Blog Email Marketing and SMS

Spam Traps: What are they and how they affect your mailing

Category: Email Marketing

Imagen Spam Traps: What are they and how they affect your mai

Spam traps are email addresses used by Internet Service Providers to identify those senders that add email addresses to their lists without the consent of their owners.

Email to a spam trap is very damaging to your reputation as a sender and could cause problems to other users who send using the same IP/domain or the same email service provider (ESP) than you.

Types of spam traps

There are two types of spam traps:

The pure spam traps are accounts created by mail providers with the unique purpose of detecting spammers. They are accounts that should not receive emails, since they are not revealed to anyone and, if they receive emails, means that this is unwanted mail.

The recycled spam traps are accounts that existed at one time, but are not longer active and have been captured by mail providers for use them to detect unsolicited mail.  

The recycled spam traps are often generated from:

  • Typographical errors: When a user subscribes to a list using an email that contains a typographical error (for example, writes @ gnail.com instead of @ gmail.com) you run the risk that casually could be a spam trap. Domain typographical errors (after the @) are those that can most commonly be spam traps, although errors in the user name (before the @) can also be.
  • False directions: Registration forms on your website to participate in contests, download coupons or those that let you download free resources (for exemple a guide in pdf) etc. are very likely to be the gateway for spam traps. Many users invent their address and subscribe using addresses that do not exist and, unfortunately for you, may prove to be spam traps.
  • Dead domains: They are domains that existed at some point but have stopped servicing. It may be the case for example of an ISP has stopped servicing or has been renamed and therefore has changed the domain users accounts ... These domains can be recycled and become spam traps.
  • Generic addresses: Unlike personal email addresses linked to someone in particular, email addresses "role-based", commonly known as "generic" (as admin@, support@, contact@) are usually company email addresses , department or group. These directions are very common in the business sector, almost all companies have such accounts and some may be spam traps.

Consequences of having a spam trap on your list

If any of these accounts "spam trap" end up in your contact list is a serious problem that can have several consequences:

  • Your reputation as sender will be severely affected and will cause your mailing have a high rate of return (emails not delivered), thereby affecting your deliverability.
  • If the spam trap is an ISP such as Yahoo!, Gmail, Outlook.com ... can put your domain blacklisted forever.
  • The ESP's ip or your company’s ip will be blacklisted affecting not only your mailing but mailing from other users.
  • ISPs, to filter spam, consult various lists including anti-spam (eg Spamhaus) organizations’ lists. If the spam trap from your list belongs to an anti-spam organization this will make all ISPs consult this list does not allow you to deliver your mail to its users ever.

How to prevent a spam trap end up in your list

Below we explain you some best practices to help you keep your lists to avoid to include spam trap:

  1. Do not buy contact lists.Buy contacts is the most common way to end with spam tramps in your lists. Firstly because you do not know how old these addresses are and if they are still active or, otherwise, have gone on to become trap addresses. And secondly because, when you acquire purchased lists, you are adding to your list users who have not given their consent and are risking to tag your submissions as spam, besides being in breach of regulations on commercial communications.
  2. Be careful when you collect "offline" e-mail adresses: Typographical errors in email addresses (that we commented earlier), happen very often when emails are collected offline. When you get email addresses through brochures, business cards, telephone, etc. and then you enter manually to your database of contacts, you can go wrong when inserting or clients when they give it to you, and prove that they are a spam trap.
  3. Do not make generic addresses: Typically, you do not know the email address of a company and you assume they’ll have the account info@, domainname@ or similar and add it to your list. Do not make the mistake of including generic addresses in your lists if you do not have the certainty that they exist because they may be spam traps.
  4. Do not send emails to inactive subscribers: When it's been a long time during which certain subscribers have not had any interaction with your mailing is very likely because they have stopped using that email account and may end up being a spam trap. It is recommended that, if an address does not interact with your mailing within 30 days or 5 emails sent, you have to consider it as inactive and delete it or deactivate it from your list.
  5. Do not send mails to lists of old contacts. It is very important to keep your contact lists updated and only send emails to those subscribers who have had some contact in the last year. Why? Probably because many of them have changed or stopped using that account email and may have been recycled as spam trap as well, because if you've been so long without communicating with them is very likely that they have completely forgotten their subscription to your list and mark your mailing as spam.
  6. Take care of your contact lists. The best way to avoid spam traps is taking time to care and maintain your contact lists, keeping them clear of permanent returns, inactive subscribers, unsubscribed users.... Make your lists healthy and send your campaigns only to those users who have requested to receive them.


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