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Are your spam trap senses tingling?

spam traps

Do you think you’re falling victim to a spam trap? Here’s how you can tell and what to do about it.

“I have a buzzing in my logic circuits that tells me we’ve been led into some kind of trap.” Those were the words of Optimus Prime in the 1984 version of The Transformers.

They might also be the same words you whisper when you look at your email deliverability stats. 

The trap that was set is known as a spam trap, or sometimes as a honeypot. Anti-spam organizations and ISPS (among others) use them to both identify and monitor spam emails.

And the worst part is that you don’t even have to be a spammer to fall for their lures. 

There are three common kinds of spam traps out there. Today, we’ll explain to you what they are and how to detect and avoid them at all costs. 

What are these spam traps that you speak of?

As I mentioned earlier, there are three main types of spam traps. None of them are “good,” but one of them is really, really bad. 

  1. Pristine Spam Traps
  2. Recycled Spam Traps
  3. Emails With Typos

Pristine spam traps are the absolute worst, and you will be punished if one makes it on your list. These spam traps are email addresses that were created by ISPs and other organizations, and they have never been used by a sender. 

Once they create these “pristine” email addresses, they’ll embed them in websites, just waiting for someone to “scrape” them, add them to an email list and then start sending them. They find their way onto your list when you use less-than-savory methods of growing your list. We’ll talk more about that in just a moment. 

As soon as one is spotted in your contact list, it can lead to your IP address or your domain getting red-flagged. 

On the other hand, recycled spam traps didn’t start out as spam traps. They were once a valid address. But over time, they stopped being used and found new life by becoming spam traps. This is why it’s so crucial to scrub your email lists regularly

While recycled spam traps may not get your IP or domain instantly red-flagged, over time, they absolutely will damage your sending reputation. 

Finally, emails with typos may sound pretty innocent. But just like recycled spam traps, they can still do damage to your sending reputation. You may never know how or when that email typo will suddenly get recruited as a spam trap. That’s why you should make every effort to find and correct those typos in your contact list. 

What do all of these spam traps have in common?

Aside from damaging your sending reputation, each of these three common spam traps has one thing in common: they’re signs of sender negligence. 

Which means that these are totally preventable mistakes.

Two of the easiest ways to let spam traps sneak into your list is by buying or renting an email list. If you’re guilty of either, the safest thing you can do is stop NOW!

Spam traps can also dirty up your list if you utilize the black hat tactic of “scaping” email addresses from websites using automated tools or programs. 

They can also get a foot in the door out of sheer laziness. If you aren’t regularly cleaning your lists or using re-engagement campaigns to resurrect zombie contacts, spam traps are the price you’ll have to pay.

While these “solutions” seem like fast and easy ways to grow your list, the truth is that they’ll do way more harm than good in both the short and long run. Instead, you should try doing this to grow your list quickly without shooting yourself in the foot

How can I avoid spam traps?

There are two simple ways that you can avoid letting spam traps infiltrate your list. The first is to validate your email addresses. Email validation means that you verify that an address is valid and deliverable before it even makes it to your contact list. A number of Email Service Providers offer validation services as a basic feature. If not, there are a host of email validation services out there (ranging from free to pricey) that will get the job done. 

The second reliable strategy is the double opt-in. Double opt-ins add in an additional step in between the act of subscribing and receiving their first editorial or marketing email. Once they provide their email address, they’ll then receive a confirmation email that they must interact with in order to “seal the deal.” Only after they’ve completed this step will their email address be introduced into your list and start receiving emails. 

You can settle for just one of these solutions, but if you’re losing sleep over spam traps, using a one-two punch is the safest strategy. 

What if I’ve already fallen into a spam trap?

If you think spam traps have made it onto your list, there are services out there that can help you find them and remove them. But they aren’t free (or even cheap.) And none of them are guaranteed to find every single spam trap you might have picked up along the way. 

Stay tuned for Today’s Hack a little further down, where we’ll address a trial-and-error method for finding and quarantining spam traps without having to push pause on your email marketing in the process. 

The Knowledge Base

Powerful communication is a two-way street. Don’t miss these 7 simple ways to make your emails interactive

We all make mistakes. This is how the Air Force survived a reply-all apocalypse

What’s the rush? 29 things you need to check before you push send

Is your content missing the mark? 10 signs your copy has gone horribly wrong

Are you giving your readers the buzzword blues? 10 business and marketing expressions the whole world hates

Survey Says

Last week, we asked if you guys were using A/B split testing in your email marketing department. The results are in, and 100% of you said that you are:

Split testing survey results

And while this is better than last week’s goose egg, there still weren’t a whole lot of responses. This leads us to this week’s survey…

Is it time to replace the Survey Says segment?

From day one, we’ve committed to building Inbox Hacking around what you want most. And if there’s something else you’d rather see in this slot, we’d love to hear about it. And deliver it. So, be sure to weigh in and let us know if it’s time for some change in this weekly segment.

Facts & Stats

  • 40% of B2B marketers claim that email newsletters are the most important tactic in their content marketing strategy
  • Segmented email campaigns show 50% higher CTR than untargeted campaigns
  • Marketers who send segmented campaigns notice a 760% increase in revenue

Today’s Hack

Spam traps happen. It’s what you do after they attack that matters. Here are eight ways to find and remove spam traps that may have infiltrated your list, brought to you by the pros at Validity.