Understanding Spam Traps

Spam traps can be an intimidating part of the email deliverability challenge. But with a little knowledge, email senders who follow best practices should have little trouble with them. SparkPost’s team of email pros has put together this guide to help you with what you need to know.

What are spam traps?

There are two basic types of spam traps, so-called “pristine” spam traps and “recycled” spam traps. They serve different roles in helping ISPs to police sending practices by bad actors.

  • Pristine Spam Traps. These are addresses created solely to capture spammers. They’re sometimes referred to as “honeypots” for that reason. These email addresses were never owned by a real person, do not subscribe to email programs, and of course will never make a purchase. If you are hitting pristine traps, this typically indicates you have a bad data partner.
  • Recycled Spam Traps. These are email addresses that once were used by a real person, but then abandoned. ISPs sometimes will recycle these dormant addresses as spam traps. Before turning an abandoned email address into a spam trap, ISPs will return an unknown user error code for a period of time, typically 6 to 12 months. If you are hitting a recycled spam trap, this typically indicates that your data hygiene process is not working.

Essential steps to avoid and remove spam traps

Avoiding them is a matter of proper list management and hygiene. Here are some basic steps you should take to not fall into these traps with your email campaigns.

  • Do not purchase or rent lists.
  • Remove hard bounces.
  • Proactively reengage your inactive subscribers.
  • Remove disengaged subscribers once several re-engagement attempts have been made.

Learn more about spam traps

Want to learn more? Our team has created an essential series of blog posts digging into what you need to know.

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