Avoiding Spam Traps


Spam Traps are honeypot addresses created or repurposed by mailbox providers to assess the list management practices of the email senders. Spam Traps addresses are valid and hence emails will be delivered to them. But they never engage with the emails.

The main purpose of spam traps is to catch spammers or senders with poor list management [user collection, list hygiene, sunsetting].

There are three types of traps:

  • Pristine traps are used to flag sends who send unsolicited emails as these users are specifically created as traps and never sign up or engage with emails.
  • Recycled traps are used to flag senders who do not maintain list hygiene. Recycled traps are older email addresses that were converted into traps by Mailbox Providers after they were abandoned by the users and bounced for a while.
  • Typo traps are used to flag senders who do not maintain list hygiene. Typo traps are typos on major domains like gail.com, yaho.com, or homail.com. Email senders who implement confirmed opt-in and sunset inactive users should not hit these.

Reasons for Spam Traps Getting into the List

Spam traps never sign up for emails or engage with emails. They can get into your email list in several ways. A few of these are:

  • If you collect users via questionable means like purchasing lists, social media scraping, etc - anything sort of explicit signup, you have a high chance of hitting traps.
  • If you do not permanently suppress users who have bounced, you are likely to hit recycled traps. Usually, while changing vendors, if you do not suppress previous suppressed users, they might get into your list.
  • If you do not sunset unengaged users, the traps in your list will continue to grow.

Impact of Hitting Spam Traps

Senders who follow list management best practices should not hit spam traps. Hence, senders who hit spam traps consistently can be perceived as spammers.

Emails from your IP/domain might be rejected or rate-limited or they could be sent to spam. Your overall domain and IP reputation will decrease. Essentially, in varying degrees, the impact could be:

  • Delayed delivery (emails being rate-limited and deferred).
  • Low delivery (emails being soft bounced)
  • Low engagement (emails might be sent to spam)
  • Drop in the domain and IP reputation.

Preventive Measures to Avoid Spam Traps

To prevent spam traps from getting into DB and to avoid that number from growing, follow the below list management best practices.

  • Make sure user collection methods are clean.
  • Suppress hard bounces immediately. Make sure these remain suppressed even while you are migrating to a different vendor.
  • Sunset inactive users after 9 months of inactivity. Permanently, suppress them from emails.

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