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Creating an email can be a lot of work. So for it to land in the junk folder? A crushing little soul, ain’t gonna lie. You might be tempted by the hundreds of articles on Spam Trigger Words to Avoid, but don’t be fooled. Spam trigger words are most a myth of email deliverability, and it now takes more than words to get to the inbox.

? #EmailMarketing spam trigger words are an email deliverability myth.
✅ Here’s what spam filters actually look at.
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Let’s see the truth about how spam filters actually work.

More Than Words: How Spam Filters Actually Work

When email marketing took off in the 1970s and 1980s, it was helpful to know what words to avoid so that your email could escape the dreaded junk folder. However, this tactic also allowed spammers to find their way into the inbox.

Spammers have gotten smarter, and so have spam filters.

Mailbox and Internet service providers (ISPs) like Outlook and Gmail are now looking beyond words to filter incoming e-mail to their users. There are three ways to do this are to verify Internet Protocol (IP) addresses and domains, email authentication, and subscriber engagement.

Tip: You can be proactive with email spam testing so that you don’t get caught in an email deliverability dilemma, which can be difficult to resolve!

Checking IP addresses and domains

Is your email from a blocked IP address? Are you linked to blocked websites? Is there anything suspicious in your email header like a sender email address that clearly doesn’t match the sender’s name?

ISPs use a sender score or reputation to determine your credibility or legitimacy based on emails from your IP addresses and domains. Significant abuse puts you on the block list.

Spammers try to get around this problem by going through IP addresses and domains, so when you get a new IP address or domain, ISPs may think you are spam unless you do a good job. IP and domain preheating.

For this reason, many spam filters also look at the authentication of emails.

Checking email authentication

You have to prove that you are the real thing. It’s there that Email authentication Between. There are three standards:

  • Sender Policy Framework (SPF): a way to verify that the domain of a sender comes from said domain
  • Email identified by DomainKeys (DKIM): a « digital signature » to show that your e-mail is authorized and actually associated with your domain
  • Domain-Based Message Authentication, Reporting, and Compliance (DMARC): a policy and reporting layer on top of SPF and DKIM to help fight identity theft and phishing

Yet spammers continue to evolve with spam filters. It doesn’t help that people the definition of spam has evolved as well as legitimate emails.

With that in mind, ISPs have stepped it up even more, making it harder for spammers and marketers to « play » the system by giving away the subscribers the key to spam filtering logic.

Digging into subscriber engagement

Critical email analytics engagement tables with email read rate
Source: Litmus e-mail analysis

We’re not just talking about subscribers manually filtering their emails (although that also plays a role). Using advanced algorithms, spam filters now examine how a subscriber interacts with emails, whether positive or negative. For example…

Positive impact: Are subscribers opening, responding or forwarding your email? Do they mark your emails as « This is not spam »?

Negative impact: Are subscribers using spam or junk buttons for your emails? Or delete them immediately without even reading them?

According to the Gmail anti-spam team, « Think about how you can get the user to like your [e]mails. « That’s right: direct from one of the best ISPs in email client market share, it was revealed that email engagement is taken very seriously.

This means that even if your emails are legitimate, it’s not enough anymore. They need to be sought.

So how can you avoid the spam filter?

Do what spammers can’t: prove who you are and send relevant content your followers love.

Ok so there is some truth to avoid spam trigger words.

On its own, specific words will not trigger spam filters (unless they are configured by a company or individual in this way). But words are something to consider if the reputation of the sender of your email is already bad. Hope you never get to this point, but if you do, you’ve got bigger things to worry about than spam trigger words.

This is why it is important to be proactive. According to our State of Email 2020 Report, Fall Edition, only 70% of marketers use spam filter tests before sending emails, but of these, only about a quarter do this quite often.

decisive email spam test
Source: Litmus spam test

Ultimately, there is no magic bullet or list of spam trigger words to avoid that will get you out of the junk folder. But if you properly authenticate your emails, grow your email list with explicit consent, and put your followers at the center of everything you do, you’re already off to a good start in inbox and in the heart of your subscribers.

We have some great tips to get you started:

Do you have any questions or comments? We welcome them below. And share this article (for email sake!) To help us end the myth of spam trigger words.

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