How to avoid spam traps, honey pots

Spam, this word plays an important role in email marketing. Each and every email marketer is aware of this word and does not want their campaigns to destine to spam folders. This deadly word can be defined as the unsolicited email or unwanted email as agreed by email marketers. To fight against this spam, almost all organisations or ISPs uses a particular type of email addresses called honey pots or spam traps to find and block spammers. These are considered to be the efficient tools. If an email marketer hits one of these, then it is highly difficult for your campaigns being delivered to ISPs and hence it is better to stay away from spam traps.

Define spam traps: Spam traps are email addresses which are used to identify legitimate senders or to block illegitimate senders who add email addresses to their lists without getting permission from the users. These spam traps are used to track the email marketers who does not follow good sender practices.

These spam traps basically are not for communication purpose. Don’t let yourself to be the one among them who got caught in the spam trap. They will hurt your reputation and business greatly.

This article will give you a clear picture on spam traps, how deadly they are, different types spam traps, what to do if you identify a spam trap on your list, how to fight spam traps and so on.

Deadly spam traps:
Hitting a spam trap can damage your sender reputation and causes severe deliverability problems. The impact of spam traps varies with the type of spam trap and how many times you hit them and how does they operate etc. But whatever it is, once you hit the spam trap then the following will encounter:

  • Your sender reputation gets damaged causing an increase in bounces and spam rates and ultimately affecting your deliverability rates.
  • Your IP addresses will be blocked and added to the blacklist database.
  • If you hit the spam trap trapped by ISP such as Gmail or Yahoo then your domain will be permanently added to their blacklist blocking all your future communications.
  • If you hit a trap trapped by an anti-spam organization then the delivery of your future emails to all ISPs and companies who tie up with will be blocked as they use this information to identify the legitimate senders.

Different types of Spam traps:

TLD email traps:
TLD means Top Level Domains; these are considered to be top most internet service providers like Gmail, Yahoo, Hotmail etc who offer free email services. These ISPs create email addresses and use these as traps by placing them online in forums, websites and other form pages.

These are very efficient in identifying spammers. In order to avoid such spam traps, you have to use certain spam trap removal service that is efficient in removing such spam traps. The best way to avoid this is by not depending on rented or harvested list for promoting your email campaigns.

Pure spam traps or honey pots:
These are created by ISPs with the sole purpose to identify spammers. If an email marketer hits this spam trap then it costs their sender reputation in a very bad manner. But this is accepted that this spam trap will not be available with legitimate sender with good sending practises. If an email marketer trigger this, of sure he will be a spammer.

Recycled spam trap or reactivated address spam traps:
These are once active email address and might have gone dormant or inactive at one point of time. These dormant email addresses are taken up by ISPs after a certain period of inactivity and created as spam traps and they will stop notifying the bounced message to the email marketers after a certain period of inactivity.

If the email marketer follows best sender practices, then they will naturally remove such bounce addresses from their email list. If the email marketers hit this spam trap, then he will be blocked as a spammer.

Recycled domain spam trap:
This is similar to that recycled spam trap. A number of email addresses belonging to a particular company are taken up by the ISPs when the company lapses or that went out of business. Then all the addresses belonging to that particular company are created as spam traps and are kept in forum and websites.

Reputable email marketer will check their list and remove soft and hard bounce message after a particular period of time. If an email marketer fails to do this, then they have to face severe damage to their sender score.

Investigative spam traps:
In order to identify a potential spammer, the operator of spam trap or blacklist will create a special onetime investigate spam trap and use this to sign up at the potential spammer's site. If the company share this email address then this becomes permanent spam trap and the future emails received by this address are identified as spam. This proves that the email marketer have purchased an email list.

How to avoid such spam traps?

  • "Prevention is better than cure". This best applies here; best email sending practices are naturally the best aids to avoid hitting such spam traps.
  • Don't buy email lists: Buying email lists or sending your email campaigns to the rented or purchased lists triggers spam traps.
  • Don't pool out email addresses from websites and forums as they are the exclusive sites for pure spam traps.
  • Don't share or trade email addresses from other companies. This is again a habit of purchasing lists from your neighbouring companies.
  • Make sure that you remove all your hard bounce addresses from your list and see to it that soft bounce addresses are also to be removed if they encounter a soft bounce repeatedly. Maintain a clean and healthy list to safeguard your sender reputation score.
  • Check your response rates now and then by sending holiday or festival greetings to your clients as they might go stale. If your clients have not responded to your emails for the past 6 months, then plan for reactivation or re-engagement or win back campaigns to get back them, still not responded then remove their address from your list to avoid hitting a spam trap. As those are the sources of recycled or reactivated spam trap address.
  • Use double opt-in process, it might reduce your list but maintain the list health by increasing open rates, click through rates and conversion rates.
  • Check for database errors when you get email addresses from shopping malls or from grocery shop or from trade fairs etc. Check their efficiency by asking permission from your users for sending your campaigns to their inbox.

After all these still you encounter spam traps then check your recent list building strategizes and reconfirm all the email addresses before mailing them.

Spam traps are a symptom of the future problem:

  • It is not bad of getting a spam trap in your email list; but the real bad thing is that sending your campaigns to that spam trap will end up your future email campaigns.
  • Check your list building practises, this will get to the root cause of this problem and eventually helps you to rectify the problem by not getting a spam trap in future.

Procedures to follow if you get a spam trap on your list:

  • If you are not a legitimate sender or not following sender best practises or do not use double opt-in process for your email list then immediately stop sending your email campaigns because you are wasting your time and resources in email marketing.
  • In spite of following email best practices, still you encounter a spam trap on your list then it is horrible. Remember that hitting a spam trap is not a problem it is a symptom. Track your email list and see it to what went wrong and fix the issue immediately.
  • Reactivated or recycled address or domain spam traps can get into your list unintentional, if you neglect to follow email best practises or forgot to wash out bounce or inactive addresses from your list.
  • Be calm, clear and co-operate with the spam trap employer or operator to find the root cause and to fix up the issue as soon as possible.
  • If the spam trap operator asks you for any details then explain him clearly about your double opt-in process and from where you pool out such email addresses and let him know if you have tracked any issue from your end.
  • If your email sending practices are clear without any issue then share this with spam trap operator for any further clarifications to resolve the issue quickly.

How email marketers get into this:

There are several reasons of how legitimate email marketers get into these spam traps, these are as follows:

  • By not washing out unsubscribed, invalid, bounced and inactive addresses.
  • By not removing stale addresses.
  • By not adopting double opt-in process.
  • By not checking database errors while entering email addresses got from offline sources like shopping malls, trade fairs and grocery shops etc.
  • By getting purchased email lists.
  • By sending their email campaigns to old and outdated list.



Adopting best ending practises are the only key available to avoid spam traps. Spam traps are excellent tools for the ISPs to down rate the spam activity on internet. But a successful email marketer need not worry about this until and unless you maintain a hygienic list of contacts.


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