The "Four-Letter" Words of Email Marketing - 200 Triggers that Flag the SPAM Blockers & STOP You at the Gate

Real Estate Broker/Owner with Fisher & Company, P.A., Marketing & Creative Strategists


I have been blogging recently about how Realtors and builders are not getting the results that they once enjoyed from their emarketing efforts.  See the posts Email Marketing: Have we Killed the Golden Goose Part I & Part II - Improving Your Open Rate. 

To recap, fewer emarketing messages are getting opened by consumers.  Many are bouncing either because the "e-address" is no longer valid, the mailbox is over quota, or the subscriber’s account has been suspended by the provider due to lack of use, but the biggest challenge facing marketers today is getting past the spam blockers. 

In the previous posts I made some recommendations to help you get your mail opened by creating credibility with your list of subscribers, such as using an opt-in system, segmenting your database, and targeting those segments with content relevant to the subscriber.  When I use segmentation to target my database, people are more likely to let me know that they have made a change since they are interested in receiving relevant material from us. 


How to Get your Offer or Message Past the Spam Blockers


Some SPAM filters use a point-based system to flag key words in your email.  As you use certain words or punctuation or symbols, the points add up, and even though your subscriber may want to receive your message or offer, by innocently tripping the spam filters you will get a false positive and your email may be blocked. 

Below is a list of words and symbols that you should not use in either the body or title of your email.  I recommend that you use a SPAM CHECKER, prior to sending your email to see your score.  Also, set up a couple of email accounts for yourself with yahoo, aol, hotmail, etc. (do not put them into your address book) and send a test message to yourself to see if it gets past the gate. 

How many of these you have inadvertently been using in your emails? 

As I continue to compile the list, I'll post an update when the additions merit a revision.  If you know of any additional words or phrases that we are likely to use in the real estate, mortgage and home building industries, please let me know and I will add them to the list.


This is a list of almost 200 words or phrases that SPAM TRIGGERS that are often used in email marketing.


% symbols

$ symbols (such as Save $, Make $, $xxx,xxxx)



Accept credit cards

Accept credit cards



Act now! Don't hesitate!

Ad (Contains word)

Additional income

Addresses on CD

All New


Apply now

Apply Online

As seen on

Auto email removal

Avoid bankruptcy

Be amazed

be considered spam

Be your own boss

Being a member

Below is the result of your feedback form

Big bucks

Billing address

Billion dollars


Bulk email

Buy (direct, recommendation)

Buying judgments

Call (free, now)

Calling creditors

Can't live without

Cannot be combined with any other offer

Cash (bonus, in on)

Cents on the dollar


Check or money order

Claims not to be selling anything

Claims to be in accordance with some spam law

Claims to be legal

Claims you are a winner

Claims you registered with some kind of partner

Click (below, here)

click here (for removal, to be removed,)

Compare rates

Compete for your business

Confidentiality assured


Consolidate debt and credit

Credit bureaus

Credit Card (#, offers)

Custom quote

Dear (email , friend,home owner, fellow entrepreneur, somebody)

Deleted from further communication

Different reply to address than the sending email address

Direct (email. Marketing)


Discusses search engine listings

Do it today

Don't delete

Double your income

Drastically reduced

Earn (extra cash, per week)

Easy terms

Eliminate (bad credit, debt)

Email marketing

Excluded from our mailing

Extra income

Fantastic deal

Fast cash

Featured on tv

Financial freedom

Financially independent

Find out anything

For (free, instant access, just "some amount", instant removal)

Free (access, debt, call, consultation,cruise, gift, info, investment, leads, membership, offer, preview, quote, trial, sample) Free money, 

Full refund

Future (mailing, promotion)

Get (out of debt, started now, your free sample)

Gift certificate

Great Offer (or Deal)

Guarantee, Guaranteed

Have you been turned down?

Hidden assets

In accordance with laws

Income from home

Increase (sales, traffic) 

Increase your revenue

Incredible deal

Info (or information) you requested


Internet market

Investment decision

It's effective

Join millions of Americans

Joke of the day

Limited time only

Lower (interest rates, monthly payment)

Lowest price

Marketing solutions

Mass email

Message (contains disclaimer)

Message has reached you in error

Message is being sent in full compliance (or any variation of this)


Money (back, making)

Month trial offer

More Internet traffic

Mortgage rates

Multi level marketing

Name brand

New customers only

No (catch, cost, credit check, disappointment, experience, fees, gimmick )

No (inventory, investment, middleman, obligation, questions asked, strings)

Not intended

Off shore

Offer expires

Offers (coupon, extra cash)

Once in lifetime

One hundred percent (free, guaranteed)

One time (mailing, message)

Online (marketing, promotion)


Opt in

Order (now, status)

Outstanding values

Pennies a day

Please read

Please respond

Potential earnings

Print out and fax


Produced and sent out


Promise you

Pure profit

Reached you in error

Real thing

Receive this message (or any variation)

Received this email (in error, by mistake, etc.)

Receiving this (special offer, email because, message)

Refinance home

Remove, removed or removal (phrases that contain the word remove: to be removed from our list me, request, you @, from, or any variation)

Requires initial investment

Reserves the right


Risk free

Round the world

Satisfaction guaranteed

Save  ($, big money, up to)

See for yourself

Sent in compliance

Serious (cash, only)

Shopping spree

Sign up free today

Social security number

Special (offer, promotion)


Strong buy

Subject to credit


Take action now

Talks about hidden charges

Talks about prizes

Tells you it's an ad

Terms and conditions

The best rates

The following form

This message is not spam ( or junk, or any variation of that phrase)

This message is sent in compliance
(or any variation)

To be deleted from our database


Unsecured credit/debt

Urgent (Information you requested, Important information regarding)

US dollars

Vacation offers

Visit our website

Wants credit card

We hate spam

We honor all

Weekend getaway

What are you waiting for?

Why pay more?

Will not believe your eyes



You have been selected

Your income




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Show All Comments
Karen Monsour
Coldwell Banker Fort Lauderdale Beach - Fort Lauderdale, FL
REALTOR, SSRS - Sells FL Waterfront, Short Sale Expert!

Thank you for the permission...this list is long and I didn't realize some of this is a great post and thank you!

Jul 26, 2008 03:16 PM #4
Deborah Fisher
Fisher & Company, P.A., Marketing & Creative Strategists - Fort Worth, TX

Thanks, Dave.  Hope they help you.  You might want to check out those other posts.  Email marketing has become quite the challenge.  You can no longer just send out a couple of thousand emails and expect results.  Although it is cheap to send out thousands of emails to your database, your time is worth far more.  The effort result equation just doesn't work without doing a few other things to insure that people open your emails.

Jul 26, 2008 03:23 PM #5
Charles (Chuck) Crooker

Grat post and very good advice, thanx Deborah. the more help we all get and give for our biz the better for all. I hope more will reply to thie post and give what they know. Marketing and growing your biz is very hard and $$ to do and with AR it will get easier and cheaper, Thanx, Chuck. 

Jul 26, 2008 03:23 PM #6
Deborah Fisher
Fisher & Company, P.A., Marketing & Creative Strategists - Fort Worth, TX

Thanks, Chuck.  It is important to give back and share what we know.  No one knows it all, and you never know when someone will throw something new out there or remind you of something you have long forgotten.  

Hope the list helps you to retool and refine your email strategies.


Jul 26, 2008 03:31 PM #7
Mark Organek
And the United States of America - Mesa, AZ
It's not a game, it's your life.

Deborah, thanks for the list.  (Maybe they should add "Replica Watches"  "Lottery"  "Finance Minister of Nigeria")  I'll avoid using the words off the list when possible.

Jul 26, 2008 04:52 PM #8
Meli Gerogianis
JKA Properties (Meli G Realty & Investment Group) - Clarksville, TN
Broker, CRS, ABR, SFR, CDPE, Licensed in TN & KY

Thanks for the list! I think there are also certain colors also that raise a flag: red on signature line and "?" on the subject line. Thanks again! We need all the info we can get!

Jul 26, 2008 05:42 PM #9
Deborah Fisher
Fisher & Company, P.A., Marketing & Creative Strategists - Fort Worth, TX

Thanks, Meli.  Check out my earlier post where it says to stay away from ALL CAPS, etc.

Jul 27, 2008 12:45 AM #10
The Brewer Team - Benchmark Realty
Benchmark Realty - Franklin, TN

Thanks for the information. I had no idea how spam filter worked, but now that i do, I'll be very careful with what i put into my e-mail.

Jul 27, 2008 01:35 AM #11
Jon Wnoroski
America's 1st Choice RH Realty Co., Inc. - Green, OH
Summit County Realtor

Thank you for your post.  That's great advice and warrants further research.  I am working on building a data base of email subscribers who give permissin to receive my email newsletter in advance in order to avoid spamming.  I will ask them to include my email in their address book and give them an opportunity to "opt out" at any point in time.

I am also researching mass email programs that will send out individual emails automatically instead of having to send out "mass emails" to multiple recipients.  I am looking for a program that will give me feedback on whether or not the mail was opened, etc.

As a Realtor, I do want to respect the privacy of my clients and potential clients and can least afford to upset people that I could have an opportunity to work with in the future.

Jul 27, 2008 01:47 AM #12
Deborah Fisher
Fisher & Company, P.A., Marketing & Creative Strategists - Fort Worth, TX

Thank you, Elizabeth, for taking the time to comment. 

Amazing how many of those phrases we use in our emails. Watch out for CAP and BOLD letter, red letters and more.  Take a look at Email Marketing: Have We Killed the Golden Goose - Part 1 and Have we Killed the Golden Goose Part II - Improving Your Open Rate for more tips and info that may be of help you to.

Hope all of your ecampaigns are successful ones!

Jul 27, 2008 01:52 AM #13
Deborah Fisher
Fisher & Company, P.A., Marketing & Creative Strategists - Fort Worth, TX

Thanks for your comments, Jon. 

Personalization is one of the keys to improving your emarketing results, and you might also want to think about making your messages targeted to different segments of your listbased on their needs.  If you keep your content relevant to your prospects, they are less likely to unsubscribe.  I posted some tips to help you get better results in Email Marketing: Have We Killed the Golden Goose - Parts I and Parts II - Improving Your Open Rate. 

Hopefully these posts will give you a few ideas to help you produce better results.  While emarketing can be relatively inexpensive, we are using valuable time that would be better spent elsewhere if we don't take the necessary steps to make sure they get opened.

Happy marketing!

Jul 27, 2008 02:27 AM #14
Danny Thornton
R & D Art - Knoxville, TN
WordPress Guru

Deborah, this is great. I think so many times we in this business send emails and find that they just end up in someones spam box and they never read them.

Jul 27, 2008 05:54 AM #15
Deborah Fisher
Fisher & Company, P.A., Marketing & Creative Strategists - Fort Worth, TX

Thanks, Danny.  You're right.  We need to work at creating a message that will get past the SPAM blockers and then interest the reader enough to get them to open it.   


Jul 27, 2008 06:00 AM #16
Morgan Evans
Douglas Elliman Real Estate - Manhattan, NY

Thats quite a list, fortunately I don't think I use too many of those words too often emailing new customers and clients. 

Nov 28, 2008 11:14 AM #25
Not Yet Licensed

Oh no!  Now even Joke of the Day is bad?!  What if I send an email that says Can't Live Without my Joke of the Day?  :)

Nov 29, 2008 06:59 AM #29
Karen Ann Martin
Safe Harbor Realty - Westport, MA
Realtor Fall River Westport MA Real Estate Agent

 thank you so much  I cannot believe how many of those I had in my

Automatic Signature Files

Nov 30, 2008 08:16 AM #32
Brenda Harmon
Century 21 Beal, Inc College Station, Texas - College Station, TX


It's getting to where you can't say anything. :)

Dec 04, 2008 02:07 PM #45
Deborah Fisher
Fisher & Company, P.A., Marketing & Creative Strategists - Fort Worth, TX

Homes for Sale: It is very frustrating to believe that we have crafted the perfect (!) message only to have the egods send us into SPAMblivion.  Keep your list up to date, be sure to get permission before sending stuff, and immediately after the customer has registered with you send them a confirmation by email telling them how often you will likely be in contact with them, what type of content you will be sending them, and then asking them to add you to their address book.

Good luck with your marketing efforts,


Dec 29, 2008 01:23 PM #46
Deborah Fisher
Fisher & Company, P.A., Marketing & Creative Strategists - Fort Worth, TX

Brenda: ain't it the truth! 

Dec 29, 2008 01:23 PM #47
Deborah Fisher
Fisher & Company, P.A., Marketing & Creative Strategists - Fort Worth, TX

Morgan: Interesting. You are clearly ahead of the game.   Quite a few of those terms appear daily in my spam box from Realtors.  Everyone is trying to get me to open their email by teasing me with special offers, price reductions, save big, why pay more, etc. The egods send them into SPAMblivian and the sender has totally wasted their time, money and efforts.

Dec 29, 2008 01:28 PM #48
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