How to Find And Avoid Spam Trap Emails
Melissa IN Team | Email Verification, India |
The risk of falling into a spam trap is probably your marketing team’s biggest fear when sending cold emails. Spam traps are valid, deliverable email addresses that are hard to identify. They look like any normal email address but are used exclusively to ‘trap’ unwanted emails.
Having spam traps on your mailing list is usually the result of poor data hygiene. The consequences can range from lowered email deliverability rates to having the whole domain blacklisted. Here are a few things you need to know about spam traps and how to avoid them.
What Are Spam Traps?
Spam traps are email addresses used by blacklist providers and internet service providers (ISPs) to lure spammers and thus identify and block them. They are a necessary tool in the fight against fraud but legitimate email senders may get caught in these traps if they do not maintain good mailing list hygiene.
Types Of Spam Traps
There are 2 main types of spam traps; pure spam traps and recycled email spam traps.
- Pure Spam Traps
These are fake email addresses set up purely to receive unwanted emails. These emails have never been used by anyone to sign up for accounts, opt to receive newsletters, etc. They may be listed on forum posts and blogs to make them visible to web scrapers.
The only way they can end up on a mailing list is if they were obtained without permission. Bulk mailing lists for sale often include such spam traps.
- Recycled Email Spam Traps
Recycled email spam traps refer to old email addresses that are no longer in use by the original user. They now function as traps to block unwanted emails. For example, when Adam leaves the company, his email address, firstname.lastname@example.org may be left active to function as a spam trap.
In other cases, mail servers may turn off addresses that are unused for 12 months or more and later switch them back on as spam traps. These are also known as dead address traps and can be used by major ISPs to identify spam senders.
Email addresses with typographic errors may also be considered spam traps. Most commonly, these are email addresses with errors after the ‘@’ symbol. For example, email@example.com could be a spam trap.
How Can You Avoid Spam Traps
Though they were set up to catch malicious emailers, even legitimate email marketers can get caught in spam traps. Getting caught in a such trap damages your brand reputation and skews campaign results. Deploying the below practices can help safeguard your mailing list.
- Validate All Email Addresses
Before any email address is added to your mailing list, it must be verified and validated. There are a number of email verification tools that can help with this. The email addresses must be checked to see that they are complete, accurate and free from syntactical errors.
Verification also checks that the email addresses are in use and not categorized as catch-all and role-based accounts.
Mailing lists should also be validated before every email campaign. Email databases decay at a rate of about 22.5% annually. By validating mailing lists before you send out a campaign, outdated and unused email addresses can be identified and removed thus minimizing the risk of falling prey to recycled email spam traps.
- Implement Double Opt-In Processes
Having the recipient’s permission to be included on a mailing list is critical to maintaining a good sender reputation. To minimize the risk of falling into spam traps, use a double opt-in method for email subscribers.
Here, subscribers are sent a confirmation email with a link during the sign-up process. By clicking on the link, they confirm their willingness to receive emails and validate their email addresses. This ensures that real individuals are added to your mailing list and generates more user interest.
- Maintain Up-To-Date Mailing Lists
Diligent marketing teams will work on constantly validating and updating their mailing lists. The trouble in such cases is when an old mailing list is used for an email campaign.
To keep this from happening, maintain a central database with a golden record for every customer/subscriber. Outdated data must be not only removed from the mailing list but deleted fully from your CRM.
- Track Open Rates
Open rates are an important email marketing metric. It not only gives you information about the attractiveness of the subject line and subscriber’s interest but also helps identify possible spam traps. If emails sent over a long period of time are not being opened, there’s a high chance of the email address being unused.
Though the individual may have initially opted to receive marketing content, since they are no longer using the email account, emails sent to this account may be automatically categorized as spam.
Such email addresses must be removed from mailing lists.
- Scrub Inactive Contacts
Practising permission-based email marketing is the best way to avoid spam traps. If email campaign metrics show that a subscriber has not engaged with emails over a certain number of campaigns or months, send out an email asking them to reconfirm their subscription. If you receive no response, discard the contact. Similarly, if an email bounces back, discard the email address immediately.
A mailing list that appears spotless may not necessarily be as clean as you assume. Remember, spam traps often look and act like valid email addresses. The only way to protect your sender reputation and avoid them is by diligently working on cleaning, verifying and updating your mailing list. Every effort you make will go a long way in reaping the benefits of email marketing.