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Spam Traps: Definition and how to avoid them ? (2023)

damien ceo mailreach
David Chastanet
Email Deliverability Expert

In this article, we will delve into the world of spam traps, the different types, and the various ways email marketers can avoid falling into this trap.

Identifying, Finding, & Avoiding Spam Traps Effectively in 2023

The prevalence of information and familiarity with the internet has meant that the global spam volume has decreased quite a bit over the years. However, even in 2023, the volume is alarmingly high. A global survey at year-end 2022 showed that more than 48% of all email addresses are still classified as spam. 

This can adversely impact your email marketing ventures. While not all the emails in the spam folder in recipients’ Gmail, Yahoo, Outlook, or other platforms are dangerous, many may still lead you to spam traps. 

This online threat occurs when marketers purchase an email list from information collectors or collect emails from the web. Having said that, many hackers and other individuals still employ this practice. In this article, we will take a closer look at what a spam trap is, its types, ways you could fall into a spam trap, and the best way to avoid them.

What does a spam trap mean? Definition

A spam trap is an email address created and maintained to identify and catch spammers. It is typically an email address not actively used by a person but rather set up by email service providers, anti-spam organizations, or internet service providers.

Types of spam traps

There are two types of spam traps:

  1. Pristine Spam Traps: Pristine Spam Traps are email addresses that have never been used by any person and are created solely to catch spammers who send unsolicited emails to harvested email lists or contact list.
  2. Recycled Spam Traps: Recycled Spam traps represent email addresses previously owned by individuals but have since been abandoned or closed. These email addresses are then repurposed by anti-spam organizations as spam traps to catch senders who continue to send emails to inactive email addresses.

If an email marketer sends an email to such spam trap addresses, it indicates that they may have acquired the email address through illegal or unethical means, such as scraping websites, purchasing email lists, or sending emails to people who have not permitted to receive them. 

This can result in the sender being listed in blocklists (such as Spamhaus Zen, UCEPROTECTL2, UCEPROTECTL3) by anti-spam organizations or email service providers and facing consequences, such as having their emails blocked or being unable to deliver emails to their subscribers.

How you could fall into a spam trap ?

There are several ways that an email marketer can fall into a spam trap:

  1. Purchasing email lists: If an email marketer purchases an email list from a third-party vendor, they run the risk of including spam trap addresses in their mailing list.
  2. Scraping websites: Scraping websites for email addresses without obtaining permission from the website owners or individuals can lead to including spam trap email addresses in the mailing list.
  3. Emailing inactive email addresses: If an email marketer continues to email inactive email addresses abandoned or closed, they may unknowingly send emails to a recycled spam trap email address.
  4. Poor list hygiene: Failing to remove invalid email addresses, fake email addresses, or email addresses created as traps from the mailing list can also result in including spam trap email addresses in the mailing list.
  5. Poor email content: If an email marketer sends emails with poor content or engages in spammy practices such as using excessive capitalization or misleading subject lines, they may trigger spam filters that could lead to being flagged by a spam trap.

You must follow ethical email marketing practices and obtain permission from individuals before adding them to your mailing list. You should also use reputable email list providers and maintain a clean mailing list by regularly removing bounced and inactive email addresses.

Let’s look at these techniques in detail to see how to avoid falling into spam traps. 

How to avoid falling into spam traps ?

Avoiding spam traps is critical for maintaining a good email sender reputation and ensuring that emails reach the intended recipients. Here are some steps that email marketers can take to avoid falling into spam traps:

1) Never collect random emails from the web

Collecting, scraping emails on the web using scraping solutions will multiply your risk of landing in spam traps. Don't do that. 

2) Build your own email list

One of the most effective ways to avoid spam traps is to build your own email list from scratch.

For an opt-in / newsletter or transactional sending email activity

If you send newsletters or transactional emails, you need to obtain the consent from individuals to receive emails from you rather than buying or renting email lists from third-party vendors. 

This will ensure that you are emailing real email recipients and engaged users interested in receiving your massagers and will help you and other senders avoid spam traps. It may take a while to do so, but it is well worth it in the end. There are several ways to build your own email list, including

  • Adding an opt-in form on your website where users can voluntarily provide their email addresses.
  • Offering incentives such as exclusive content, discounts, or freebies in exchange for users’ email addresses.
  • Collecting email addresses during in-person events or through social media channels.

We also recommend you to use double opt-in

Double opt-in is a process that requires users to confirm their subscription to your mailing list by clicking on a confirmation link sent to their email address. This helps to ensure that the email address is valid and that the user has given explicit permission to receive emails from you. 

Using this option, you can avoid accidentally adding spam trap email addresses to your mailing list.

For a B2B cold emailing activity

If you send B2B cold emails, as explained in our Ultimate Email Deliverability Guide, the best place to find quality contacts for your email deliverability and overall email success is LinkedIn.

Why ?

  • The data is fresh and up to date : most people on LinkedIn update their profile.
  • The data is rich and complete : you have the name, job title, company, number of employees, industry, etc… That’s a treasure for cold emailers.
  • The data is easy to extract : that’s pretty quick and easy to extract data and find emails out of LinkedIn thanks to third party tools (list below).
How to find quality emails and contact data out of LinkedIn :

We’ve tested many tools over the last 5 years doing cold outreach for a lot of companies.  The tools below are the best in terms of easiness, speed, data quality and number of emails found.

  • The fastest but pricey solution : Apollo.io allows you to directly extract people from LinkedIn with their email and contact data based on a variety of criteria such as job title, industry, employees, location, etc. The data that comes from Apollo is clean, up to date and their email finding rate is great. That’s our #1 pick.

    The main con of Apollo is that they don’t have ALL the LinkedIn profiles on earth. If you’re in a tiny market and you need quantity, you may consider the following solution.
  • The solution that finds the highest number of emails : looking for emails directly out of a LinkedIn results page (the source). This way, you’ll get access to all the profiles on LinkedIn as long as you have a LinkedIn Sales Navigator (Premium) account. Evaboot is for us the best tool to find emails and data out of a LinkedIn results page.

3) Keep your mailing list clean

Regularly cleaning your mailing list is important to avoid sending emails to inactive or bounced email addresses, which can be flagged as spam traps. This includes:

  • Removing bounced email addresses: If you repeatedly send emails to email addresses that bounce, this can harm your sender’s reputation and increase the likelihood of hitting a spam trap. Remove these email addresses from your mailing list to maintain a clean list.
  • Removing inactive subscribers: If subscribers haven’t opened or clicked on your emails in a long time, it’s a good idea to remove contacts from your mailing list. This will help you avoid sending emails to recycled spam traps.

There’s plenty of tools that verify email lists. We’ve compared a lot of tools and our top picks are Verifalia and DeBounce.

4) Use reputable email service providers

Choosing a reputable email service provider can help avoid sending emails to spam traps. Most email service providers have built-in spam filters that can detect spam-trap email addresses and prevent you from sending emails to them. 

Our ESP recommendation for an opt-in / newsletter or transactional sending email activity

For the best deliverability, we recommend using Sendinblue, a reputable email service provider known for their expertise in deliverability management.

Our cold outreach setup recommendations for a B2B cold emailing activity

The absolute best way of sending cold emails is using Google Workspace or Office 365 addresses. Those two have the highest deliverability (ability to reach the inbox). 

On top of using Google Workspace or Office 365 inboxes, you need a cold outreach automation solution to automate your email sequences. 

For that, we definitely recommend using Emelia or LaGrowthMachine

5) Monitor and raise your email sender reputation (crucial)

Monitoring your email sender reputation and making sure it's high is crucial to ensure your emails are delivered to the inbox.

MailReach's email warm up service helps you improve your email sender reputation, maintain and repair it when it's damaged. 

the graph where your warming emails land by mailreach - spam trap
The graph "Where your warming emails land" when using MailReach, showing your sender reputation getting repaired by the email warm up service

Raising your reputation can be done by generating engagement on your email activity to show the email providers that you send interesting and relevant emails and deserve to land in inbox.

You have two ways to generate more engagement.

The 100% organic way

1. Send emails to your most engaged recipients by segmenting your email list.

2. Get better at writing emails to better engage your recipients and receive more positive interactions to your emails.

The smart, automated way

Use MailReach, the smartest email warming service to generate meaningful engagement to your emails and land more in inbox.

The mission of an email warmer like MailReach is to generate engagement with your inbox and domain to raise your email reputation and in turn, your deliverability.

You simply have to connect your inbox and MailReach will start conversations with other inboxes in the background.

Most of your warming emails will be opened, replied, marked as important and removed from spam. You then get plenty of positive interactions.

It literally teaches the email providers to put your emails in the inbox of your recipients.

To restore a damaged reputation with MailReach, we have a dedicated guide to get the best results as soon as possible: How to restore a damaged reputation and deliverability using MailReach.

Segment users based on their recent activities to stay relevant (for opt-in or transactional emailing)

Segmenting users based on their recent activities is another effective way to avoid spam traps and stay relevant to your subscribers. By segmenting your mailing list, you can target specific groups of users with content that is most relevant to them, increasing the likelihood that they will engage with your emails.

Segment Examples

Here are some examples of how you can segment your mailing list based on recent activities:

  • Engagement: Segment users with respect to their engagement with your previous emails. A prime example of this is creating groups for users who opened or clicked on your last email and targeting them with similar content.
  • Purchase history: If you sell products or services, you can segment users with respect to their purchase history. For instance, you can create segments of users who purchased a particular product and target them with related products or services.
  • Website behavior: If you have a website, you can track users’ behavior on your site and segment them with respect to their actions. You may be able to create groups of people who visited a particular page on your site and target them with related content.
  • Geographic location: If you have subscribers in different geographic locations, you can segment them based on their location and target them with content that is relevant to their location

To effectively segment your email list, you’ll need to have access to data about your subscribers’ activities. This can include data from your email service provider, website analytics, and customer relationship management (CRM) software. By using this data, you can create targeted segments and tailor your content to meet the specific needs and interests of your subscribers.

Final Words

By following these steps, you can avoid falling into spam traps and maintain a good email sender reputation which is mandatory to land in inbox in 2023. 

Therefore, following ethical email marketing practices is crucial to ensure that your emails are delivered to the intended recipients. Consider using MailReach to maximize your email results by improving your email sender reputation and deliverability in the short and long run!

MailReach is compatible with any inbox / SMTP

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