Email Spam Words You Should Avoid

On December 21, 2023
7min read
Dzenana Kajtaz Technical Content Writer @Mailtrap

Have you ever made a cake or an amazing meal and then just dropped it on the ground? Remember how disappointing it felt? 

Now imagine perfecting an email campaign just for it to get eaten alive by spam filters because of a poor choice of words on your end. The feeling of disappointment would be just as bad, right?

To help you avoid landing yourself in this situation, the outreach team at Mailtrap and I did some research and testing using our own cold email and regular campaigns and came up with 8 categories of email spam words you should avoid to achieve better email deliverability and open rates.

So, if you’re curious to see our findings, then keep reading!

How do email spam words work?

While for many, including myself, spam filters can be a bit of a mystery, understanding email spam trigger words is quite straightforward. 

A spam word, in most cases, is a keyword or phrase used to create urgency or simply grab attention by being sensational, very promotional, or in connection to a sensitive topic. That being said, some very common marketing language can also be seen as spammy when used in the wrong context, but more on that a bit later. 

Who keeps an eye out for spam words? Well, besides spam filters set up by email service providers that are trying to spot gimmicks, overpromises, multi-level marketing, and shady activities, email recipients themselves can be triggered by these words and decide to mark emails containing them as spam folder-worthy.

Are email subject lines the only part of an email where certain words are deemed as red flags? No, in reality, emails can contain spam words in different elements, including: 

  • email body 
  • header information
  • hyperlinks and anchor text 
  • image alt text 
  • email footer and signature 
  • email HTML and CSS code 
  • attachment names or within attached files

Email spam word categories 

As mentioned in the intro, through some research and testing, my outreach team and I have compiled a list of spam words you should avoid using completely or at least be careful with. To make the list more scannable, I divided the words into several categories, and we’ll now go through each one. 

Important: What you’ll see below is not a definite list of words that will trigger spam filters and email recipients. Creating a list of that sort is technically not doable as spammers change their shady strategies and scams often, thus making the list of email spam words ever-growing. So do keep in mind that even though you won’t find every spam word out there on our list, you can use the list to get a general idea of what should be avoided in your email marketing campaigns.

Financial and monetary offers:

  1. “Earn”
  2. “Discount”
  3. “Pure profit”
  4. “Credit”
  5. “Investment”
  6. “Loan”
  7. “Save”
  8. “Million dollars”
  9. “Financial freedom”
  10. “Get paid”
  11. “Bankruptcy”
  12. “Refinance”
  13. “Money back”
  14. “Debt”
  15. “Extra income”
  16. “No fees”
  17. “Best rates”
  18. “Cash bonus”
  19. “Extra cash”
  20. “Easy money”
  21. “Penny stocks”
  22. “Wealth”
  23. “No hidden charges”
  24. “No hidden costs”
  25. “Be your own boss”
  26. “Unsecured credit”
  27. “Lower interest rates”
  28. “Accept credit cards”
  29. “Best mortgage rates”
  30. “Cashback”

Urgency and scarcity:

  1. “Limited offer”
  2. “Act now”
  3. “Exclusive”
  4. “Urgent”
  5. “Immediate”
  6. “Deadline”
  7. “Only a few left”
  8. “Hurry”
  9. “Last chance”
  10. “Today only”
  11. “Final hours”
  12. “While supplies last”
  13. “One time”
  14. “Expires”
  15. “Never again”
  16. “Don’t miss”
  17. “Rush”
  18. “Time-sensitive”
  19. “Offer expires”
  20. “Instant access”
  21. “Closing soon”
  22. “Final call”
  23. “Once in a lifetime”
  24. “Limited time”
  25. “Now or never”
  26. “Flash sale”
  27. “Countdown”
  28. “Last minute deal”
  29. “Rare opportunity”
  30. “Ends tonight”

Marketing and sales promotions:

  1. “Offer”
  2. “Buy now”
  3. “Free”
  4. “Serious bargain”
  5. “Best price”
  6. “Deal”
  7. “Special promotion”
  8. “Winner”
  9. “Discount”
  10. “Special offer”
  11. “Giveaway”
  12. “Bonus”
  13. “Cheap”
  14. “Trial”
  15. “Free gift”
  16. “Prize”
  17. “Coupon”
  18. “Clearance”
  19. “Sale”
  20. “All new”
  21. “No obligation”
  22. “Limited time offer”
  23. “Exclusive deal”
  24. “Save big”
  25. “Bargain hunter’s dream”
  26. “Hurry, while supplies last”
  27. “Risk-free”
  28. “Act now”
  29. “Once-in-a-lifetime”
  30. “Mega sale”

Health and pharmaceuticals:

  1. “Viagra”
  2. “Weight loss”
  3. “Pharmaceuticals”
  4. “Supplement”
  5. “Herbal”
  6. “Cure”
  7. “Medicine”
  8. “Natural”
  9. “Pills”
  10. “Drugs”
  11. “Diet”
  12. “Remedy”
  13. “Treatment”
  14. “Healthcare”
  15. “Therapy”
  16. “Prescription”
  17. “Pharmacy”
  18. “Body”
  19. “Healing”
  20. “Wellness”
  21. “Detox”
  22. “Clinic”
  23. “Vaccine”
  24. “Organic”
  25. “Fitness”
  26. “Nutrition”
  27. “Therapeutics”
  28. “Supplements”
  29. “Well-being”
  30. “Antioxidant”

Personal and confidential claims:

  1. “Private”
  2. “Confidential”
  3. “Winner”
  4. “Selected”
  5. “Guaranteed”
  6. “Personal”
  7. “Secret”
  8. “Exclusive access”
  9. “Membership”
  10. “You have been chosen”
  11. “Claim”
  12. “Beneficiary”
  13. “Award”
  14. “Pre-approved”
  15. “Eligible”
  16. “Certified”
  17. “Not shared”
  18. “Sensitive”
  19. “Protection”
  20. “Verified”
  21. “Urgent”
  22. “Limited time”
  23. “Priority access”
  24. “Restricted information”
  25. “Top secret”
  26. “Special offer”
  27. “Confidential deal”
  28. “Privileged”
  29. “Exclusive rights”
  30. “Secure claim”

Exaggerated claims and hype:

  1. “Miracle”
  2. “Amazing”
  3. “Incredible”
  4. “Magic”
  5. “Once in a lifetime”
  6. “Revolutionary”
  7. “Sensational”
  8. “Unbelievable”
  9. “Phenomenal”
  10. “Fantastic”
  11. “Life-changing”
  12. “Unmatched”
  13. “Breakthrough”
  14. “Top-notch”
  15. “Stunning”
  16. “Spectacular”
  17. “Unparalleled”
  18. “Outstanding”
  19. “Extraordinary”
  20. “Supreme”
  21. “Astounding”
  22. “Remarkable”
  23. “Unprecedented”
  24. “Jaw-dropping”
  25. “Breathtaking”
  26. “Groundbreaking”
  27. “Mind-blowing”
  28. “Majestic”
  29. “Unrivaled”
  30. “Ultimate”

Spammy phrases and greetings:

  1. “Dear friend”
  2. “Congratulations”
  3. “You have been chosen”
  4. “Hello!”
  5. “Greetings”
  6. “Dear beneficiary”
  7. “Good news”
  8. “Special for you”
  9. “Attention”
  10. “Hi there”
  11. “To whom it may concern”
  12. “Special invitation”
  13. “Dear valued customer”
  14. “Exclusive invitation”
  15. “Dear Sir/Madam”
  16. “Good day”
  17. “Friendly reminder”
  18. “Welcome”
  19. “Important notice”
  20. “Dear [Name]”
  21. “Urgent response required”
  22. “Exciting opportunity”
  23. “Limited time offer”
  24. “You’re a winner!”
  25. “Act now!”
  26. “Confidential proposal”
  27. “Exclusive deal”
  28. “Fantastic offer”
  29. “Priority access”
  30. “Selected specially”

Suspicious attachments and links:

  1. “Download now”
  2. “Click here”
  3. “Attachment”
  4. “Unsubscribe here”
  5. “Link”
  6. “See attachment”
  7. “Exclusive download”
  8. “Open this”
  9. “Click to view”
  10. “Access here”
  11. “File attached”
  12. “Free download”
  13. “Click below”
  14. “Video inside”
  15. “Document”
  16. “View now”
  17. “Install now”
  18. “Activate link”
  19. “Preview file”
  20. “Access file”
  21. “Download attachment”
  22. “Exclusive link”
  23. “Open file”
  24. “Click to open”
  25. “Secure download”
  26. “Attached document”
  27. “Downloadable content”
  28. “Access attachment”
  29. “View attachment”
  30. “Open attachment”

How to bypass email spam filters?

With the various email spam words covered, it’s time to share with you my “recipe” for bypassing email spam filters.

But before diving in, it is important to note that this is what worked for my outreach team and me. So, depending on your audience, email practices, and other factors, you can skip some of these tips and/or decide to follow additional ones as well.

Pay attention to context 

Context is of great importance as it will help spam filters understand the intentions behind the words used in your email. Take this for example: 

One year, for Black Friday, I worked on a campaign that mentioned some cool offers we had prepared for our customers. In the campaign emails, I used phrases such as “big limited-time promotion” and “special gift”, and still, the email deliverability rate for the campaign was more than satisfactory. 

How is that possible, considering my direct usage of spam words? 

Well, first of all, the words/phrases that could be considered spammy were naturally placed within the email copy. Also, there was no excessive use of exclamation points, emojis, or all caps.

Along with that, it’s important to mention that the campaign emails were sent to only specific segments of our audience, all of whom completed our double opt-in form and for whom we knew might have an interest in claiming their gift or using our promotion code. 

So, if you find yourself using spam words in emails, don’t sweat it! Instead, just make sure you take the same precautions we did, such as making sure the words are used in the correct context and sending the emails to the right audience segments. The latter will not only help with seeming less spammy, but it will also increase your engagement rates and conversions. Win-win situation, right?

Maintain a stellar reputation and good engagement 

To keep our promise of providing high deliverability to our users, at Mailtrap, we have experts on the matter who offer consistent support. 

Yaroslav, one of our deliverability experts, shared with me his experience with spam words and spam filters, and here’s what he had to say:

“Spam filters nowadays are beginning to pay more attention not just to specific spam words as might have been the case previously but also to the overall reputation of the sender and the engagement generated by email recipients. So, if you were to use words that are technically considered to be spam in your email body, subject line, etc., but your sender reputation is excellent, and recipients have reacted to your previous emails in a positive way, chances are new emails will be delivered to the inbox and vice versa.

That being said, spam words can still cause quite an issue. Take this interesting case I encountered:

Verification emails from one of our users sent from a regular contact form were constantly being marked as spam. In an effort to figure out why, I checked everything from A to Z, and upon taking a more careful look at the content, I saw the following line: If you notice suspicious activity, please contact our Support Team at

Even though this line doesn’t necessarily look spammy, I decided to try removing it since the phrase suspicious activity could potentially trigger spam filters.

And I was right! With the line removed, the same verification emails began landing in the inbox.

What did this experience teach me? Email marketing and achieving great deliverability involves conducting a large number of tests! Only that way can you know with confidence and certainty whether poor inbox placement can be blamed on a spam word or another element of your email.”

Run spam tests on your emails

In the section above, I briefly mentioned the importance of email testing. This is a necessary process that turns knowing whether you’ll trigger spam filters from being a guessing game to a simple task you can complete with the help of a testing tool. For testing my emails, I use Mailtrap Email Testing. Its Spam Checker tells me what my chances are of landing in the spam folder instead of the inbox by verifying email content and assigning it a specific score with the help of the SpamAssassin filter.

A score below 5 is considered optimal, while anything above 5 means spam folder placement is likely. 

Along with assigning a spam score, the checker also gives you information on what HTML/CSS rules contributed to the score, thus allowing you to make the proper fixes in time. 

On the same page as the Spam Checker, Mailtrap Email Testing also offers blacklist reports. These reports will tell you if your IP or domain is present on any popular blacklists. And if so, it will provide you with links to their websites, where you can then initiate the de-listing process.

To see how the Spam Checker and Mailtrap Email Testing as a whole looks in action, check out the video below:

Want to take more steps to avoid being marked as spam by email service providers or recipients? Then try some of the following extra tips:

  • Maintain a great domain reputation
  • Design email templates using clean code and standard fonts
  • Use clear “From” Information
  • Implement email authentication
  • Provide a visible unsubscribe button 
  • Clean your email list regularly
  • Avoid the usage of link shorteners 
  • Balance your text-to-image ratio
  • Send attachments of appropriate size
  • Personalize your emails 
  • Be compliant with rules and regulations
  • Sign up for email feedback loops

Actions speak louder than spam words

Rules change, spam filters change, and spammers change, so while my list will definitely help with achieving better email deliverability, it will take much more than not using specific email spam words to please email service providers and recipients.

That said, try your best to follow email-sending best practices and fulfill the promises you make in your emails, especially if you’re sending bulk emails/mass emails. Only this way will you increase your chances of being deemed inbox-worthy by the software and the people scanning your emails.

Want more email spam-related content? Check out these articles:

Article by Dzenana Kajtaz Technical Content Writer @Mailtrap

I’m a Technical Content Writer with an educational background in software engineering and 4 years of experience as a writer, editor, and content marketer. Currently, I mainly focus on writing about email infrastructure, sending, testing, and so on, but I do love creating fun and engaging content on email marketing topics as well.