Spam Traps


Written by: Sheryll Chua

What are Spam Traps

Spam traps are email addresses used by Internet service providers (ISPs) to determine if senders are adding recipients to their mailing lists without permission.

ISPs use spam traps to help make the Internet a safer place by preventing undesirable content from ending up in a recipient’s inbox.

Spam Traps and Domain Reputation

Hitting a spam trap is harmful to sender domain reputation and puts the domain at risk of being added to anInternet service provider's (ISP) third-party blacklist. ISPs block email traffic from domains and IPs on their blacklist, meaning that even your engaged recipients are at risk of not receiving your emails. Due to this risk, it is of utmost importance to ensure you are only sending emails to engaged recipients.

Spam traps fall into three categorizations: pristine, recycled, or typo.

Pristine Spam Traps

Pristine spam traps are email addresses created for the sole purpose of identifying spammers. These email addresses have never been associated with a real person, and therefore they have never opted in to receive email marketing from any company.

Pristine spam traps are placed on the Internet where they can be accessed by web crawlers. If you have a pristine spam trap on your mailing list, it was obtained illegitimately and, if sent to, will cause harm to your domain reputation.

Recycled Spam Traps

Recycled spam traps are reclaimed email addresses that have been out of active circulation for a period of time. As these email addresses are not active or tied to an actual individual, any email correspondence that lands in these inboxes was sent without the permission of the recipient.

Hitting a recycled spam trap is typically a symptom of sending to an old list that has not been actively managed to adjust for recipient engagement. You can protect your domain reputation by making sure to clean your list of recipients who have not engaged with your email marketing over a period of time.

Typo Spam Traps

Typo spam traps are email addresses that contain common typos, created to replicate email addresses that may have been recorded incorrectly. Examples include alex@gnail.com or alex@hootmail.com, as the domains used here are similar to popular email domains.

Typo spam traps are generally created when collecting email addresses at the point of sale. For example, when checking out at a department store, you may be asked for your email to sign up for a rewards program. An error occurs in data entry, and alex@aool.com is collected instead of alex@aol.com.

You can help avoid typo spam traps by using double opt-in for your email mailing lists. This ensures that email addresses collected will only be added to your mailing lists once a recipient clicks a confirmation email. As recipient addresses with typos will not receive the confirmation email, these potentially harmful addresses will be kept off of your mailing lists.

What to do when you hit a spam trap

Spam trap networks keep the email addresses of spam traps secret. SharpSpring are only provided limited information on the spam trap hit such as day, from domain and subject line. They are never provided the email addresses of spam traps. This is why it can be tricky to solve a spam trap problem once you have it.

However, as we do know that spam trap owners rarely open emails, one of the best methods to resolve a spam trap issue within mailing lists is to filter out spam trap addresses with contacts not opening emails.

You can do the following:

  • Unsubscribing anyone who is 6 months or older and have not opened a single email
  • Unsubscribing any contact who has been sent at least 5 emails and have not opened a single one.
  • Setting up a reconfirmation campaign, sending one further email to the contacts that did not open the email on the days the spam traps occurred, unsubscribing contacts that have not confirmed their subscription within 7 days.
  • You can also use a list cleaning service. Some list cleaning services may provide limited help with toxic addresses such as spam traps. While there is no particular service that can remove all harmful addresses, using one can help with an older list.