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What is a Spam Trap and How to Avoid Them
What is a Spam Trap and How to Avoid Them

Learn what spam traps are and why it’s important to remove them from your email list.

Nicolas Vibert avatar
Written by Nicolas Vibert
Updated over a week ago

Having a spam trap on your email list will negatively affect your email deliverability, meaning that email you send to subscribers will start going to their spam folders and in some cases, not being delivered at all. This even applies to subscribers you opted into your email marketing the proper way and have been engaging with your emails in the past. 

As this is something that should be avoided at all costs, it’s important to understand what spam traps are, how they can end up in your email list, how you can avoid them, and what to do if you end up with a spam trap on your list. 

What are Spam Traps?

Spam traps are simply email addresses that inbox service providers such as Gmail, Hotmail, Yahoo, etc. use to identify spammers. 

There are three types of spam traps:

  • Email addresses that were once active but have not been used for a very long time. That is, the owner has not logged into their account to check emails or use their email account to sign up for other lists. 

  • Misspelt email addresses such as [email protected] instead of [email protected].

  • Pristine spam traps. These are email addresses that have been deliberately created with the purpose of catching spammers. Nobody will ever signup to receive emails using these addresses and they most commonly appear on bought email lists. 

If you are sending to any of these types of addresses (especially pristine traps), there’s a high chance that inbox service providers will flag you as a spammer. 

How Spam Traps can Appear on your Email List

While spam traps frequently appear on the email lists of spammers, occasionally they can appear on the email lists of legitimate senders too. 

 There are several ways this can occur:

  • Not obtaining proper permission to send marketing emails

  • Migrating to a new email service provider (such as SmartrMail) and not unsubscribing those who unsubscribed with your previous email service provider(s)

  • Sending to unengaged subscribers  

  • Not honoring unsubscribe requests

  • Misspellings when adding email addresses

  • Purchasing email addresses

How to Avoid Spam Traps

To minimize the risk of spam traps appearing on your email list, it’s important to only email subscribers who have properly opted into receiving emails. 

It is also important to follow our email list requirements

Buying lists and adding people to your list who have not agreed to receive marketing emails are not only against laws including CAN-SPAM and the GDPR, but also drastically increase the chances of spam traps appearing on your list. 

However, even when you follow all the rules, spam traps can still appear occasionally. Especially as your list grows and ages.

This is why it’s important to regularly clean your email list especially if you notice your open rates starting to drop. 

To be extra safe, you might want to require double opt-in when people sign up to your email list. This will prevent issues with misspelt email addresses and ensure everyone on your list actively opted in. 

What if a Spam Trap Appears on your List?

SmartrMail actively keeps track of the deliverability of all our users, so if we detect an issue with your list that’s due to a spam trap, we will let you know and give you instructions on what to do next. 

This will typically involve having to clean your list so that you’re only sending to engaged subscribers. 

If you suspect you have a spam trap after cleaning your list, contact our support team and we can guide you through what needs to be done. 

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