What are spam traps and how to avoid them?

What are spam traps and how to avoid them?

To find out more about spam traps, make sure you don’t get yourself into that list and what to do if by chance you are on the list.

If your email delivery success rate or sales rate has decreased gradually, then it could be possible that you have hit spam traps.

What are spam traps? How do they work?

It’s the work of ISP’s (Internet service providers) and mailbox providers like Hotmail, Gmail, and yahoo to protect their users from unwanted and uninvited emails. There are a variety of ways of doing it, one of them is by creating and using spam trap addresses, they do this in 2 different ways:

First Way:

They create fake email addresses like john@yourdomain.com or fred@yourdomain.com- they don’t use these email addresses to sign up for anything or don’t share these addresses with anyone.

Then these addresses get placed randomly on websites, online groups, forums, and in other places. These email addresses are now traps, waiting for someone to come along and see them proceed.

The marketers who search the internet and add these addresses to their lists, then send them to them are automatically classified as spammers that you’ve fallen into the trap of!

Second Way:

  • Mailbox or Internet service providers will use old email addresses that did belong to someone but for a while, have been abandoned by the user and then they recycle these email addresses by turning them into spam traps.

  • Then they wait for the senders to email those addresses even though they are not getting opened by the recipient, and then by that, the mailbox and Internet service providers can conclude that the sender is not using a quality list.

  • Spam traps are a clear indication that the sender is failing to justify good email marketing and list management practices.

Should I be concerned about spam traps?

Yes, if these email addresses are found to be a part of your contacts database and you send them to, then you’re likely to be identified as a spammer and must experience a lot of delivery issues. And if you’re sending from a verified domain, then it may become blacklisted.

Mailbox providers like Gmail, Yahoo, and Hotmail have several checks and filters that they use to determine whether the email you send is going to reach the inbox or not. These can include, but they are not limited to:

  • Opens and clicks, whether people are engaging with the emails you send, appear to want or expect the mail.

  • The number of complaints, or the people who simply mark the mail as “spam”.

  • Type of mails, format, spammy content, IP reputation, or whether the mail is coming from a verified domain or not.

  • Or has the sender hit any spam traps?

How to know if a spam trap is on your list or not? Or how to avoid spam traps?

If you think that you’re safe from spam traps, then you probably want to think that again. Spam trap addresses can become part of your list in several different ways:

- By purchasing a list, is something that most Email Service Providers will not support and will cause you a lot of delivery problems.

- By randomly collecting email addresses from websites, forums, comments sections or other open sources.

- By not ensuring that your subscribers have double-opted into your mail.

- By sending emails to old email addresses that are inactive.

- And if you are not working to keep your list clean and using good list management.

What do I do if I’ve already hit a spam trap? 

If you have already been sent to a spam trap, then it’s not good and it can be tricky to get your sender reputation back and delivery back up to speed. Most spam traps will not have opened any of your mails so the best way to start is by taking any address that has not opened your mail in the last 12 months and create a separate segment for those email addresses.

Then, you can send a confirmation mail to that segment of addresses to find out which of them want to continue to receive your emails. Any address that does not confirm should be immediately removed from your list.

Overall, preventing spam traps from becoming a part of your database in the first place is your best line of defense. You can do this:

  • By following good list management guidelines.

  • By tracking your subscriber’s actions. 

  • And by keeping your list up to date.

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