Getting email delivered is getting harder and harder with ISPs trying harder than ever to combat spam

If your email delivery and open rates are dwindling you may have serious issues that you are not aware which can include domain blacklisting and ISP blocking using spam traps and honeypot emails

You might be thinking this is not really realative to me because I am not a spammer and I don’t send spam but the first thing to understand is most marketers have delivery issues at some point and it’s the way you handle the issue that is all important

Do nothing and the issue will become a massive problem so the information below provided by will help understand the processes and what to do if, or when you find yourself on a blacklist or block List

The biggest issue is spam trap emails finding their way on to your list of subscribers, if your list is clean and does not include any spam trap emails the chances are your campaigns will be delivered and your domain reputation score will improve obviously providing you are not sending spam or adopting spam practices

What is a spam trap?

A spam trap is an email address that is used to identify spam email. It is also a type of honeypot because it uses a fake email address to bait spammers. Internet service providers (ISPs), antispam organizations, blocklist providers and corporations use spam traps to monitor and reduce the amount of spam traffic to their networks.

A spam trap uses filters to block certain email addresses that have a history of sending spam. The spam trap analyses all or part of the email address to identify it and decides whether or not to mark it as a spam-sending address.

Despite their objective of blocking spam email addresses, spam traps can unintentionally block legitimate, non spam email addresses as well, which can damage the sender's reputation and email deliverability. Spam traps can cause the sender's domain list or Internet Protocol (IP) address to be denied.

Types of spam traps

There are several types of spam traps, and they all work a little differently.

Pure spam traps,  also known as Pristine spam traps

These are email addresses created by ISPs and other organizations that have never been associated with a real person. These email addresses only exist to function as a spam trap. The email addresses are embedded into websites so that, when spammers scrape the sites to add to their mailing list of spam targets, they unknowingly pick up the trap as well. The administrator of the spam trap then watches to see which addresses email the trap. Those that email the trap are deemed to be spam and are blocked, or are more closely monitored, as they harvested that contact -- the trap's address -- in a suspicious manner, as opposed to asking for the address as a legitimate sender would do. A pure spam trap will damage the sender's reputation if an antispam organization finds it in the sender's contact email list.

Recycled spam traps.

These are often email addresses and domains that were at one time legitimate but have since been repurposed as spam trap addresses. Some common examples of repurposed addresses are role addresses, which might look like the following:

Email addresses of employees who no longer work for a company can also be used as recycled spam traps. The address still exists, but it is no longer used for its intended purpose. So, it gets recycled as a spam trap. The recycled spam trap is generally not as harmful to senders as the pure trap but still can cause damage over time. Unlike addresses designed specifically for trapping spam, recycled addresses have an element of legitimacy. They are more likely to attract legitimate traffic -- for example, those who previously corresponded with the owner of the address before it was recycled.

Typo spam traps. 

These are spam traps that, like recycled traps, aim to look legitimate. However, instead of recycling a legitimate address, they contain subtle typos, even though they are a different address. Examples include the following:

@gmil instead of @gmail

@yaho or @yah0o instead of @yahoo

@hotmal instead of @hotmail

Like recycled spam traps, these will not damage a sender's reputation as severely as pure traps but will signal antispam authorities over time.

How to identify spam traps

A spam trap has features that a normal user would typically notice and, as a result, would cause the user to cease correspondence. These include the following:

The address has typos in the domain.

The address was acquired through suspicious, illegitimate or uninvolved means, such as scraping or bulk list purchasing.

The address appears outdated or no longer valid.

To check if a spam trap is included in an email list, the sender of that list should check their email delivery rates.

 If delivery rates are dropping drastically, the sender's list may contain a spam trap.

 This is because spam traps do not respond to or conventionally read emails sent to them.

 Emails are sent to them but not registered as delivered. Also, the fact that the address does not respond damages a sender's reputation. There are tools senders can use to analyse their contact list for spam traps.

If senders believe they have a spam trap in their list, they can check to see if the email addresses are on an email blocklist. Some common IP or domain blocklists to check include the following:

Barracuda Reputation Block List (BRBL) antispam

SpamCop Blocking List (SCBL)

Blocklist tool vendors maintain and add to their blocklists. For example, SpamCop adds IP addresses reported by its user lists.

 Senders who suspect they are on SpamCop's list can check that list, but it is difficult to get an address removed from one of these lists.

How to avoid spam traps

The best way to avoid acquiring spam traps in a contact list is to practice good email management.

A poorly maintained email list could indicate a potential spammer and, therefore, attract a spam trap. A spam trap in the contact list will then worsen the sender's reputation by decreasing their email delivery rate.

Examples of sender behaviour’s that indicate poor email management include the following:

Does not seem aware of the addresses that it consistently emails;

Consistently emails addresses that a legitimate sender would not email;

Consistently acquires email addresses through suspicious means, such as scraping;

Goes long periods without sending mail to an address; and

Sends mail to an address that has not opened sender email for several months.

In order to avoid acquiring a spam trap, which would cause one to exhibit these bad sender behaviour’s, senders should follow email best practices. Some examples of email best practices include the following:

Best Practice for email marketing

Avoid purchasing contact lists. 

Purchased lists are likely to include spam trap addresses. They also are generally considered a poor way to accrue contacts, as even the legitimate users on those lists may have no interest in receiving what the sender plans to provide.

Use email validation on contact lists. 

Email validation can be incorporated in email signup forms that automatically check the legitimacy of the entered email addresses.

Include a double opt-in for subscribers. 

Recipients should have to confirm their email address before they begin receiving actual sender content. A double opt-in ensures that recipients actually want the sender's emails and verifies that the sender's list contains only legitimate addresses.

Keep contact lists up to date. 

Lists should be reviewed regularly to ensure all subscribers are engaging with the sender. Outdated email lists will appear to authorities as though the sender is sending spam.

 Reengagement campaigns can help senders engage with addresses they haven't emailed recently. If those don't work, it is best to remove addresses that are not engaging.

List Cleaning Services

You can find services online to clean your email lists and this is essential if you are lucky enough to be adding contacts daily/weekly because for many reasons not everyone that agrees to join your list wants to continue to receive your information

The process is quick and easy to complete

Simply download your list from your email autoresponder app and upload to the list cleaner service, companies we have used before but don’t have a commercial relationship with include Zero bounce and Never Bounce,  costs can vary based on the service provider and the numbers of subscribers you wish to clean but currently Zero bounce will clean 2000 contacts for $15 and this ensures you remove any spam trap emails and maintain and improve your sender score 

Practice permission-based email marketing. 

Spam is generally defined as emails or traffic that the recipient likely didn't consent to and almost definitely doesn't want. Gaining recipient permission before sending bulk marketing emails ensures that the recipient participated in and consented to the communication in some way.

I Hope the information above helps to identify a possible spam trap email and gives you the information to find and remove it

If you want to take your email marketing to the next level take a look at our advanced email and SMS autoresponder app

We include many advanced features normally only found in far more expensive monthly services, we provide automatic bounce processing which stops bad emails being bounced by the major ISPs and our list management includes detailed filters to sort lists in to active and inactive subscribers based on time limits, to see more details please click here


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