A Look Into Email Marketing Trends for 2013
Recommended Reading 04/05/2013

Mind Your Email Reputation, Watch Out For Spam Traps

Having spam traps in your emailing list is a big problem. They damage your email reputation, resulting in your emails getting stuck in spam filters. That’s why, as an email marketer, you should do everything in your power to prevent spam traps from ending up in your databases.

What are spam traps?

Spam traps are seemingly valid email addresses that are created with the sole purpose of identifying spam emails. These addresses are scattered over various locations on the internet, without ever using them to actually send emails.

Should any emails arrive on these addresses, then there is no other explanation possible than being the result of harvesting. Or at least, that is the idea.

So what’s wrong with that idea?

In general? Not much. But there are ways that spam traps can end up on the emailing lists of legitimate email marketers, in the end unjustly landing them on various blacklists.

How does that happen?

For spammers, it is in their interest to damage various blacklists’ credibility by luring legitimate email marketers into a spam trap. So if they get suspicious that certain email addresses are spam traps, they will sign up these addresses up for bona fide emailings. The more often this happens, the less reliable a spam trap becomes, damaging the credibility of the blacklist that resulted out of that trap.

Also, a lot of email providers use invalid email addresses as spam traps. They will then monitor emailings that are sent to addresses that have never existed for example. Or in many cases they even use email addresses that were once valid, but are now expired. So if someone signs up for your emailings and changes his email address after a while, this could lead to you being placed on a blacklist.

What can I do to prevent sending emails to spam traps?

There are a few precautions you can take to prevent spam traps from ending up on your address list:

Make sure that anyone signing up for your emailings is human. You could do so by adding a (re)captcha to your sign up form, or by requiring someone to log in before he can sign up. One of the big issues with this method however is that it annoys a lot of people, raising the bar for someone to sign up.

Double opt in
Double check every opt in for your newsletters by letting someone confirm his subscription by clicking a link in an email (or by sending a reply).

Keep your database clean
Always be sure to maintain a clean database. Don’t limit yourself to only processing opt outs, but also check for bounces that might be the results of expired email addresses.

What it comes down to

In the end, spam traps are not the cause but a symptom of the problem. An email list filled with spam traps is a sign of a corrupted database. Always be careful when gathering opt ins, and make sure to keep a clean database.


Profielfoto-MichaelMichael Linthorst (1976) is an internet entrepreneur and CEO of Copernica Marketing Software. 10 years ago Michael set up Copernica together with his business partner. Copernica is now one of the most powerful email service providers in Europe. It provides marketing software which enables its users to single-handedly set up (automated) campaigns using emailmobileweb pagessocial media or print.

Next to full-time entrepreneur, Michael is also an avid blogger on subjects such as email marketing, database marketing and eCommerce.


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