Email Marketing 101:
What Are Spam Traps
And How To Avoid Them
Written by Franco Varriano.
If you’re an email marketer and you don’t know what a spam trap is, you need to pay attention. Spam traps reduce the number of leads you reach by flagging your email newsletters as a spam. Fewer leads mean fewer customers.
One out of every five emails may never reach your subscriber’s inbox, despite the effort you put into growing your email list, designing great email templates, and following email-marketing best practices.
But this issue can be resolved. By acting on the following information, you can easily avoid spam traps and clean your current list to help get your emails into your subscribers’ inboxes.
What are Spam Traps?
Spam traps are email addresses used by email service and blacklist providers to catch malicious senders. They look like legitimate email addresses, but their sole purpose is to identify spammers and senders with bad list-building practices.
Email regulation has grown substantially in recent years to protect people from unwanted and harmful emails, and for good reason. No one wants email marketers and spammers to clutter their inbox. They want to wake up, check their inbox and only see emails that pertain to their lives.
Anti-spam organizations will deem you a spammer if you don’t follow certain email marketing practices. This means that people who want your emails in their inbox may never even see them.
Let’s look at the different types of spam traps so you can learn how to avoid them.
The Two Types Of Spam Traps
There are many different kinds of spam traps, but the most common are:
Pristine Traps publish hidden email addresses on public websites so normal users never see them. Since people only find these fake email addresses by scraping the web, any emails sent to the fake email addresses must be from someone using illegitimate practices to grow their mailing list.
Recycled Traps are real email addresses that were used by real people in the past, but were abandoned and converted into a trap by the email service provider.
How To Avoid Spam Traps
Anti-spam organizations want you to build your subscriber list using honest and lawful practices, meaning your subscribers have to confirm that they want to receive your emails and can unsubscribe whenever they want.
Here are the steps you should take to avoid spam traps:
Good Email Acquisition Practices
You should only add people to your list who show interest and agree to be on it. This is often done with a sign-up form, where a reader can sign-up if he or she is interested in receiving your emails.
To ensure that the email address provided is real – and not an invalid email or a spam trap address – you need to require a double opt-in. This means that after the subscriber signs up for your email list they receive a confirmation email asking them to verify the subscription. So, if they provide a fake email address, they won’t receive the double opt-in and they won’t be added to your list.
You also need to avoid purchased lists. It may seem like an easy way to find new leads for your company, but it’s actually illegal. The CAN-SPAM Act declares that buying and selling email addresses is illegal, and there are heavy penalties for violators. The simple way to avoid this is to not purchase email lists.
Manage Bounce Rate
Bounces result when emails can’t be delivered. There are two types of bounces:
- Hard Bounces occur when an email can’t be delivered because the email address is invalid or there is an error sending the message.
- Soft Bounces happen because the recipient’s inbox is full or temporarily unavailable, so the email is returned to the sender.
There are a few things you can do to lower your bounce rate:
Keep your list active. Don’t let several months or years go by without sending an email to your subscribers. This will help you catch invalid emails sooner so they don’t accumulate on your list.
Next, you need to remove invalid email addresses from your mailing list so they don’t end up becoming Recycled Spam Traps. If you receive a hard bounce from a recently engaged subscriber, there may have been an issue with delivery and you don’t have to remove them from your list yet. But if you have inactive subscribers and receive two or more hard bounces from them, you need to remove them.
Since internet service providers require email service providers to enforce bounce rate limits, check to see if your provider manages your hard bounces for you.
Avoiding spam traps is a necessary practice, but you may already have fake and invalid email addresses on your list. Let us show you how to clean an old and unengaged list.
How to Clean Your Email List
If you have an old list that you haven’t engaged for a while, you need to clean it before using it or adding those addresses to your current list. Otherwise, they may end up as Recycled Traps, labeling you as a spammer.
To clean an old list, have your subscribers reconfirm their email addresses by following these steps:
- Create a new email list. You will be using a new email list to capture every reconfirmed email address.
- Create an opt-in form. This opt-in form will ask the subscribers if they would like to receive your emails (again) and to submit their email address to stay on your list. They will also receive a double opt-in confirmation email.
- Export and save the emails. You will be deleting the old list, but need to keep the email addresses.
- Send a reconfirmation email, not through your email service provider. Instead, use your regular email program and email address, BCC all your contacts, and send an email with a link to the new opt-in form.
Anyone that subscribes to your new list is a viable lead that you’re allowed to email.
Enjoy the Benefits of a Clean List
The previous strategies will help you avoid many of the spam traps out there. Keeping your list clean can seem technical and difficult, but it’s not hard to follow. It’s basically about making sure that everyone on your list actually wants to be on it.
Here’s a summary of the strategies outlined above:
- Use good email acquisition practices: Have a double opt-in that confirms new email addresses and never buy email lists from anyone.
- Manage your bounce rate by keeping your list active and removing invalid email addresses after receiving two or more hard bounces.
- Clean your old lists by having subscribers reconfirm their decision to be on your list.
Improve your business by improving the quality of your email list. Avoid unnecessary spam traps and have your messages heard. If you’re an e-commerce merchant and don’t have automated email marketing campaigns set up for your store, you’re losing money where you really don’t need too.
And if you’re one of the thousands of merchants who are already using Rare’s Smart Email Marketing software and want to see how our Customer Success Team can work with your brand to grow your revenue – feel free to book a call at your convenience here.
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