Email Deliverability: How to Avoid Spam Traps?

Share this post

The ability of an email to reach your subscribers’ primary inbox instead of other tabs like spam is what we know as email deliverability and it is at the core of a successful email marketing strategy. However, there are so many different aspects to it, that sometimes you don’t even know where to start assessing your deliverability. In this article, we’ll tell you all about one of those things you need to be on the lookout for when it comes to your email deliverability: how to avoid spam traps.

1. What is a spam trap?

Inbox Service Providers (ISPs) and blocklist providers have various tools and filters to identify spammers and block their emails. Some of those tools are spam traps. Spam traps are email addresses that can look authentic but aren’t used by a person. Spam trap email addresses can’t opt-in to any email marketing lists. If they end up on an email list, it can be because of a lack of list cleaning or non-compliant practices (like sending emails to purchased lists). 

There are two types of spam traps: pristine and recycled.


1. a. Recycled Spam Traps

These emails were once authentic email addresses and belonged to a real person, but since then have been reclaimed by mailbox providers because of inactivity.  So that high school email address you created many years ago may as well be now helping to save the world from spammers. 

Recycled spam traps are tricky since they can end up on your list even if you obtained them with permission in the first place. For example, if you have old email addresses and do not have list-cleaning habits, you probably have some recycled spam traps lingering in your email ecosystem. 

These addresses are not handled by a real user. Therefore, you won’t get any engagement from them, and they can hurt your deliverability. So, maintaining those addresses on your list is not a great idea.

1. b. Pristine Spam Traps

Unlike recycled spam traps, pristine spam traps were never owned by someone. These were created with the sole use of catching spammers. 

These spam traps can’t opt-in to any email list because they don’t have an active user behind them. Pristine spam traps are placed on the internet by ISPs as bait for people or bots harvesting email addresses in a non-compliant manner. The only way they can end up in your email ecosystem is if you are scraping the net for emails or purchasing email lists.

types of spam traps

2. How can a spam trap affect your email deliverability?

The effects of hitting a spam trap can vary depending on which kind of spam trap it was and how many times it happened. These are some of the consequences your brand could be facing:

  • Damaged sender reputation which translates into higher bounce rates and lower deliverability.
  • Emails being identified as spam and not landing in your recipients’ primary inbox. 
  • Domain or IP address being blocklisted (this can be momentarily or even permanently).

Overall, spam traps will cause damage to your deliverability. Knowing how to identify spam traps and protect from them is crucial for a successful email marketing strategy.

3. How to identify spam traps?

The answer is actually more straightforward than you could have thought. The key is segmentation and proper list cleaning. 

As we mentioned, spam traps are old email accounts reclaimed by ISP’s or email addresses created with the only goal of working as spam traps. Either way, none of these spam traps have a real user behind them. It is impossible to have spam traps opening or clicking your emails. 

Regularly try to segment email addresses that are too old or have never engaged with your content and delete them from your list to keep only emailing quality profiles. If you have been battling with deliverability, you should check out What is email deliverability and how to keep it healthy?.

how to avoid spam traps

4. How to avoid spam traps?

There are two main things you can do to protect yourself from spam traps:

  1. Be compliant. That means never purchasing email lists or scraping emails from your competition. If people haven’t expressed their consent to receive your email, there’s no point in having them in your contact list. That is not compliant, and you could be emailing cold leads that will only increase your unsubscribe, bounce, and spam rates. 
  2. Clean your list regularly. Maintaining proper list hygiene is important for all brands. Cleaning means removing contacts that have never interacted with your emails or that have soft-bounced frequently or hard-bounced ever.


Do you think you may have hit a spam trap and are having deliverability issues? 

Book a free call with our experts and let us look into it!


More useful information:


Share this post