How to identify and eliminate spam traps in your email lists?

A spam trap looks like a real email address, but it does not belong to a real person and is not used for any type of communication.  Usually, this is an email address abandoned by its owner because it was already very spammy, disabled for several years, the operator reactivates it and can use it as a spam trap, because only a spammer would continue to send emails to this address.

Why should you care about spam traps?

You may have sent emails to spam traps without even realizing it.  Depending on the type of trap, having even a single tram spam on your mailing list can drastically affect your ability to send your emails to your subscribers' inboxes.

If you send emails to spam traps, you are considered someone who is using incorrect practices to collect email addresses or that you haven't done a good job of keeping your list clean.  To avoid spam traps, use an email list verify

To anti-spam organizations and email providers, this makes you look like a spammer, which can impact your reputation as a sender.  Senders with a bad reputation may not send their emails directly to their subscribers.

How did a spam trap end up in my list of email addresses?

To understand how a spam trap can end up on your mailing list, it is important to know the different types of spam traps that exist.  Laura Atkins, email deliverability expert and owner of Word to the Wise, has compiled a comprehensive list of spam trap categories.  Here are the most common pitfalls:

“Blank” traps are email addresses posted on public websites but hidden so that a normal user will never see them.  The only people who find and send messages to these addresses are people who use bad collection processes, such as scraping.

If you obtained addresses by scraping web pages (or if you purchased a list with email addresses from scraping), you may have logged an invisible spam trap.  Recycled traps are email addresses that have been used by real people in the past, have been abandoned, and which at some point have been converted into a trap by the email provider.  When an email is no longer in use, providers deactivate it after a certain period of time.