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Spam Traps: What You Need to Know

Mar 23, 2012   |   2 min read

Knowledge Center  ❯   Blog

One of the dangers email marketers face is that their lists may include spam traps – email addresses that cause a service provider or blacklist organization to flag their company’s email as spam.

Spam, as most of us know, are unsolicited email messages, typically sent out in large volumes by spam marketers, which are unwanted by the recipients. Unfortunately, emails sent by legitimate email marketers can also be tagged as spam when the wrong email addresses get on their lists.

In the cat-and-mouse game played between spammers and Internet service providers (ISPs, including email services like Gmail, AOL, Hotmail, etc.), the service providers have devised clever means to protect their customers from spam. Independent blacklist (or blocklist) organizations, such as SpamHaus, also track spam and provide publicly available lists of IP addresses and domains that are widely used by ISPs to block email.

Among the most effective means of catching and blocking spam is the spam trap, which is an unpublished email address set up to intercept unsolicited messages. If these addresses get on your email list, it can cause you to be flagged as a spammer and negatively affect your reputation.

You can acquire an unpublished or abandoned email address unknowingly in a number of ways, including normal business operations. Sometimes an email address of a customer is abandoned, and, typically after at least a year, these “dead” email addresses can be picked up by ISPs and used for spam traps. Email lists that are acquired may contain bad email addresses, and sometimes people or competitors purposely submit bad email addresses.

Blacklists and ISPs track whether emails originating from your organization are received by their spam traps. For some blacklists, a single email can cause you to be listed and your email blocked. Others will track the quantity and type of emails before deciding to blacklist you. Once you are on a public or private blacklist, your messages may be partially or fully blocked.

ISPs increasingly rely on a sender’s reputation to determine which email messages get through, and a study by Return Path found that sender reputation was the culprit in 77% of delivery problems.

The best way to keep your reputation in good standing is to keep bad emails off your list. You can do this is by identifying them at the point of entry on your website through a real-time email validation service and as part of a regular email hygiene routine.

Mailing to a clean email list will not only help keep your reputation high and prevent your legitimate emails from being blocked, it will improve your marketing results by enabling you to reach more prospects and customers.

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