Bob Bly Direct Response Copywriter Official Banner

What, Me Worry About Spam Filters?

December 18th, 2006 by Bob Bly

In the 1960s, Mad Magazine spokesperson Alfred E. Neumann made famous the saying: “What, me worry?”

In the 21st century, one of the things e-marketers worry about is e-mail deliverability.

Some e-mail marketers devote large amounts of time, attention, and money to making sure there e-mail marketing messages are not blocked by spam filters and other mechanisms interfering with deliverability.

Their reasoning is that if an e-mail isn’t delivered, it doesn’t get opened, read, or responded to.

But some of the e-mails they product are so sterile … and look so odd (e.g., “f-r-e-e instead of “free”) … they have (to me) little impact.

On the other hand, some e-mail marketers just write the strongest copy possible — as if they are saying “spam filters be damned!”

Which school are you in?

Do you worry about spam filters and content filters when composing e-mail marketing messages?

Or do you ignore all the “rules” of e-mail deliverability and still get great click through rates and sales?


This entry was posted on Monday, December 18th, 2006 at 8:44 am and is filed under Online Marketing. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

51 responses about “What, Me Worry About Spam Filters?”

  1. Sean Woodruff said:

    I focus on writing communications for the people who read the e-mail. Some of it doesn’t get delivered but the messages that do are more effective that way.

    The funny thing is that even the people that write for deliverability get filtered. They may end up with less filtering but a less effective message delivered to the reader.

    I write to communicate.

  2. Dianna Huff said:

    I am working with a spam filtering company. It’s not only words that trigger filters, it’s the IP address, images, use of caps, and all sorts of other things.

    I write copy that doesn’t use obvious filter triggers ie: “free.” But it’s weird what does trip them up. Two newsletters ago I wrote about telemarketing scripts. I thought for sure I would have to remove all instances of “telemarketing.” Instead, I ended up changing “phone” to “telephone” and “script” to “call guide.” Script and phone were filter triggers!

  3. Mordechai (Morty) Schiller said:

    I just wrote a comment… and it got blocked as spam! Oh what a world….

  4. Mordechai (Morty) Schiller said:

    Caught by a spam filter

    I just wrote a comment to a post on Bob Bly’s blog: What, Me Worry About Spam Filters? Bob asked about what copywriters are doing to deal with spam filters. My answer is below. You won’t see it on Bob’s blog, though…. It got stopped….

  5. Michael Stelzner said:

    Hey Bob;

    First, write a great message / newsletter.

    THEN, run it through a filter to see if it has objectionable material.

    I DO change the word free to some other word.


    Because I want people to get my message.

    If there were a bouncer at the door and he hated red hats, you can bet I would take off my hat to get in the door.


  6. Bob Bly said:

    Mike: If you are giving away a free white paper, how do you say “send for our free white paper”? BTW, I’ve seen tests of free vs. no mention of free where free increased response 25%. Think about it this way: if the spam filter depresses response 25%, but the use of “free” lifts it 50%, the net result is a 25% lift.

  7. Michael A. Stelzner said:

    Hey Bob;

    Here is my trick.

    I use images. YEP.

    You can say anything in a graphic and it gets past the filters.

    To see a sample, check out one of my newsletters here:

    FYI, I never say “free white paper” because they are all free.


  8. Jonathan Kantor said:


    I think the answer lies in the mistaken use of email as the primary medium for marketing. I think we have become too dependent on its use. For example, my Outlook client will sometimes send messages to the spam or junk mail folder that I have previously designated as approved.

    Instead, the use of both conventional approaches (such as direct mail) and online sources (email, blogs, SEO) will provide a hedge against those instances where a critical message gets mistakenly sent to a spam folder.

  9. Sean Woodruff said:

    Mike, if you are trying to sell a red hat, how would you do that if you took off the hat to make the bouncer happy? Wouldn’t that be the same as an offer that is free and you omit the word free?

  10. Bob Bly said:

    Jonathan: Most direct marketers who are making a lot of money online use email as their primary medium. They build a large opt-in e-mail subscriber list, then constantly send e-mail marketing messages with offers to that list. Example:

  11. Jim Logan said:

    I tend to break the rules and write for humans. And I suffer from it. A short story…

    I tried to giveaway a gift to a random subscriber of my list – an appreciation for subscribing. Since the person I randomly selected was on my list, I sent an email congratulating the subscriber on having been randomly selected, thanked her for her loyalty, and offered my gift as thanks. I asked her to send me a mailing address to deliver my gift…five attempts later, I still had no response. Come to find out, my email messages were all sent straight to the dreaded Bulk Mail folder.

    It’s near impossible to offer something for free.

  12. Sean Woodruff said:

    The irony of the trackback in spot #12 is laugh-out-loud funny.

  13. Michael A. Stelzner said:

    Sean – Come on. Think about it.

    The goal is to get in the club, not sell the hat.

    You never sell the word free, you use it to get in the door.


  14. Bob Bly said:

    Mike: good idea for HTML, but of course it won’t work for those of us who use text-only emails. And text emails are blocked less than html.

  15. Jim Logan said:

    Bob: good point on the text versus HTML email. Do you (or anyone else reading this) know of any stats on 1) the ability of text email to get past SPAM filers as opposed to HTML – and – 2) the difference in reader response of text versus HTML email?

  16. Michael Stelzner said:


    Here is your research on which is better:

    Also, check this pros and cons article out:


  17. Bob Bly said:

    If you have a text e-zine, send text e-mail marketing messages only. Your list will reject HTML as spam.

  18. Mary Schmidt said:

    Bob & Co,

    Some believe that email as a marketing method is rapidly becoming obsolete, replaced by RSS feeds. Of course, it depends on the target and their preference and technical sophistication (Hard to believe for many, but I still get questions about how RSS works.)

    Oh, and Bob – you should check your spam filter on your blog – you’ve got spam comments on several of your posts.

  19. Bob Bly said:

    Mary: the spam filters simply do not catch all the spam. Which one do you use? Also, did you know that only 2% of Internet users subscribe to RSS feeds?

  20. Andrew Cavanagh said:

    I get some of the highest click through rates from email in the industry (sometimes over 70%).

    There’s no simple answer to this question.

    I would say that you’re far less likely to trip off spam filters if you concentrate on relatively short emails that send your prospects to a site with your full message.

    Having said that when you presell your clients in your emails you can have astonishing sales conversions on your online sales page. (20%+ with a good list)

    But you risk a much lower click through rate and a much higher percentage of your emails getting eaten by spam filters.

    Smart marketers realize that there’s benefits both ways so they send out two different kinds of emails…one that won’t trigger spam filters and one that might but is more likely to make sales.

    Either way you need to be familiar with the words and phrases that spam filters look for and use other alternatives if possible.

    Getting too many of your emails labeled as spam can get you blacklisted with Internet Service Providers and then the emails you get delivered will drop drastically.

    Kindest regards,
    Andrew Cavanagh

  21. tube said:

    work’s done the way it must be..! ^^

  22. transex said:

    Interfaccia comoda, colori piacevoli, buoni!

  23. eva henger said:

    Guter Aufstellungsort, ja!

  24. julodsaew said: bollywood hot video for mobile

  25. julporeta said:

    charming nymphets
    chech child porn
    chil 6 year bbs lolitas

  26. TopeRirephile said:

    If anyone of you guys and gals are into myspace, heres a nice resource site I found while surfing the net
    __________________ – myspace resources

  27. marketing schemes said:

    Hello! Do you know if they make any plugins to safeguard against hackers?
    I’m kinda paranoid about losing everything I’ve worked hard
    on. Any recommendations?

  28. said:

  29. hyponidd said:


  30. Introvertstory said:

    Amazing Thoughts…..

  31. SKY LINE SMS said:

    It is awesome informative post, keep sharing and one again thank for valuable details of marketing services.

  32. Corwin said:

    puppies for sale,pug puppies for sale in oregon,pug puppies for sale in az,pug puppies for sale in va,pug puppies near mepugs for sale,pug puppies for sale,pugs for sale near me,cheap pugs for sale,pug puppies for sale near me teacup pug [ We breed with exception. We are engaged in the breeding of Pug puppy for sale, which is the most desired bulky puppy. During manh other pets.pugs for sale,pugs for sale near me,cheap pugs for sale,pug puppies for sale,pug puppies for sale near me.

  33. robert said:

  34. Ayesha Khan said:

    Thanks for sharing this content. Filters are one of the best ways to enhance your business.

  35. Ndure Shoes said:

    Ndure offers their customers the highest quality children’s Tracksuits of all types, including both tracksuits for boys and girl’s tracksuits. Get the best available Tracksuits for boys in Pakistan. Ndure brings the best Tracksuits for Kids online So, buy high quality tracksuits for boys.

    Ndure offers their customers the highest quality children’s Tracksuits of all types, including both boys tracksuits and girls tracksuits. Get the best available Tracksuits for grils in Pakistan. Ndure brings the best Tracksuits for Kids online. So, buy high-quality tracksuits for girls.

  36. sakebi8856 said:

    Lowes Customer Satisfaction Survey is designed to get customers feedback, reviews, and suggestions that help them improve on their products and services.

    The survey basically wants to know what customers think of their products and how happy clients are with their general customer services.

  37. ShopECS said:

    ECS is top shoes brands in Pakistan. Check out ECS shoes collection online.

  38. numberle said:

    One way to reduce spam is to use a spam filter like Gmail or Outlook. These tools can quickly scan incoming emails for keywords 5 letter words that indicate a message may be spam and alert you when there is a problem. Another way to reduce spam numberle is to use a service like Spamcop or Mailguard which can automatically check incoming emails for suspicious patterns or methods and then block them if necessary.

  39. cladder said:

    If the cladder word is higher, they must move it down by one place. The aim is to move all of your cards one place higher than your opponent.

  40. Borjan Shoes said:

    Shop a wide range of women shoes, women heels, women court shoes, women peep toes, women boot, women sport shoes and many more Shoes for women online in Pakistan.

  41. Rios Cosmetics said:

    Stunning best perfumes for men and perfume brands for men are offered by Rios, a great multi brand store The shop satisfies customers with the best perfumes for men in Pakistan Their best perfumes for men are perfect for your needs, fulfilling your demands With their perfumes for men, Rios meets all your requirements.

  42. Alexpeter said:

    Our career coaches have decades of experience and have taken thousands of interviews across different industries – so you’ll be in AMAZINGGG hands for your Interview Tips

  43. Shanewotson said:

    Thermoplastic Striping Houston helps manage the space properly and directs the inflow and outflow of the traffic.

  44. Rivaj UK said:

    Rivaj sells amazing cosmetics and related products like makeup brush kit and the best makeup brushes So grab the best makeup brushes today and enjoy. Their makeup brushes are truly unbeatable and offer a high degree of satisfaction. Rivaj offers the best makeup brushes price in Pakistan to their customers daily.

  45. Flormar Cosmetics said:

    Shop flormar lipsticks shades for girls & ladies online in Pakistan from Online branded Lipsticks shades and colors in Pakistan at reasonable prices with fast delivery.

  46. Murphy Family Mover said:

    Looking for services for office relocation St Charles Il or need IT equipment relocation services in St Charles IL? Murphy Family Mover’s aim is to move you hassle-free. Book your moving time now.

  47. shaypari said:

    Advance Fitness by Bilal Brothers, established in 1979, is the leader in exercise, fitness, gymnasium and indoor sport equipment all over Pakistan. We work only with the world’s top brands and are proud to serve our customers with top-notch after sales service.

  48. carls12 said:

    java software architect will be seeing designs through from start to finish incorporating everything from technology to the solution, assurance, governance, and security. You will need to be client-facing and be able to make complex designs seem simple to customers.

  49. ash12 said:

    Affordable Flights by FlightsnTravel give you the best travel time with your partner

  50. robert12 said:

    Sought After SEO service helps in increasing brand visibility on the web. If you have a stunning website but the potential customer is unable to locate you on the web then it is useless. Nexo Designs offer sought-after SEO service that can improve your website ranking organically on google result and drive more traffic to your website.

  51. Pinterest Virtual Assistant said:

    How do you get more followers on Pinterest? You use a virtual assistant to help you manage your pins and boards.

Leave a Reply