What is a spam trap?
There are two types of spam traps:
A honeypot is an email address that has never been given out and should never receive email. ISPs treat honeypot traps very harshly and know that this user has never signed up. These types of email addresses indicate that you have lack of permission in your sign up processes or you have poor list collection methods. These addresses are often found in purchased or harvested email lists. Honeypot addresses can be toxic to your reputation.
Recycled traps are email addresses that were once active and then abandoned and eventually reactivated and converted into a trap. If you were mailing to these addresses frequently enough, these would have bounced out and/or been removed with the normal course of sending. Recycled email spam traps often show up with poor hygiene practices or list purchases. Old and stale lists that have not been mailed to in quite some time can be a source of these types of traps. Senders who do not perform consistent list hygiene practices will also have these types of email addresses in their databases. While recycled traps do not impact your reputation as severely as honeypot addresses, they can still be harmful to your sending reputation.
Some of the most frequent ways spam traps can end up in your database are:
- Email addresses as part of a purchased or rented list
- Email addresses obtained from a co-registration partner or affiliate
- Email addresses that were harvested or scraped off of a website without a recipient’s consent
- Email addresses acquired through a merger or acquisition
- Malicious intention for someone to subscribe to your email list
- Adding old, stale email addresses to your contact database or not mailing to your contacts in a significant amount of time (6 months or greater)
Keeping your list clean at the point of acquisition:
- Focus on quality over quantity. Make sure that your methods for collecting leads are opt-in and producing quality results.
- Clearly state your opt-in permission request. Ensure all addresses in your database have provided affirmative opt-in permission to receive ongoing messages from you.
- Be upfront and set the expectations of why you are capturing the email address and how you plan to use it in future communications.
- Provide incentives within the first email so that recipients will provide a valid address. Don’t force people to give an email address to access free information or just browse your site – this type of address collection yields fake addresses that will not provide quality results.
- If email addresses are acquired through partners, affiliates, or other services you should ensure that you are properly vetting your partner’s sign-up process for industry best practices.
Ongoing list maintenance:
- Mail frequently enough to your database so that your list will normalize by continuing to remove bounced addresses.
- Plan for a routine review and inventory of your database. Devise strategies to re-engage or remove addresses that have not opened or clicked in some time.
- Periodically reevaluate your signup process and metrics to ensure your list sources are capturing quality results.
- Make your opt-out request simple and easy. Remove opt-outs and abuse complainers immediately. Provide preference centers to enable contacts to adjust frequency and content of sends rather than unsubscribe.
Once you have spam traps in your database it can be quite time consuming and difficult to remove them. In addition, you will be eliminating some of your contacts during this process. You must be able to let go of non-responsive or disengaged recipients so that you will be able to reach your interested and engaged audience. Removing spam traps and disengaged recipients from your database will have a positive impact on your reputation.
Detail a process so that you can:
- Identify the source or segment traps were sent to. Segment your sends to isolate traps and work to clean or remove poor list sources if recently added and known to be the issue.
- Look at email addresses where the address has had no activity in your database or in other metrics (purchases, web activity, etc.). Look to reengage or remove addresses with no activity.
- Look at email addresses that have had limited activity (open or clicks) in a significant period of time. Start at 6 months then adjust down based on the frequency of sends to this recipient. Look to remove addresses that have no activity within this identified period of time.
- Use this guide to Defining and Removing Inactive Subscribers
Should you need assistance executing the above steps for isolating and removing spam traps, Sugar Market’s, formerly known as Salesfusion’s, professional services can assist you. Please contact your Client Success Manager or Support for more information.