Spam Trigger Words to Avoid in Cold Outreach

Spam Trigger Words to Avoid in Cold Outreach

Gowtham Raj | 8 Mins Read

A spam folder is every marketer’s nightmare. Whether it’s a cold email or a marketing email, it must pass through the spam filters implemented by organizations, the Internet and email service providers.

Internet service providers (like Verizon, AT&T, etc.) and email service providers (like Gmail, Outlook, or Yahoo Mail) scan emails for spam. If they detect a spam message, they bury it in the recipient’s spam folder.

In this article, you will learn how spam filters work and evolve over the years and how to evade them ethically to land in your recipient’s inbox.

Table of Contents

Spam Filters

Spam filters are computer programs that prevent unsolicited, malicious, and bulk generic emails from landing in the recipient’s inbox and quarantine them in the spam folder.

By doing so spam filters protect users from:

  • Malicious phishing emails

  • Malware infused emails

  • Unsolicited commercial junk emails

  • Types of Spam Filters

    Though there are no specified types of spam filters available, we can classify them based on deployment.

    The nature and working mechanism of spam filters might change based on their types. However, your goal should be to ethically bypass the spam filters employed by Gmail and Outlook, due to their mass adoption.

    If you can bypass the primary spam filters employed by leading email service providers, your email must effortlessly go through the custom spam filters deployed by individual organizations.

    Spam Filter Types Based on Deployment

  • Hosted Spam Filters

  • On-Premise Spam Filters

  • Hosted spam filters, also known as server-side or cloud-based spam filters, are usually deployed by email service providers and Internet service providers (ISPs).

    However, multinational companies (MNCs) also deploy hosted spam filters to protect their multi-locale offices.

    Hosted spam filters are powerful and versatile enough to run on any device and operating system compared to on-premise spam filters.

    They are easy to scale and promptly adapt to new spamming techniques and evolving email threats with regular updates.

    On-premise spam filters are usually employed by security companies or companies that prefer confidentiality.

    These on-premise spam filters are highly customizable to the organization’s needs. To bypass this kind of spam filter might require additional work of trial and error at times.

    How Spam Filters Work

    Spam filters have evolved a long way from just a normal word and subject line filter to machine learning implementation, which predicts the whole tone of your email.

    Hence, it is important to understand their potential to land on your lead or prospect inbox. The evolution of spam filters:

  • Content filters

  • Blacklist filters

  • Source authentication filters

  • Challenge-Response filters

  • Machine learning filters

  • Content Filters

    Content spam filters will look for a specific set of words that is used by the majority of the spammers to evoke recipients to open emails.

    These filters operate by using a predefined list to check for specific words in various parts of emails, including the subject line, email body, links, and images.

    Content filters are one of the earlier versions of spam filters.

    Blacklist Filters

    Blacklist spam filters mark emails as spam that originated from blacklisted email servers. The identification of bad servers is done based on IP addresses.

    One of the good examples of this kind of filter is the Office 365 spam filter. However, all hosted spam filters have the capability of identifying and marking spam emails that come from blacklisted filters.

    Challenge-Response Filters

    As the name suggests, the challenge-response filter responds to the sender as soon as the email has been received with some challenges.

    If the sender domain is legitimate and the sender is human, there will be a valid response. In the case of bulk email sending, it is hard for the sender to respond to this particular email. As a result, the particular email will be sent to spam.

    Source Authentication Filters

    Source authentication filters work pretty straightforward. They simply look for email authentication protocols, such as SPF, DKIM, and DMARC.

    In the absence of such protocols, they divert emails to the spam folder of the recipient.

    The arrival of source authentication filters eliminates the need for challenge-response filters.

    Machine Learning Filters

    Nowadays all spam filters are equipped with machine learning algorithms.

    Machine learning algorithms classify emails as spam and non-spam based on existing data sets. This mechanism is known as supervised learning.

    Now, lets look into what’s happening behind the scenes.

    Machine learning filters rely on text classification to detect spam, inappropriate email content, and harmful emails.

    However, the effectiveness of text classification relies on text vectorization.

    Text vectorization is the process of converting text into numerical vectors or representations, making it machine-understandable.

    There are a few text vectorizers used by Google:

  • BPE

  • SentecePiece

  • Whitespace

  • RETVec

  • Of these four, RETVec is a new-gen multi-lingual text vectorizer developed and used by Google to detect and flag junk and phishing emails.

    The Resilient & Efficient Text Vectorizer (RETVec) is more robust and efficient than other text vectorizers.

    It overcomes the other text-vectorizer limitation of character-level manipulations, including insertion, deletion, typos, homoglyphs, LEET substitution, and more.

    The implementation of RETVec resulted in a 38% improvement in spam detection, -19.49% false positive reduction, and -17.71% false negative reduction.

    Google RETVec implementation Effects.

    Credits: Google

    As the vectorization is getting better and more robust, so is the text classification.

    Spam Trigger Words to Avoid in Cold Emails

    Since vectorization and text classification have become more robust, you need to avoid certain words and tones in your cold and marketing emails to avoid spam tagging.

    Words that create urgency and scarcity

    1. Urgent

    2. Limited time

    3. Don’t miss out

    4. Last Chance!

    5. Act Now!

    6. Act immediately

    7. Now only

    8. Stocks Running Low!

    9. This Won’t Last!

    10. One-Time Deal!

    12. Become a member

    13. Lifetime deal

    14. Exclusive offer

    15. Special offer

    16. Limited stock

    17. Hurry!

    18. Grab it now

    19. Final call

    20. Ending soon

    21. Get yours now

    22. While supplies last

    23. Don’t delay

    24. Immediate action required

    25. Instant access

    26. Quick!

    27. Rush!

    28. Time-sensitive offer

    29. Limited availability

    30. Don’t wait!

    31. Today only

    32. Final opportunity

    33. Act fast!

    34. Limited slots

    35. Limited seats

    36. Reserve now

    37. Don’t hesitate

    38. Limited edition

    39. Don’t pass this up

    40. Only a few left

    41. Secure your spot

    42. Grab yours before it’s gone

    43. Limited-time discount

    44. Expiring soon

    45. Act now or lose out

    46. Last chance to save

    47. Immediate response needed

    48. Limited-time bonus

    49. Instant savings

    50. Don’t miss your chance

    51. Take action now

    Words that convey exaggerated Claims

    1. Affordable

    2. This is HUGE! (for anything)

    3. Guaranteed Results! (no specifics)

    4. Life-Changing!

    5. Secret Weapon!

    6. Doctors HATE This One Trick! (for literally anything)

    7. You Won’t Believe What Happens Next!

    8. Unbelievable

    9. Revolutionary

    10. Breakthrough

    11. Mind-blowing deals

    12. Game-changer

    13. Remarkable changes

    14. Groundbreaking

    15. Jaw-dropping

    16. Unmatched

    17. Tremendous

    18. Monumental

    19. Earth-shattering

    20. Eye-popping

    21. Unforgettable

    22. Exhilarating

    23. Unbelievable

    24. Mind-boggling

    25. Spellbinding

    26. Insanely effective

    27. Insanely powerful

    28. Insanely profitable

    Words that Promise Fast Earnings

    1. Make Money While You Sleep!

    2. Get Rich Quick!

    3. Earn $XXX Per Day! (with no mention of the work involved)

    4. Become a Millionaire in Months!

    5. Turn Your Hobby into Cash!

    6. Instant profits

    7. Easy money

    8. Million dollars

    9. Billion dollars

    10. Financial freedom

    11. Increase your CTA

    Words that Promote Free Stuff and Shady Offers

    1. FREE!

    2. You’ve Been Chosen! (as a random, lucky recipient)

    3. Exclusive Offer Just for You! (everyone gets the same email)

    4. Risk-Free Trial! (with hidden cancellation fees)

    5. Double Your Money Back Guarantee! (good luck collecting)

    6. Click Here to Claim Your Free Gift!

    7. Free Gift

    8. Giveaway

    9. No credit cards needed

    10. Cheap

    11. Free trial

    12. 100% Free

    13. F r e e

    14. 50% off

    15. 0% risk

    Words to Use in Cold Emails

    Apart from avoiding the spam trigger words in your email campaigns, you can try including helpful words.

    Personalized Helpful Words

    1. You

    2. Yours

    Day/ Frequency

    1. Monthly

    2. Weekly

    3. Daily

    4. Monthly

    5. Weekly

    6. Weekend

    7. Yesterday

    Importance/ Attention

    1. Better

    2. Important

    3. Information

    4. Special

    5. Top stories

    6. Wonderful

    Asking Permission

  • Free for a chat

  • Available for a discussion

  • Are you available for 10 min meeting

  • Other Ways to Avoid Spam Folders

    Avoiding certain words neither guarantees the inbox deliverability nor reduces spam tagging. You need to follow certain etiquettes for better inbox deliverability.

    Include Personalization

    Generic emails are easy wins of spam filters. Emails with gender-neutral languages and too generic content will definitely marked as spam if the recipient has not opted for it.

    Include personalization in your email campaigns to get higher open rates. Use tools like GoZen Growth to personalize emails at scale.

    With Growth, you can go for simple first name personalization to advanced personalizations using liquid formulas.

    Growth liquid personalization

    Email Warmup

    The sender reputation score is another common factor that spam filters consider for the evaluation.

    If more number of recipients mark your email as spam, your email addresses will be blacklisted by spam filters. Meaning, that all emails originated from that email address will be put into spam folders without any further evaluation.

    This is why should build your sender reputation score.

    A sender reputation score for an email address can be built by having a real-time conversation with real email addresses for 3-4 weeks.

    This can be done autonomously with advanced cold email automation software like GoZen Growth.

    The advanced algorithms of Growth maintain a human-like conversation across multiple email addresses gradually.

    Adhere to Cold Email Best Practices

    Apart from the personalization and email warmup, there are many cold email best practices you should follow to guarantee email deliverability.

    This includes:

  • Before cold email campaign: subject line, cold email intro, email body etiquette

  • During cold email campaign: list cleaning and follow-up best practices

  • After cold email campaign: metrics analysis and collaboration

  • Avoid All Caps and Excessive Punctuation

    Subject lines with all caps and excessive punctuation were commonly used in the early days of cold and marketing emails.

    However, due to their prevalence in marketing emails, spam filters can easily identify and tag such emails as junk.

    Use sentence casing in your email subject line and email body to look human.


    Avoiding spam folders and achieving optimal inbox deliverability requires a dedicated effort to exclude spam trigger words and adhere to cold email best practices.


    Should marketing emails worry about spam trigger words?

    Marketing email campaigns need not worry about spam-trigger words since the recipients have opted-in for it.

    However, following email marketing best practices and giving true value will keep your sender’s reputation score high.

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    Author Bio

    Gowtham Raj
    Gowtham Raj

    As a content marketing specialist, Gowtham brings more than 5 years of experience in inbound marketing to GoZen. During his one year freelance stint, he strategically implemented SEO techniques in real-time, resulting in over 1 million all-time organic visits to a newly established website in a highly competitive niche.

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