WHAT ARE SPAM TRAPS AND HOW TO AVOID THEM?
Did you know that 20 percent of your emails may never reach your subscriber’s inbox?
After all the work you put into your campaign—design, subject line, call-to-actions—some of your customers won’t ever see your email.
As we’ve preached here before, lower delivery rates is a challenge almost every email marketer will face. And while many reasons affect your deliverability rate, spam traps are unique.
What Are Spam Traps?
Ok, don’t panic. The term “Spam Traps” doesn’t have to be as bad as it sounds. It’s not something that will randomly—or maliciously—appear and ruin your email marketing forever.
Spam traps are used by inbox providers—like Gmail, Yahoo, etc.—to catch spammers or senders with poor sending practices.
A spam trap is an email that doesn’t belong to a real person but is instead used by Email Service Providers (ESPs) to catch senders with poor email practices. They look like real email addresses but are on email lists companies can buy (don’t do that).
However, sometimes legitimate senders, like you, can end up on the spam trap radar if you don’t practice proper email hygiene.
Spam traps are useful to the consumer, but they need to be weeded out from an email marketer’s perspective.
What to Do with Spam Trap Email Addresses on Your List
Odds are you’re sending emails to a spam-trap address without even knowing it.
Fortunately for you, sending a few emails to that address is nothing to worry about. Spam traps are all about finding senders who spam and don’t clean their email lists.
These senders muddy up the email community and cause email fatigue. This affects you in turn because, in a perfect world, people would receive emails for things that they care about, but as we all know, people get emails for things they don’t care about all the time.
So, if you continue to send emails to spam traps, it’s an indicator that you’re using lousy email practices and you can eventually be put onto a blacklist of some kind or be labeled a spammer.
Being labeled as such ruins your email reputation which can render your email marketing campaign ineffective.
So, the next logical question is how did that spam trap end up on your list in the first place?
How Did a Spam Trap Get on My Email List?
Let’s first focus on the types of spam traps that are out there. This will help us better understand how a spam trap got on your list in the first place.
Here are some of the most common spam traps:
These emails were previously used by real people. They were abandoned and are now being recycled by the ESP.
Did you know that once an email is not being used, ESPs will deactivate them? Here’s how some of the most common inbox providers handle inactivity:
So, if a subscriber of yours hasn’t responded or interacted with any of your emails in quite some time, it’s best practice just to remove them from your list entirely.
Otherwise sending an email to an address that’s been removed by an ESP will result in a hard bounce.
There are many signs that the email address should have been removed before the hard bounce had the chance to occur, but getting multiple hard bounces from continually sending emails to inactive addresses results in being labeled a spammer.
Therefore, using these inactive addresses as spam traps is the ESPs response to senders with poor hygiene. After a while, the inactive address will no longers return a hard bounce response but instead will become a spam trap that labels senders to this address as malicious.
Keeping bounced email addresses is a surefire way to fall into a recycled spam trap, so always clean your bounced email list regularly.
Another way to fall into a recycled spam trap is by actually not emailing. What? Yes, sending an email to a subscriber you haven’t mailed in quite some time can mean you never received the bounce that they were deactivated.
It’s best practice to find the happy medium in how often you email your subscribers, even if you’ve done such a fantastic job of segmentation trying not to fatigue them.
Again, this isn’t your fault. Blame the senders out there who are just trying to spam.
If you fall into a pristine trap, it’s likely that you’re doing some shady email practices. A pristine spam trap address is typically found on public websites and the only people who would gather them are people who are using shady collection practices (e.g., scraping sites for email addresses).
If you do this, or worse, buy email lists, there’s a good chance you picked up a spam trap address.
The Answer is an Email Validation
There’s not a public site that has a database of spam trap addresses as these are added and removed with such frequency, that it would be almost impossible to keep track of.
However, managing best email hygiene practices is a surefire way to weed out spam-trap addresses without them ever harming you.
But the problem isn’t with identifying spam traps in your existing email list. The problem lies with how they got there in the first place.
Be sure you’re always validating new email addresses on your enrollment page to make sure you’re catching typos and non-existing emails in the first place.
Using a double-opt-in method also verifies that you’re sending to a real person because spam rarely traps if ever, respond to the double-opt-in process.
For the case, spam filters also play a key role.
And, please, as we’ve repeatedly mentioned—never buy an email list.
Spam traps will typically appear in your recent sign-ups or your oldest inactive segments, so making sure you’re using organic acquisition practices and keeping up to date with your email hygiene will almost guarantee you won’t get caught in a spam trap.