Why Is This in My Inbox? Deconstructing the Worst Spam Email of All Time


What is spam email and why is it called that way

Spam in general means any unsolicited emails or text messages which are sent out to a large number of recipients. It is usually aimed at promoting or advertising questionable products or services, but the worst thing is that spam emails are quite often infected with malware.

Spamming has reached incredible scales. According to Statista, the record high volume of spamming was estimated in July 2021 with 282.93 billion of junk emails. It makes more than 84% of a total amount of emails sent across the globe. The activity of spammers increased due to COVID-19 pandemic as well. Now it reaches an unbelievable 90% of the world’s email traffic.


How to Stop Spam in Outlook

Step 1

Open outlook.com and sign in to your Outlook account with your login credentials.

Step 2

Select the message(s) you want to tag as junk or block from your inbox.

  • To Mark as Junk
    • At the top of the screen, select Junk > Junk (or Spam Spam) to move the message to your Junk or Spam folder. (See following screenshot.)
  • Or, to Block from Your Inbox
    • From the top toolbar, select Junk > Block (or Spam Block). (See following screenshot.)
    • Select OK.

The messages you select will be deleted and all future messages will be blocked from your mailbox.

How to prevent spam emails

Here are some proven methods to nip all scammers’ attempts in the bud.

Create another email address

Business in the front, spam in the back. Use one address purely for communications with colleagues, partners, and organizations, while the other one address is for collecting promotional emails, offers, confirmation emails, and so on. The latter will be useful for registering and subscribing, online purchases. This method ensures that promo emails are separated from your business-related conversations.

Help algorithms by reporting spam and indicating legit emails

Check your spam folder at least once a week. Anti-spam tools are not yet perfect, so even real emails end up there sometimes. Most anti-spam tools use machine learning to recognize spam. You help them learn when you mark spam as spam and indicate real emails sent to your spam folder by mistake.

Do not reveal your email address on social media

…unless it’s necessary.

We all use social media and promo sites to communicate with friends and customers and attract attention to our work, so there is no point in keeping your contacts completely out of sight. But if there are other ways to reach out to you available, such as DMs on Instagram, you may want to only give your email address to a narrow circle of people.

Find out who shares or sells your email address

Gmail allows you to receive email addressed to any variation of your email address following a plus sign following your user name. For example, username+website@gmail.com, where “website” is the name of whatever website you’re signing up for. It looks like this:

Add a tag to your address when you sign up on a ne
Add a tag to your address when you sign up on a new website to track any future emails

The text following your address will remind you where these emails are from originally. Unfortunately, not every website will recognize a plus sign as a valid character.

Never interact with spam emails

Do not respond, click any links, or open any content within an unsolicited email. Ideally, do not even open the email. They may contain a tracking pixel that will notify scammers that your address is both active and monitored. Luckily for us, most email clients block images in spam emails by default.

You can recognize spam at first glance: it comes from suspicious addresses, has tacky subject lines, and includes tons of superfluous exclamation marks.

Avoid emails from suspicious addresses
Avoid emails from suspicious addresses

What happens if you have a poor email domain reputation? 😔

If you have a poor email domain reputation your emails are going to go straight to spam!

In fact:

77% of most email deliverability issues are a result of a bad domain reputation.

What’s more, if more and more of your emails go to spam, they are likely to stay there. This is because no one is going to be interacting with your emails if they go directly to junk.And it’s not just spam, often your emails won’t even be delivered at all. Olivia says:

“A poor domain will start making its way into the respective spam filters over time and emails will no longer land in the recipient’s inbox. You may find that you are landing in one spam filter but not the other, as mailbox providers filter them differently using unique algorithms.”

And if it gets too bad, it can be incredibly difficult to recover from.

You can try to change your IP address and your content, but since your domain is scored via your sending history and the behaviour of your recipients, it won’t do any good.  

“It’s important to stay on top of this though and investigate the blacklist to see if it’s going to be damaging or not. You can check your domain and IP respectively using different websites such as MXToolbox.” – Marianne


The spam folder is a problem for all the parties involved: a user, a business, and an email marketer. Fraud victims lose money or get their computers infected; clients receive no information about you since your emails end up as spam. Moreover, there can be serious consequences: domain disconnection, lawsuits and fines.

First, think of your own digital security and beware of spammers:

  • Think before you click
  • Share your email address carefully
  • Report spam and never reply to it
  • Double-check the suspicious information to avoid spoofing and phishing attacks

At the same time, every company’s email has a chance to be labeled as spam. But it doesn’t mean that you should give up: follow our tips to do everything right. Check out these factors:

  • The legality of the mailing
  • Domain reputation
  • Technical settings of the mailing list
  • Compliance with the mailing service rules

Dont Give Your Email Address to Just Anyone

One of the main ways you get spam emails is by using your email to register for freebies or when you sign up with a site to download content online. Doing this allows websites to hold your email address and send you emails anytime they want. So, you might want to think twice about entering your email address when you see that online sale next time.

Websites can then sell your email addresses to other companies. These companies are then free to email you advertisements, newsletters, and other unwanted material. This is why you might receive spam emails from companies you’ve never heard of.

Therefore, you should be cautious when you give out your email address, no matter what the purpose is. So, if a new cake shop in your area is offering free samples in exchange for personal information, you might want to skip the email address box.

188 spam words and phrases to avoid in your email marketing

With all of the above in mind, here’s the list of spam words.

Avoid spam words that make exaggerated claims and promises

  1. #1
  2. 100% more
  3. 100% free
  4. 100% satisfied
  5. Additional income
  6. Be your own boss
  7. Best price
  8. Big bucks
  9. Billion
  10. Cash bonus
  11. Cents on the dollar
  12. Consolidate debt
  13. Double your cash
  14. Double your income
  15. Earn extra cash
  16. Earn money
  17. Eliminate bad credit
  18. Extra cash
  19. Extra income
  20. Expect to earn
  21. Fast cash
  22. Financial freedom
  23. Free access
  24. Free consultation
  25. Free gift
  26. Free hosting
  27. Free info
  28. Free investment
  29. Free membership
  30. Free money
  31. Free preview
  32. Free quote
  33. Free trial
  34. Full refund
  35. Get out of debt
  36. Get paid
  37. Giveaway
  38. Guaranteed
  39. Increase sales
  40. Increase traffic
  41. Incredible deal
  42. Lower rates
  43. Lowest price
  44. Make money
  45. Million dollars
  46. Miracle
  47. Money back
  48. Once in a lifetime
  49. One time
  50. Pennies a day
  51. Potential earnings
  52. Prize
  53. Promise
  54. Pure profit
  55. Risk-free
  56. Satisfaction guaranteed
  57. Save big money
  58. Save up to
  59. Special promotion

Avoid spam words that create unnecessary urgency and pressure

  1. Act now
  2. Apply now
  3. Become a member
  4. Call now
  5. Click below
  6. Click here
  7. Get it now
  8. Do it today
  9. Don’t delete
  10. Exclusive deal
  11. Get started now
  12. Important information regarding
  13. Information you requested
  14. Instant
  15. Limited time
  16. New customers only
  17. Order now
  18. Please read
  19. See for yourself
  20. Sign up free
  21. Take action
  22. This won’t last
  23. Urgent
  24. What are you waiting for?
  25. While supplies last
  26. Will not believe your eyes
  27. Winner
  28. Winning
  29. You are a winner
  30. You have been selected

Avoid spam words that look like shady, spammy, or unethical behavior

  1. Bulk email
  2. Buy direct
  3. Cancel at any time
  4. Check or money order
  5. Congratulations
  6. Confidentiality
  7. Cures
  8. Dear friend
  9. Direct email
  10. Direct marketing
  11. Hidden charges
  12. Human growth hormone
  13. Internet marketing
  14. Lose weight
  15. Mass email
  16. Meet singles
  17. Multi-level marketing
  18. No catch
  19. No cost
  20. No credit check
  21. No fees
  22. No gimmick
  23. No hidden costs
  24. No hidden fees
  25. No interest
  26. No investment
  27. No obligation
  28. No purchase necessary
  29. No questions asked
  30. No strings attached
  31. Not junk
  32. Notspam
  33. Obligation
  34. Passwords
  35. Requires initial investment
  36. Social security number
  37. This isn’t a scam
  38. This isn’t junk
  39. This isn’t spam
  40. Undisclosed
  41. Unsecured credit
  42. Unsecured debt
  43. Unsolicited
  44. Valium
  45. Viagra
  46. Vicodin
  47. We hate spam
  48. Weight loss
  49. Xanax

Avoid spam words that are jargon or legalese (and everything else)

  1. Accept credit cards
  2. Ad
  3. All new
  4. As seen on
  5. Bargain
  6. Beneficiary
  7. Billing
  8. Bonus
  9. Cards accepted
  10. Cash
  11. Certified
  12. Cheap
  13. Claims
  14. Clearance
  15. Compare rates
  16. Credit card offers
  17. Deal
  18. Debt
  19. Discount
  20. Fantastic
  21. In accordance with laws
  22. Income
  23. Investment
  24. Join millions
  25. Lifetime
  26. Loans
  27. Luxury
  28. Marketing solution
  29. Message contains
  30. Mortgage rates
  31. Name brand
  32. Offer
  33. Online marketing
  34. Opt in
  35. Pre-approved
  36. Quote
  37. Rates
  38. Refinance
  39. Removal
  40. Reserves the right
  41. Score
  42. Search engine
  43. Sent in compliance
  44. Subject to…
  45. Terms and conditions
  46. Trial
  47. Unlimited
  48. Warranty
  49. Web traffic
  50. Work from home

Email Spam Statistics Around the World

8. The United States ranks first among the worst countries for spam

Spam is certainly not a localized issue, but certain countries have it worse than others. In terms of live, ongoing spam issues, recipients in the U.S. have more to worry about than anyone.

Here’s a ranked list of which countries have the most live spam issues ongoing:

  • United States
  • China
  • Russian Federation
  • Ukraine
  • Japan
  • United Kingdom
  • India
  • Hong Kong
  • Turkey
  • Brazil


9. There are 3402 live spam issues in the US

Though the exact number is in constant flux, there were 3402 live spam issues in the United States as of January 18, 2018, according to the SBL database.

10. The United States is home to 7 of the world’s top 10 spammers

Not only is the U.S. the most spam-enabling country in the world, it’s also home to seven of the ten worst spammers in the world.

Of the top ten spammers around the world:

  • 7 are from the United States
  • 2 are from the Ukraine
  • 1 is from Russia

11. 80% of all spam in North America and Europe is sent by the same 100 spam gangs

The 100 most active spam operations comprise of around 200-300 individuals who are responsible for the bulk of all spam emails sent around the world. Spamhaus’ Register of Known Spam Operations (ROKSO) documents the names, aliases, and other details of the operations run by these so-called “spam gangs.”

How can you improve your email domain reputation?📤

Your domain reputation can be tough to restore.

“If a domain is landing in spam, improving the reputation takes time and patience. The process may be easier depending on the service provider you are using, as well as the spam filters you are landing in.” – Olivia

Pause all your outgoing email campaigns and start investigating. If you can discover why, you can start the long journey to fixing it:

Get out of spam

Start off by sending a few emails to trusted sources. Ask them to reply to your mail or mark it as not spam. Continue doing this until your reputation goes back to normal.

Clean your lists

Has someone asked to unsubscribe? By law, you have to unsubscribe them. Then remove anyone who doesn’t respond to your emails and anyone with a soft or hard bounce.

Check your domain

Make sure the domain authentication is set-up correctly. SPF (Sender Policy Framework) is the most important as this confirms you are who you say you are. DKIM and DMARC are also important but require some time and effort and a knowledgeable team to set-up.

Start small

Don’t send out massive amounts of emails all at once. Start small and slowly increase the volume over time. (Especially if you have a new domain. New domains are already fishy, so start even smaller!)

Target interested buyers

Mass emailing prospects who don’t fit your TAM isn’t going to get you anywhere in B2B sales and will only get you marked as spam. Best practice is to segment your audience and only target those who you feel could benefit or truly want what you’re selling.

Avoid shared IPs

If you can get a dedicated IP address, fantastic! It will avoid you experiencing the repercussions of other people’s mistakes.

However, this isn’t a great option for anyone who sends less than 10k emails a day. If this is the case, make sure your email service provider is following all guidelines to maintain the reputation of the shared IP address pool.

Refine your content

Avoid anything that comes across as spammy in your email content. This includes: words in all caps, multiple exclamation points, buzzwords like ‘free’, ‘win’, cash’etc. and long subject lines.

Furthermore, your email should always include the option to opt-out.

Check feedback loops

If your email doesn’t make it to an inbox, you can check why via the feedback loop that most email providers supply. This way you can find out what the problem is and fix it before it ruins your email domain reputation.

How to prevent email from going to spam: Use spam checkers or spam filters testing

What is a spam checker or a spam filter test?

Even if you follow all of the above best practices, inevitably you may have missed something, or even more likely is that there might be something going on that you could have never caught with the naked eye. In fact, 70% of emails show at least one spam-related issue that could impact deliverability.

That’s why it’s so important to run spam tests to check the potential of your email being delivered to both the ISP and the ultimate inbox.

Unlike your naked eye, or even your picky colleagues’ eye, a spam test reviews your email to determine whether different spam filters will flag it and keep it out of inboxes.The test looks at everything from the content of your email, subject lines, where you are sending it from, and your domains reputation. To use our bouncer analogy from before, it’s like showing up hours before the evening gets started to have your bouncer pre-approve you for access. It might not always work but it certainly gives you some assurances you didn’t have before.

How do I run a spam test?

If you’re using an Email Service Provider like Mailjet to send emails, then your best bet is something called a seed list. A seed list is a list of internal emails you can send a test email to, such as co-workers, family members or friends.

Ideally, you’ll want the email address to cover a range of email clients and devices, so you can check if it makes it through the different email spam filters.

Using Mailjet, before you send your email to the masses, you can send a test email that not only tests for spam filters (like Gmail spam filters) but also is a great way to test for email responsiveness in different clients. To best use seed lists though, there are many services designed just for this purpose such as Litmus, Email on Acid, and many more.

Each of these tools will provide you with a seed list of email addresses that you can cut and paste into your test email and send out to identify any issues with landing in the inbox. Spam testers will test for the following flags:

  • Email Server Reputation
  • Sender Email Address
  • Sender IP address
  • Email Server Configuration
  • Email Content and Subject Line
  • IP Blacklisting

As examples, both Email on Acid and Litmus are email optimization tools which include a spam filter test. Using any spam tester, alongside Mailjet, you can test your emails using the following easy step-by-step process:

  • Create your email and of course first check for any red flags in the content, subject line, and contact list
  • Once you think you’re ready to send, click on Send a Test Email
  • In your Spam Testing tool, select Start a New Spam Test or Start Spam Test
  • Copy and Paste all of the seed contacts that Litmus generates into Mailjet
  • Send your test email
  • Go back to your Spam Test Tool to identify any spam warnings and understand how you can continue to optimize your campaign to ensure maximum deliverability.

These services will send your emails through all the major spam filters before sending to make sure that they pass the first test.

Then it will check your sender reputation by looking at your IP addresses and any domain names used in your email.

There are many known blacklists and if your reputation is at all compromised or flagged, you’ll get a notification before sending.Next it will verify that your email authentication, such as DKIM, DomainKeys, SenderID, and Sender Policy Framework, is set up properly.

Finally, some services even provide you with a spam score, so you can compare your campaigns against past campaigns and your colleagues campaigns. The root of all happiness? Quantifiable competition.

Want to know more about how to get your emails delivered to the inbox? Check out our Email Growth Playbook, a database of 60+ tactics to help you increase the performance of your email campaigns.