Spam Traps Part 2: How They Impact Your Mail Program

Clea Moore
Jan. 27, 2016 by Clea Moore

spam traps part 2

Before we get into “Spam Traps Part 2: How they Impact Your Mail Program” first a recap of Spam Traps: Part 1. Last week, I talked about the types of addresses that are considered spam traps: pristine and recycled. We established that trap addresses don’t belong to real users, and are therefore not of value to you as a marketer. In part 2 of this blog series, we’ll explore who uses spam traps and how they can impact your mail program.

Spam traps are carefully created and cared for by blacklist providers (Spamhaus, SpamCop, etc.), filtering providers (Cloudmark, Proofpoint, etc.), and ISPs. They each maintain their own network (or group) of trap addresses. Each address is valuable to these providers, because it takes a lot of time and resources to build a quality trap network. What this means for you is that they will never share a trap address with you. Once that address is known, it’s considered burned and the provider has lost a valuable monitoring resource.

So, why do these providers maintain trap networks? They use them as a tool to measure the quality of a marketers mail program, and as a way to catch spammers. If you have poor list hygiene and collection practices, spam traps are a great way for blacklists, ISPs, and filtering companies to identify those problems. What they do with that data once they have it varies, but it generally takes hitting (sending to) an egregious threshold of trap addresses before they will take action against you as a sender. That threshold may vary depending on the type of address – remember, mailing to pristine traps is a more severe problem than mailing to recycled addresses.

What can happen if you mail to spam trap addresses? The main result is blocked mail. A blacklist provider may list your IPs and/or domain, resulting in blocks at various ISPs who consume that list. An ISP may block your mail as a result of a blacklisting on a public list, or as a result of that sender hitting traps in their internal network. A filtering provider may categorize your mail as spam, resulting in their ISP consumers placing your mail in the junk folder or blocking your mail.

The bottom line is: Once these addresses make it on to your list, they can cause serious trouble. So, what can you do to avoid or solve problems related to hitting spam traps? I hope you enjoyed Spam Traps Part 2, stay tuned for “Spam Traps Part 3”…

At SparkPost, we work closely with all of our Elite customers to ensure they are following email best practices, and are successful as a result. Find out more on our product page.

— Clea


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