How Do Dead Email Addresses Get Turned Into Spam Traps?

Brands that depend on email marketing always ensure that they check the spam scores of their emails before hitting the send button. Regardless of following all measures of legitimate email marketing, are you falling into the prey of spam traps? This happens when you fail to keep your subscription list updated enough.

ISPs choose inoperative addresses to use as spam traps

A spam trap is an email address which is specially created by ISPs to find spammers. ISPs pick random dormant email addresses and customize them into their version of spam traps. It could be those email IDs which were once active, but after a period of inactivity, they started returning hard bounces. If theses addresses receive emails, ISPs will understand that the list is either purchased or rented. Mostly rightful though enervated digital marketers fall into this trap as they fail to revise their list regularly.

Drop your Hard Bouncers or get stacked into the spam can

Mailers should be clear about the types of bounces they receive for their email campaigns. Hard bounces occur when the email address is either invalid or it doesn’t exist. All types of terminated email addresses including Hotmail aliases return hard bounces even if their primary addresses are still active as Mailer Daemons are unable to identify them. If you continue to send emails to hard bounces ISPs smell it as spamming and will finally lump you into the spam can.

Attrition rates can overshoot one-third of your list

Churn rate is an important factor for any business with a subscriber-based service model. It can multiply up to one-third every year. There could be numerous reasons for which people drop their email addresses but one of them could be the rapid increase in the use of Hotmail aliases by customers. People hide their primary email information from the marketers by creating aliases and dispose of them later. The primary reason driving email churn is the value and efficacy of your marketing campaign. Lack of relevance of your content, over-emailing could be some of the marketer driven reasons. The other reasons could be the change of domains, perhaps a start-up business failed to flourish and all the email addresses associated started returning hard bounces.

The common types of spam traps are:

Pure, Pristine or True Spam Traps are either created by ISPs, mailbox providers or blacklists services like Spamhaus, Spamcop. They place these email addresses on public websites in a way that is hidden from a normal user but can be scraped by email harvesting bots. Mailing to pristine spam traps can cause several deliverability issues and can even lead to blacklist.

Recycled Spam traps are those email addresses that were used by real users in past became abandoned and then converted into a trap by mailbox providers. If you follow unclear list collecting practices you may pick recycle spam trap.

Is it possible to remove 100% spam traps from your list?

ISPs, anti-spam authorities and inbox providers such as Gmail, Yahoo, AOL and Hotmail never disclose which email addresses are traps. Revealing this list will certainly weaken their purpose of catching spammers. The optimum possible solution is to follow proper list acquisition process. It is always preferable to monitor your reputation proactively using Return Path reputation monitoring.

The biggest small change to your email marketing strategy

Your company must delete all the hard bounce email addresses on priority. The result will be visible in your campaign reports as an increased open rate. Companies relying on email marketing can put to an end by the blockage of their email marketing campaigns. Hence, it is important for a legitimate email marketer to consider their list cleaning as imperative as making payroll. Benchmark Email adds these addresses to a suppression list which ensures that even if you send emails to them will not get delivered as we understand they are of no use. We want our customers to practice lawful email marketing, therefore we have decided to educate them.


Originally published at blog.benchmarkemail.com on September 20, 2016.