An ever-popular question we here at VR is “What words should I avoid in an email to ensure inbox delivery?” If only there was a straightforward answer to that question! As with many things email marketing related, the answer is: it depends. Sure, you know not to use pharmaceuticals like Cialis or Viagra in your subject line or email, but what about the word Free? Before I give you a list of words to avoid there are some things to keep in mind when writing your email. First, always have someone proofread your email! A typo in a benign word can suddenly create a delivery nightmare when it transforms into the hottest new spam word. If a word in your subject line gets truncated or broken it could go to a spam folder, or even worse, cause unsubscribes.

An example I saw was the phrase “Buttons and Bows” in a long subject line. Because the subject was too long the word Button was broken in the middle and caused delivery and unsubcribe problems. In addition, a subject line is not the place to use the short words for texting, like 4U, U or even #1 . Sometimes unsavory types want to use known spam words and try to get around delivery issues by breaking them up with spaces or disguising them. Spam filters know these tricks, so C r e d i t, C*r*e*d*i*t or CREDIT can still put your email in a spam folder. Using all caps for a word or a whole subject line can flag the email as being spam. Plus, all caps in the internet world means you’re yelling, and you don’t want to do that to your readers.And now the list you were looking for:

  1. Affordable
  2. Apply Now
  3. Additional Income/ Extra Income
  4. Dear Friend
  5. Free
  6. Home Based/Work from Home
  7. Mortgage Rates
  8. Opportunity
  9. Remove
  10. Save $
  11. Weight Loss

There are more of course, but you want to try to keep these 11 out of your subject line. Which brings up the question, “Free shipping is the number one subject line, how is Free on the spam word list?” Ah, great question! The word Free in your subject line won’t put your email in a spam folder all on its own. Most spam filters use a rating system so while Free can be a trigger, if the rest of your email is good (content clean, clean HTML, good links, and good delivery system) you can expect your email to be delivered to the inbox. To see more words to avoid, check out this list. And if you like things a bit more technical SpamAssassin has some great info, too. We have a recorded webinar and guide, Savvy Subject Line Writing for Success, to help you create successful subject lines.

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