Spam Traps: Are You Keeping Your Customers Clear of Them? Or Putting Your Deliverability at Risk?
If you work in the email industry, I’m assuming you already know what a spam trap is, and that it’s a bad thing to send an email to one. But are you fully prepared to protect your ESP from the dangers of a spam trap, since it will be one of your customers who quite literally falls into the spam trap and brings negative consequences to you and your business?
How does a spam trap get on a sender’s list?
Your clients are probably all on the up and up, intending to follow best practices and certainly not setting out to deliberately spam people—or send email to spam traps.
o Some spam traps are intentionally set to catch spammers, or irresponsible senders. They end up on a list when a marketer buys a list.
o Some spam traps are old email addresses that have gone inactive, and ISPs re-activate them to catch spammers or senders who don’t practice list hygiene. These end up on your client’s list for that reason: lack of hygiene. It could very well be they had permission to send to that email address way back when, and when the email went inactive, they have continued to send to it.
o Inactive domains can also get your senders in trouble, if they’re continuing to send emails to a domain that’s gone dead.
o Some spam traps are the result of users quickly typing email addresses so they enter the wrong email for them, but it’s an email address associated with a spam trap.
o Finally, some users will enter a bogus email address to get something they want (but not enough to hand over their real email address). That bogus email address can be a spam trap.
This is obviously a very dumbed-down review of types of spam traps. If you want to read more, you can review Laura Atkins’ list of types of spam traps as a refresher, and perhaps even learn a thing or two about types of spam traps you hadn’t heard of before.
What happens to the ESP when an email is sent to a spam trap?
It’s not only the sender who takes a hit when an email goes to a spam trap, potentially getting blacklisted by an ISP. So does the ESP used by that sender. And that in turn can affect the deliverability of all of the other clients of that ESP.
It’s a serious offense, even if an unintended one. So take what steps you can to prevent it from happening.
What can you do to protect the ESP from spam traps?
Your job isn’t to babysit your clients to make sure they have good, clean lists for each and every send. But you can proactively take steps to decrease the chance that one of your customers will send email to a spam trap:
o Make sure your clients are educated on deliverability best practices.
o Remind them to remove hard bounces right away.
o Also remind them to practice regular list hygiene on a set schedule.
o Encourage them to segment out inactives and run re-activation campaigns, deleting any emails that don’t respond to that effort after a set period of time.
o Suggest they use double opt-in to ensure they are getting correct email addresses from real life people.
o If they are getting a lot of bogus email addresses in reaction to an offer, suggest they not gate whatever the content is and offer it without asking for an email.
Protect your own deliverability as well as that of your clients, by making sure all your senders follow these best practices.