line that a message is junk, so you may not even need to open the message to read it.

Will I ever stop getting spam emails? ›

It's important to note, however, that you will never be able to stop all spam mail. Since sending spam is so easy, many scammers will never stop using it, even if it often doesn't work. Still, if you take the right precautions, you can trim your incoming spam emails to a manageable amount.

Why do I get hundreds of spam emails every day? ›

If you've started to receive an endless flow of junk email, you may be the victim of spam bombing. This is a tactic used by bad actors and hackers to distract you from seeing emails that really are important to you. This can also be an indication that another account has been compromised.

Should I skip lines in email? ›

Format the email correctly.

The first line of the email should include a formal greeting followed by a line break then the first sentence of the first paragraph. Use line breaks between each paragraph. Follow the last paragraph with a line break then the closing.

Why do people write emails in the subject line? ›

It is the first impression, it is your tagline, it is the reason the recipient will, or will not open it. The purpose of the subject line is to get the person reading to say three simple words: "Tell me more." If you think about it, an email's subject is much like a company tagline.

Why should you make your subject line clear? ›

By using clear and specific language in your subject line, you'll not only improve the chances of your email being read, but you'll also show your recipient that you value their time and attention.

How do you grab attention in the subject line? ›

Here are 10 ways to write compelling subject lines that catch your readers' attention:
  1. Keep it short and clear. The purpose of your subject line is to engage your audience and catch their attention. ...
  2. Create a sense of urgency. ...
  3. Personalize. ...
  4. Ask questions. ...
  5. Be honest. ...
  6. Use numbers. ...
  7. Offer real value. ...
  8. Include call to action.

What is a better subject line than checking in? ›

Instead of saying "Checking in" or "Touching base," opt for "Let's take a look" as a follow-up email subject line. If you told someone to contact you at a later date, this subject line reminds them that you've previously spoken with them. It also maintains a friendly and conversational tone.

What is the most important thing I should do with every email? ›

The most important aspect of the email is to make sure the other person knows what you're saying. Keep it straightforward. A first impression via email is never easy, because your tone and word usage can make or break a relationship.

Which of the following is considered as poor email etiquette? ›

Even if your email is urgent, it is poor etiquette to use all caps in the subject line, as that can appear like overly aggressive SHOUTING – or look like a spam mail.

Can you leave a subject line blank depending on the concern of the email? ›

Can 'Subject Line' be left blank? – Answer to that question is 'Yes'. However, leaving the subject line blank is considered an extremely bad practice.

Which of these words should be avoided in the subject line? ›

30 Words to Avoid in Your Email Subject Line
  • 100% satisfied.
  • 50% off.
  • Affordable.
  • Amazing.
  • Avoid.
  • Best price.
  • Collect.
  • Cost/ No cost.
Jan 29, 2012

What is avoid overused words? ›

Avoid using words to fill up space. Modifiers, qualifiers, and intensifiers (very, almost, nearly, quite) add nothing to our writing. Unnecessary adjectives and adverbs clutter up the page and put our readers to sleep. We should also avoid using big words and empty phrases because we think they makes us sound clever.

What is the 5 email rule? ›

If you want to write emails that people actually read, make them no longer than five sentences. Anything more than that, and you need some other form of communication – an old-fashioned call perhaps, or a meeting.

Do exclamation points trigger spam filters? ›

Subject lines written in all caps, or using exclamation points, are common spam triggers.

How do you write a killer subject line? ›

12 tips to create good email subject lines
  1. Shorten your subject lines. ...
  2. Avoid spam words in your email subject lines. ...
  3. Ask open-ended questions in the subject line. ...
  4. Include a deadline in the subject line. ...
  5. Try a teaser subject line to get people to open your email. ...
  6. Give a clear command in your subject.
Jun 6, 2023

What is a strong subject line? ›

Good subject lines are often personal or descriptive, and give people a reason to check out your content. Whatever your approach, it's important to keep your audience in mind, and test different words and phrases to see what they prefer.

Which word in email subject line might make your email look like spam? ›

#1: Your Subject Line Includes a Spam Trigger Word

Words like “free,” “money,” “help” and “reminder” all trigger content-based email spam filters. Especially if you're not added as a contact in your recipient's email database. Want even more? Here's a list of 200 common spam words.

Which of the following words should be avoided on subject lines for better open rates? ›

On the other hand, there are number of keywords that can be detrimental to open and engagement rates, including: Free: Near the top of the list of words to avoid for email subject lines is “free” due to overuse. It can also harm a sender's reputation. $$$: Symbols and emojis are usually triggers for SPAM filters.

What causes excessive spam emails? ›

If the spam keeps rolling in, it could mean your email address was exposed in a data breach. It can be hard to prevent spam when cybercriminals have your information. One option in this case is to change your email address. Start by registering for a new account with your current email service.

What causes sudden increase in spam emails? ›

Your email address has been added to a mailing list: One of the most common reasons for an increase in spam emails is that you may have been added to a mailing list. Mailing lists are collections of email addresses that are used to send out newsletters, promotional emails, and other marketing materials.

What are the most common email phishing subject lines revealed? ›

Top Phishing Email Subjects Globally
  • Google: You were mentioned in a document; "Strategic Plan Draft"
  • HR: Important: Dress Code Changes.
  • HR: Vacation Policy Update.
  • Adobe Sign: Your Performance Review.
  • Password Check Required Immediately.
  • Acknowledge Your Appraisal.
  • IT: Internet Report.
  • Main points from today's meeting.
Oct 26, 2022

Why am i getting so much spam all of a sudden 2023? ›

But, if you suddenly started receiving dozens of spam emails, chances are, your address has been exposed. Websites like Have I Been Pwned? check if your personal data was compromised. These services work like search engines — just enter your email address and they will look through exposed data.

Why do blocked emails still come through? ›

There are a few reasons this can happen: The sender is also on your allow list. The allow list takes precedence over the block list to ensure no desired mail is lost. Check your allow list to make sure the sender is not on it.

How do I block spam emails? ›

When you block a sender, messages they send you will go to your Spam folder.
  1. On your Android phone or tablet, open the Gmail app .
  2. Open the message.
  3. In the top right of the message, tap More .
  4. Tap Block [sender].

What does flagging an email do? ›

You can Flag an email message you receive to remind yourself to follow-up or take action at a later time. Your flagged message will appear in the To-Do Bar, in Tasks, and in the Daily Task List in Calendar. You can also click your Search Folder – For Follow Up to find the messages you've flagged. 1.

What is the strongest indicator of a phishing email? ›

5 Common Indicators of a Phishing Attempt
  • Spelling errors.
  • Unusual requests.
  • Strange email content.
  • Personal information solicitation.
  • Unfamiliar email addresses.
May 3, 2023

Which is the common red flags of phishing emails? ›

Phishing emails often contain very generic greetings or even no greeting at all. Common generic greetings include “dear customer,” “dear account holder,” “dear user,” “dear sir/madam,” or “dear valued member.” If an email from an apparent trusted source does not address you directly by name, that could be a red flag.

What are 4 things to look for in phishing messages? ›

Emails that contain the following should be approached with extreme caution, as these are common traits of phishing email:
  • Urgent action demands.
  • Poor grammar and spelling errors.
  • An unfamiliar greeting or salutation.
  • Requests for login credentials, payment information or sensitive data.
  • Offers that are too good to be true.

What should a subject line not be more than? ›

Keep it short. For many recipients, especially those reading your emails on mobile devices, shorter is often better. We recommend you use no more than 9 words and 60 characters.

Should you use free in a subject line? ›

On the other hand, there are number of keywords that can be detrimental to open and engagement rates, including: Free: Near the top of the list of words to avoid for email subject lines is “free” due to overuse. It can also harm a sender's reputation. $$$: Symbols and emojis are usually triggers for SPAM filters.

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