Why Spam Trigger Words are No Longer Relevant in 2023

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You’re looking to reach the inbox — fantastic. You put time into crafting the perfect marketing email and so you want it to reach your recipients and receive positive engagement — even better.

As a last check before hitting send, you have found this blog post to confirm that you’re not using any spam trigger words that would cause your email to be automatically rejected.

Well, there is some good news for you. Spam trigger words are an outdated concept, and inbox service providers (ISPs) are sophisticated enough to use other indicators when trying to determine if an email is spam.

However, you should still be paying attention to the type of content that you are sending and focusing your efforts on content that subscribers are expecting to receive.

While this isn’t a long list of words to omit from your outreach, there are a few basic steps that you can take to help reach your subscribers in their primary inbox by building or maintaining strong deliverability.

How to Avoid the Spam Folder

Here are 4 tips to help you protect your brand’s reputation and make sure your emails are reaching the inbox.

1. Send targeted content to those that have asked to receive it.

Sending to contacts that have provided consent to be sent marketing email will result in mail that is engaged with in a positive way.

It’s also important to send mail that contacts are expecting to receive.

For example, contacts that have requested to receive a monthly newsletter may engage negatively if they’re sent a daily email. This may include leaving it unopened or taking more drastic measures like unsubscribing or marking as spam.

In addition to obtaining consent and being thoughtful with outreach, you can protect a strong reputation by not sending to those that have stopped engaging with your emails.

It’s normal for lists to depreciate and for contacts to become unengaged. It’s important to start thoughtfully suppressing unengaged contacts before they start dragging down engagement rates and impacting reputation.

This strategy is often accompanied by a sunset policy, which is a plan put in place for managing contacts that have stopped engaging altogether.

2. Authenticate your brand’s marketing emails.

DMARC, SPF, and DKIM are means of authentication and all considered best practices.

Adding authentication to your brand’s sends won’t reverse negative reputation impact or ensure that mail is delivered to a primary inbox, but it can improve the trust that recipients’ mail servers have in the mail you send.

You should also take steps to protect your brand’s sending reputation by regularly monitor the following metrics:

Open Rate

Low opens are a sign that there is a need for unengaged contact suppression or that your sending reputation has been negatively impacted.

Click-through Rate

Low click-through rates can mean that there is an opportunity for better segmentation or clearer CTAs.

Hard Bounce Rate

High hard bounce can be an indication that a list is outdated, although reading the bounce message will be the best way to diagnose bounce issues.

Unsubscribe Rate

A high unsubscribe rate can also mean that a list is stale or that contacts are being sent something that they didn’t subscribe to.

Spam Compliant Rate

A high spam complaint rate is always a reason for pause as that’s a strong indicator that contacts weren’t expecting mail from your brand.

Spam complaints are taken seriously by inbox service providers (ISP) and can negatively impact your brand’s sending reputation quickly.

3. Avoid the abnormal.

ISPs are looking for senders to remain as “normal” as possible from send to send — of course “normal” being a relative term.

In general, sending to the same audiences (with the necessary segmentation) and avoiding large volume spikes can help your brand avoid the abnormal.

Being aware of what you’re linking to can also help you avoid the spam folder.

Just like how your brand’s reputation can dictate whether or not your mail is delivered to a primary inbox (not spam, junk, or other filtered inboxes), websites that you link to carry their own reputation.

If you share a link to an external website with a poor reputation, that can make your mail more likely to bounce or get filtered out.

4. Comply with local email regulations.

Whether it’s GDPR, CAN-SPAM, CCPA, CASL, or one of the many other local regulations, complying with these local requirements is going to be an important component to a successful mail strategy.

You must comply with the regulations alongside the requirements of your email sending platform (ESP). This not only protects you as a sender (violating local regulations can have ramifications) but allows for you to treat your contacts the way that they’re expecting to be treated based on where they’re located.

Building Your Brand’s Reputation

While, unfortunately, simply avoiding a list of words won’t keep you out of the spam folder, you can still take steps to protect your brand’s reputation and work towards strong deliverability.

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