Spam traps are email addresses created or reactivated with the sole purpose of identifying spammers. They are used by various bodies including ISPs and Anti-Spam organizations so that they can easily identify senders who send to recipients that have not given permission for them to do so.
There are two kinds of Spam Traps in use, both of which are designed to do the same thing: make sure that only permission-based content is sent.
Spam trap types
The type of Spam Trap is defined by the type of email address that is used:
- Pristine Spam Traps
- Recycled Spam Traps
Pristine Spam Traps are brand new addresses which have never been used for anything, so the owner can guarantee that it’s never been used to sign up for any content. This means that anything arriving in this kind of trap will be very easy to identify as Spam (exceptions could include misspelled email addresses, or fake addresses used to bypass a registration page that happen to match the spam trap’s address).
Recycled Spam Traps are old addresses which have been abandoned by the users, and then reactivated after a certain period of inactivity. These traps are excellent at highlighting bad practices by marketers such as poor list hygiene, as well as spam, typos or fakes.
What happens when mail reaches a spam trap?
Depending on the types of spam traps and the number hits, you may suffer a drop in sender reputation or an immediate block of your emails being accepted.
If this happens you should:
- Review your sign-up processes to ensure invalid email addresses are blocked before they end up on your list.
- Review your existing data and remove your oldest and least active contacts.
What if you send to a spam trap?
The Emarsys Deliverability Team will initially get in touch to advise that there is an issue with your contact list. You will then have your list hygiene practices assessed, and be expected to prove when your contact opted-in to receiving your emails.
Depending on the state of the contact list, you will be expected to send a repermissioning campaign to see if the recipients still want to receive your content, and if no reply is received the contact(s) must be removed from your lists.
What can be done to avoid spam traps?
- Add validation to prevent typos.
- Add capcha to prevent bot sign-ups.
- Add hidden form fields that a person cannot see which can also prevent bot sign-ups.
- Use a Double Opt-In process, or email address confirmation process to validate sign-ups.
- Introduce a data lifecycle to your contact data with three elements:
- identify and remove recently-added contacts which are likely to have been invalid/incorrect at the point of collection,
- perform re-engagement on defecting contacts who used to be active, but are no longer active, and
- delete your oldest and least active contacts. The timescales for this will depend on your industry, product and customer lifecycle.