How to Protect Your Email Program From Spam Traps
Spam traps are addresses set up to catch email marketers who follow poor list acquisition and hygiene methods. They come in two flavors: true and recycled traps. A true trap is an email address created by an internet service provider or blacklist owner; they don't sign the address up to receive any marketing messages. True traps exist to catch spammers that acquire addresses through nefarious methods like harvesting. A recycled trap is an abandoned email address that an ISP uses to catch mailers who aren’t following good list hygiene practices.
Spam traps can cause major deliverability problems, namely being blacklisted or blocked by an ISP. Return Path’s most recent reputation study shows that having just one spam trap on your list could drop your Sender Score, an indication of your trustworthiness ranging from zero to 100, to 80 or below and cause your inbox deliverability rate to plunge 38 percent. The good news is that spam traps are avoidable.
To avoid true spam traps, you should do the following:
1. Avoid third-party email address acquisitions. Purchasing email lists is a surefire way to acquire an email address, not to mention all the other deliverability problems it creates.
2. Have a strong opt-in permission policy. The only way to completely avoid true traps is to use a double opt-in method, which isn’t ideal for most email marketers because of their low conversion rates. Instead, you can employ a two-page sign-up form, require subscribers to perform an action like checking a box or send a welcome letter from a dedicated IP address and isolate new data that registers from a spam trap.
To avoid recycled spam traps, try the following:
1. Permanently suppress unknown users. An unknown user is a type of hard bounce that communicates that the email address doesn’t exist. Unknown users shouldn’t be retried. Most mail servers today process unknown users correctly, but if you’re using an open source or homegrown system, it’s wise to verify that unknown users are being properly identified and suppressed.