A spam trap, sometimes referred to as a honeypot, will appear to be a real email address that belongs to a real person, but it isn't. Spam traps don't belong to an individual and are not used for outbound communication. Since spam trap addresses never opt-in to receive emails, any inbound messages would flag the sender as a spammer. Not maintaining healthy lists or not abiding by the rules of permission-based email marketing is the only way a spam trap email could end up on your email lists.
Spam traps are commonly used by internet service providers (ISPs) and blacklist providers (i.e. Composite Blocking, SpamCop) to catch malicious senders, but quite often, legitimate senders with poor data hygiene or acquisition practices end up on the radar as well.
Pristine spam traps... often collected by web scrapers... can be the most dangerous because ISPs regard sending to them as abusive
Have you ever misspelled “Google” in your web browsers location bar, but it still took you directly to Google.com? Have you sent out an email to “Gmial” or “Comxast”? This is where typo traps come from. They are real email addresses with domain misspellings that do not bounce. Typo traps are the most common types of spam traps. ISPs watch these spam traps to get an insight into a senders’ list practices. Hitting a typo spam trap once is expected. However, if your messages are repeatedly hitting a typo trap, the ISP knows that you are not using double opt-in for email acquisition. Typo traps are there to catch senders who don’t confirm opt-ins and don’t keep a clean email list. ISPs will see this as evidence of abusive practices. When sending an email, a best practice is to send a confirmation email and immediately suppress that email address if they don’t confirm.
Remember that email address you had in high school that you no longer use? There is a good chance an ISP has reactivated it to see what brands are still sending messages to it. This is called a grey or recycled trap. Recycled traps don’t turn into recycled traps until after they hard bounce, so when using a list from an affiliate, make sure to grab their suppression list as well. That way you can avoid sending to addresses that have already hard bounced. It’s important to be in control of your lists from opt-ins to hard bounces and unsubscribes. Remember, once an address is a spam trap, it doesn’t hard bounce any more. Purchased lists are often riddled with old addresses that have become spam traps. To avoid recycled spam traps, permanently suppress hard bounces, segment out unengaged users, and don’t use email lists if you are unsure if they were collected with good opt-in practices.
Once an email address becomes a recycled spam trap, it doesn’t hard bounce any more. Purchased lists are riddled with old addresses that have become spam traps
ISPs and blacklist providers consider sending emails to users who don’t expect your email to be an abusive email marketing practice. This is where pristine spam traps come in. ISPs or blacklist provider create email addresses that are made publically accessible in forum posts or blog posts so web scrapers can find and collect them. Unfortunately, many email lists available for purchase are provided by web scapers. To protect their customers and catch potential spammers, ISPs will filter and possibly block senders who get caught sending to pristine spam traps. This type of spam trap is the most dangerous as there is no way an ethical email marketer who practices double opt-in will ever encounter them.
A less well known spam trap is the domain trap. Instead of an address being used as a trap, every email address for that domain will be a spam trap. In this instance, blacklist providers would openly request owners of dormant domains to point their MX records to the blacklist provider. When an MX record for a dormant domain is pointed to a blacklist provider, it makes all email addresses associated with the domain a spam trap.
Send email newsletters regularly and more often. Also perform re-engagement campaigns on a regular basis. Monitor your open rates and if any recipient hasn’t opened your email marketing materials in some time, it’s best to send them a re-engagement campaign to ask if they still wish to remain on your mailing list. If you notice your emails to them being bounced, unsubscribe them immediately.
When an MX record for a dormant domain is pointed to a blacklist provider, it makes all email addresses associated with the domain a spam trap
When buying a list, you may not be aware if the list has been collected properly. There is a reasonable chance you are buying a list riddled with spam traps. Don’t take that risk.
By using double opt-in, you can make sure that a particular email address belongs to a real person. Double opt-ins signify a higher level of user interest by adding a step to the email subscription opt-in process, requiring a user to verify their desire to be added to your mailing list. This is a powerful way to catch typos and fake email addresses that could be spam traps.
NOTE: While double opt-in is a good industry practice, please remember that recipients who may have opted-in to your list at one point may become inactive later on. If an email address is inactive for some time, their address may be converted to recycled/grey traps. List segmentation is recommended when you come up against these kinds of accounts.
Using an email validation tool, like ZeroBounce on your enrollment page to catch typos and non- existing email addresses before they make it to your mailing list, ensures a clean and healthy list.
Your sender reputation will tell you whether or not your messages have been hitting any spam traps. While these are essential tools, they do not provide a complete picture. Email providers take a lot of metrics into consideration to determine your sender reputation including spam complaints, sending to unknown users, being listed in industry blacklists, and more.
While some blogs and email marketers stress the importance of open rates, you may be missing the larger picture. Email open rates are often the first metric you see when you log into your email marketing platform and a lot of marketers measure the effectiveness of their marketing using it. What a lot of marketers are just not aware of is that every HTML based email contains an invisible 1px by 1px image that must be loaded in order for the email to be tracked as an open. If your recipients simply read your subject line, have html disabled, or block images, your email is not considered or counted open. If, for example, your list contains 1000 email addresses but your open rate is 20%, would you dump 800 legitimately obtained address? Of course you wouldn’t.
Using an email validation tool, like ZeroBounce ensures a clean and healthy list...
We have outlined some email marketing best practices in this article:
Following email marketing best practices can be hard in the beginning but getting labeled a spammer or an abusive sender can put a hard stop on your revenue and could significantly harm your business. Ultimately, it's always in your best interest to try and adhere to the concepts outlined in this article. If you're ready to begin cleaning your contacts, try us for free! And if your business requires more direct interactions, our Enterprise Success Team will be happy to assist.Get Started For Free