The Blacklist – Words To Avoid In Your Email Marketing

What words must you avoid on your email copy?

Email marketing is about getting people from their email inbox to your business’ website. There are several methods to do this, but in essence, you have to rely on the written word to convince people to take action.

Therefore, you have to know which are the best words to use in your marketing. There are lots of words that are associated with good performance, but there are many more that are also blacklisted. These words can be unconvincing to customers and can therefore lead to mistrust between the two of you. Or worse, they can get you caught in spam filters and no-one will see your content.

So, what words do you want to avoid? Here is the blacklist of words you shouldn’t use in email marketing campaigns.

Act now – while act now is often considered good for website call-to-actions, this word is often picked up on by spam filters.

RE: – unless the email is actually a reply, don’t use this in your email marketing. Email servers are good at spotting which are true replies. Plus, readers will be annoyed when they realise they haven’t started a conversation with you. You need to build trust with your audience.

Additional income/your own boss/make money/earn – anything that seems like you’re going to offer someone a way to earn money automatically sends out a spam message. Generally, email users don’t like this and spam filters are more likely to relegate your message to the spam folder.

Free – nothing is ever for free. You always have to give something, even if it is information. So, don’t use the term, you’ll only upset your audience.

Hello/Friend/Family – making it seem like you already have a relationship with the audience that is more than B2C or B2B is not going to help. People are wary of who they share their contact information with and these words are often targeted by spam filters.

Winner/win/congratulations – there have been so many fraud schemes that use these terms that email filters now remove messages with these terms in. If you have a competition and want to announce the winners or contact people who have won, use Facebook, Twitter or another social media program. Or get the contact details of the entries and phone them.

Guarantee/promise/trust – While these words are designed to give people confidence in your credentials, they often don’t. People should be able to trust you without you asking them to. Therefore, don’t use these words in your copy.

Another Few Email Marketing Copy Pointers

It isn’t just the words above you shouldn’t use. Here are some of the other tips you should be following to get past spam folders and to get people to read your content.

Don’t Make Spelling Mistakes

People associate spelling mistakes with poor education, poor service and fraud. Therefore, bad spelling mistakes are going to detract from your message. Always get a professional to proofread your content or use a grammar program to help you get it right.

Increase The Number Of Words In Your Subject Lines

Those with just one word tend to get pushed to spam folders. Always have between four and eight words in your subject lines. This will help you get more of your messages read.

Don’t Use All Caps

Only the first letter of any word should be in capitals in a subject line and the first letter in the sentence within the copy of the email should be capitalised (unless it’s a noun). Anything else and it will seem as if you’re shouting at your audience. This is very aggressive and people will immediately disregard your email.

Don’t Use Exclamation Points In Your Subject Line

Another point is to avoid using exclamation points in subject lines. It can look aggressive and unprofessional.


You want to avoid using the wrong words in your email marketing, such as the examples we have given you above. Otherwise, your emails could end up in your subscribers’ spam boxes and you will have wasted your efforts and lost out on potential revenue.

What words do you avoid in your email copy? Have you tried split testing your content to see if these words affect open/click through rates?

Let us know in the comments below.

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