Spam traps are all over the internet, waiting for a slight mistake or a series of destructive behaviors to trigger, making email marketing more challenging for businesses. Yet some companies may still be unaware of them and keep failing their email deliverability.
Therefore, learning about spam traps is essential for email marketers who send bulk emails to customers. This article addresses major issues about email spam traps and provides tips for handling them.
What Is a Spam Trap?
Major Internet Service Providers (ISPs) and blacklist providers use spam traps as a fraud management tool to identify spammers and block their mailings. Spam trap email addresses look like real email addresses, but they don't belong to real people and can't be used to communicate.
Types of Spam Traps
Pristine Spam Trap
Pristine spam traps are email addresses that do not belong to real people and are created specifically for the purpose of spam tracking. They can be present on public websites but are usually hidden inside its code. The objective of pristine traps is to catch spammers who scrape websites for emails or buy contact lists.
If an ISP notices an entity sending to a pristine spam trap, it's a clear sign that the sender uses suspicious contact-gathering methods. Although all spam traps affect your sending reputation, the pristine spam trap effect is severe. When such spam traps are found in your contact list, your IP address or domain is likely to get blacklisted.
Recycled Spam Trap
Recycled spam traps are email addresses that once were valid and used by their owners. But later they were repurposed as a trap to expose senders who aren't managing their email marketing program properly.
You can still be a victim of this trap even if you have obtained permission for every email address on your list, especially when your mailing list is more than a year old.
Email with Typos
Emails containing common typing errors, such as "gnail" instead of "gmail" or "yaho" instead of "yahoo," can also be used as spam traps. Although it may be an unintentional error made by an individual while registering, it can still result in a spam trap hit.
Such spam traps are typos on the domain side of the address, which comes after the @ sign. You can also encounter one with a misspelled username, which comes before the @. Username typos can occur when collecting email addresses offline and later entering them into a database or when a customer misspells it over the phone.
Spam Trap Email Addresses and How to Avoid Them
The consequences of falling victim to a spam trap may differ. It depends on various factors such as the type of spam trap you trigger, the number of events, and how the spam trap operator handles such issues.
You can send re-engagement campaigns to subscribers to identify the active and dormant ones. To eliminate potential spam traps, remove subscribers who don't interact with your re-engagement campaigns.
How Do I Prevent a Spam Trap from Being Added to My List?
There are various ways spam traps can end up in your email list, but they all result from improper email list management and maintenance. Spam traps are avoidable by keeping a healthy contact list and adhering to email best practices.
1. Purchased Mailing Lists
Avoid purchasing lists; it's always a bad idea. These contacts never agreed to receive your company's emails. Using a purchased list almost guarantees you'll run into a spam trap, and the subscribers are not likely to be loyal to your brand. Therefore, they might mark your mail as spam or delete it without opening. These actions hurt your sender's reputation.
2. List Contamination
List contamination occurs when a wrong email address is added to a list, either on purpose or by accident. To avoid list contamination, check the spelling of the email addresses. You can also integrate email validation into your signup forms to ensure that email addresses are valid and typo-free.
It will greatly help if you use a "double opt-in" procedure for all subscribers. It allows recipients to confirm their email addresses before you begin sending them content, which guarantees that your list will contain only valid senders.
3. Old Emails
Another important strategy for avoiding spam traps is keeping your list current by removing subscribers who do not engage with your content. As mentioned earlier, spam traps sometimes use abandoned email addresses. Spam trap hits can happen if you send mail to an address that hasn't opened your messages for months.
How Do I Know if There is a Spam Trap on My List?
You know that your list probably contains spam traps when your IP address or domain gets blacklisted. Observe your delivery rates closely to ensure that a spam trap doesn't infect your lists. If your delivery rates are steadily declining (or even plummeting), it's also a sign that your list may contain spam traps.
For a comprehensive check of your contacts for spam traps, you may use tools such as 250ok Reputation.
How Do I Remove a Spam Trap?
When you suspect that your mailing list may contain a spam trap, it's time to perform some cleaning. Remove passive subscribers that haven't been engaging with your content for the past six months.
If you're still having problems, try using list segmentation. Separate clean list segments from the possibly suspicious ones, ensuring that they are spamtrap free. Continue narrowing the segmentation until you find the spam trap, then remove it to avoid bad reputation problems.