Stop me if you’ve heard this one before… Monday, Tuesday, any day really, you log in to your email inbox and you have 42 new messages. “You have won the Ukrainian Lottery!” “Make Millions NOW!!” “Please help [insert someone from I have no idea where who would like to give you money from their trust fund so you can hang on to it for some reason].” And that most classic of spam emails: Viagra.

What do you do now? I think most of you will mark these as spam or delete them to focus on your real emails. Let’s turn that around. Are your valued subscribers any different? Sometimes it might even be your own email newsletter or important promotional info that gets junked.

How Do I Avoid This?

The most important elements of any email are the “From” and “Subject Line” details. These two key ingredients will convince your subscriber to either open your emails or not. Ignore the importance of these elements and your intended recipient might never even see the email. It will more likely bounce out of the inbox or be swallowed by a spam filter. Below I present the 100 key words to avoid when writing a subject line. Some will simply be filtered out by the email client (depending on the restrictiveness of its parameters) while others will be marked as spam by the user themselves.

100 Words and Phrases that Scream SPAM

FREE, attention, hi, urgently, instant, friend, hidden, for you, STOP, off, offer, now, hot, amazing, satisfaction, act now, apply now, now only, as seen, as seen on TV, avoid, be your own boss, work from home, home based, buy, call now, cash bonus, free cash, double your income, earn $, multi level marketing, earn money, make money, get paid weekly, serious cash, earn cash, extra income, fast cash, immediate payment, your delayed payment, funds management, free access, free gift, free info, information you requested, check this out, free offer, financial freedom, medicine, soft tabs, cialis, xanax, valium, vicodin, Viagra, levitra, herbal, enlargement, click here, open now, take a look, read now, don’t delete, this is not spam, collect, compare, consolidate, $$$, credit, debt, get out of debt, eliminate debt, lower your mortgage rate, refinance, lowest insurance rates, life insurance, loans, dear friend, discount, lose weight, online degree, online marketing, online pharmacy, opportunity, promised you, search engine listings, teen, winner, you’re a winner, your family, your email won, please help me, partnership request, God bless you, buy now, job offer!!!, limited time, undisclosed recipient.

Add to this list of words and phrases everything else that has something to do with pharmacy and pornography and words spelled in ALL CAPS, e.x.t.r.a. punctuation, dis o r g an iz_ed text, followed by $$$ or 100%, 50%, etc.

After reading this exhaustive list I’m sure you’re wondering what words can be used. Let’s just keep it simple. Use a subject line that you would open yourself, something that is not too flashy but raises some interest for the subscriber. Follow this with a familiar “From” name that your subscriber can relate to (which should be no different from your regular sending address since your customer/subscriber has opted-in to your contact list), and there’s your step one. Even that minimal attention can raise the chances of an open.

The next step occurs after your recipient has opened his or her email, but that will have to wait until my next blog. In the meantime, feel free to get a head start on the content writing process by checking out our free, downloadable PDF guides in our Email Marketing Manuals section. Our dedicated writing staff delivers top-quality research and expertise and new manuals are available every month.


by Daniel Miller

Daniel Miller was born in Las Vegas, but spent his formative years living in Malaga, Spain. There his passion for entrepreneurship and business blossomed into a successful computer consulting company. This taught him important lessons from how a businesses owner may wear several hats to the importance of building trusting relationships in business and where he first discovered the power of email marketing. Upon returning stateside he put those lessons to work at Benchmark Email, where he has risen in the ranks from Sales Representative to the Director of Marketing. At Benchmark, Daniel has helped businesses from mom and pop shops and kitchen table operations to large enterprises find the best possible email marketing solutions and strategies. Daniel regularly hosts webinars and speaks at business seminars, to chambers of commerce and technology groups, associations and startups delivering how tos and presentations on How to Get the Biggest ROI with Email Marketing and the most effective ways to boost their business with email marketing.