5 words & phrases that marketers must never use

7th Sep 2017

Consumer confidence in the UK has lapsed to levels last seen in the immediate aftermath of the 2016 referendum result. With little to guarantee any sustained improvement, marketers need to ensure they are not just ‘keeping the wheel turning’. Going forward campaigns must act as a foundation for business revenue.

Email marketing is still among the most popular and effective ways brands can engage consumers and Mailjet research recently discovered that email is the communication channel most people think we will still be using in ten years’ time. However, one of the biggest challenges for direct marketers is ensuring that their email outreach isn’t ending up in the spam folder. It’s an obvious barrier, but also one that is least well addressed.

Over the past few years, we’ve seen ISPs get smarter and move away from more traditional spam alarms. Nowadays, the focus is on user engagement, both positive and negative. ISPs learn from how we interact with the messages that arrive in our inbox, which helps them determine whether emails should go to the Spam folder or land safely in our inbox.

What this means for markers is their performance today entirely determines the deliverability of campaigns in the future.

The words marketers should run a mile from

So why are we still talking about the language used in subject lines? Put simply, where the words we use in our communications are misleading, open rates fall and complaint reports rise. These two indicators now have a dramatic effect on the sender reputation.

Just imagine how many times you have received a subject line that includes the word “Free”. How many times has there actually been something that’s truly free in the email? Probably very few, which explains why now, when you read the word “Free” in your inbox, you generally just roll your eyes at a not-so-subtle attempt to get you to open a deceiving email.

Of course, there are plenty more linguistic pitfalls waiting for the uninitiated marketer, so without further ado, here are some of the common words and phrases that are red flags to the recipient and likely causes of sender demotion.

  • Urgency or desperation – We have all received at least one ‘damsel in distress’ or ‘urgent help’ email. A distant relative you didn’t know existed asking for you to send them money urgently to help them, or a prosperous person from a land far far away offering you a huge lump sum as long as you share your bank details ASAP. Using wording that alludes to financial gain, lending money or transferring funds immediately is certain to raise suspicion. Unless you have already got great rapport with the recipient, try to avoid directing them ‘quickly’ to ‘urgent’ sales.

  • Invoice – Marketers should do everything in their power to avoid ever using the word ‘invoice’ in a subject line. Whilst this is a massive spam trigger, it is also a cybercrime favourite. Phishing emails often include the word ‘invoice’ to try and bait users into reading their email and then encourage them to click on a phishing link that can easily lead to a hack. Unfortunately scammers will try and profit out of users carelessness and this has repercussions for marketing emails.

  • Bank names – Criminals regularly impersonate banks and send emails closely following their formats and using company names to get users to have faith that they are legitimate. They often link back to mirrored sites that ask for personal details, meaning emails that include financial institutions names like ‘PayPal’, ‘MasterCard’ or ‘Visa’ often end up in the junk folder, so marketers should try to avoid including these sorts of details in emails.

  • Gambling or betting – Brand messages that contain words such as ‘casino’, ‘bet’ or ‘deposit bonus’ are highly likely to head into the spam folder. Gambling spammers often send out enticing messages that promise high return, free entry or double deposits and if it isn’t a website users recognise then it will realistically go into the spam folder, affecting the deliverability of future messages that might include gambling references. Probably one to avoid unless you are actually a gambling or betting company…

  • Gifts or competition wins – Scammers are still using the ‘dear friend’ tactic to get into hundreds of thousands of people’s inboxes. Meaning if you use words such as ‘gift’, ‘present’, ‘lottery’ or ‘specially for you’ in the wrong context, you could heighten your chances of missing the inbox altogether and wasting resources behind outreach as these types of scams are quick and easy to send so are still one of the most popular.

Data quality, selective targeting and a proper sending cadence are the main keys to strong deliverability. So unless you’re sending something highly inappropriate or terrible, words alone won’t necessarily damage your sender reputation. If you’re targeting the right people with engaging content at the right frequency, you should have no problem hitting the inbox.

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