Spam trigger words, do they exist, or don’t they? And if spam trigger words exist, what are they? Ask 5 different email marketing or email deliverability experts whether there is really such a thing as spam trigger words, and you’ll get seven different answers. Even highly respected deliverability sources will say something like “There is no such thing as spam trigger words… except..” or “Spam trigger words don’t exist, but…”. Because you see, spam trigger words do exist.

So, for those experts that say that they don’t exist, and then hedge, why do they say that (and then why do they hedge)?

It’s because spam trigger words do exist, which is why places such as ActiveCampaign, Constant Contact, and HubSpot all have contemporary (i.e. not outdated) articles on spam trigger words and how to avoid them (cf. HubSpot’s The Ultimate List of 394 Email Spam Trigger Words to Avoid in 2023, and ActiveCampaign’s 188 Spam Words to Avoid: How to Stay Out of Spam Email Filters, and finally Constant Contact’s Common Things that Trigger Spam Filters).

There are three main reasons that email deliverability and email marketing experts will say that spam trigger words don’t exist.

Reason #1 That Experts Will Tell You That Spam Trigger Words Don’t Exist

The primary reason that actual deliverability experts (as compared to self-annointed deliverability experts) will tell you that spam trigger words don’t exist is because they know that they do, and they also know that in terms of importance there are other factors which are more important, and to which spam filters and inbox providers usually give much more weight. If you are having deliverability issues these experts will rightly point to the big 3 issues, which are: list building and maintenance practices, domain reputation and authentication, and IP reputation. When deliverability issues rear their ugly head, one or more of these is almost always the culprit. So these experts don’t want to muddy the waters, or overcomplicate things, by adding in spam trigger words as an issue when a) the issue is most likely one of the big 3, and b) looking for spam trigger words and stopping the use of them won’t fix the issue anyways if it’s one of the big 3. And if you have the big 3 set up correctly then you are fairly unlikely to have an issue with the spam trigger words anyways, because the inbox providers trust you even if you’re saying stupid stuff.

Reason #2 That Experts Will Tell You That Spam Trigger Words Don’t Exist

Another reason that deliverability and email marketing experts will tell you that spam trigger words don’t exist is because they know that they do, and they’re going to tell you that they don’t exist… but they really do. But that they aren’t really anything to worry about. These are the ones that hedge.

Reason #3 That “Experts” Will Tell You That Spam Trigger Words Don’t Exist

The third reason that an “expert” will tell you that spam trigger words don’t exist at all is because they really believe that they don’t exist. At all. Run in the opposite direction of any “expert” that tells you that there is no such thing as spam trigger words. It’s like learning about evolution from a professor who says there was no such thing as dinosaurs. Or like learning about geography from someone who says that the Earth is flat.

Clearly these people in the third category are not aware that systems such as Apache SpamAssassin, which is one of the most widely deployed spam filters in the world, includes in the default install several files full of various words that trigger the spam filter, such as “100% guaranteed”, “Dear friend”, and “Money back guarantee”.

And by the way, anybody can download and check those SpamAssasin files for themselves, here.

What Are Some Common Spam Trigger Words?

We’re actually not going to regurgitate a list of common spam trigger words, because the three articles to which we link above do a bang-up job of that. Our job here was to simply lay to rest the question of whether they exist at all, and hopefully our work here is done.

Spam Trigger Words: Do They Exist or Don't They?  Here's the Deal

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