The Ultimate Guide to Avoiding Spam Traps

Chris Arrendale

3 minute read

Have you ever wished there was an ultimate guide to avoiding spam traps? If you’re wondering how you can create the most effective email marketing while avoiding spam traps, read on.

There are three types of spam traps–typo traps, grey or recycled traps, and pristine traps. Whether you’re using misspelled domains, sending bulk emails, or sending emails to recipients that didn’t intentionally subscribe (batch & blast), your email marketing efforts are being sent to spam.

These bad practices of gathering new leads will produce a bad online reputation for your brand and could potentially lead you down the path of hitting spam traps.

Three Types of Spam Traps:

  • Typo Traps
  • Grey or Recycled Traps
  • Pristine Traps

Three Types of Spam Traps:

Typo Trap

Have you ever misspelled “Google” and it came out as “Gogle”, but it still took you directly to Or have you sent out an email to “Gmall” or “Comnast”? This is where typo traps come from. They are real emails that will not bounce and have misspelled domains. Typo traps are the most common types of spam traps. ISPs watch these spam traps to get an insight into senders’ list practices. Hitting this spam trap once is expected. However, if your messages are repeatedly hitting a typo trap, the ISP knows that you are not using double opt-in. When sending an email, best practice is to send a confirmation email and suppress that email address if the recipient does not confirm. Typo traps are there to catch senders who do not confirm opt-ins and who don’t keep a clean list. ISPs will see these as evidence of abusive practices. To avoid a typo trap, clean your list and confirm opt-ins. To read more about words and phrases to avoid to keep you out of spam, read here.

Grey or Recycled Trap

Remember your first email address? Neither do I, and it’s probably no longer in use. Guess what? There is a high chance an ISP has reactivated it to see what brands are still sending messages to it. This is called a grey or recycled trap. It’s important to be in control of your lists and monitor changes such as opt-ins, hard bounces, and unsubscribes. Recycled traps don’t turn into recycled traps until after they hard bounce, so when using a list from an affiliate, make sure to grab their suppression list as well. That way you can avoid sending to addresses that have already hard bounced. Remember, once an address is a spam trap, it doesn’t hard bounce any more. Purchased lists are often riddled with old addresses that have become spam traps. To avoid recycled spam traps, permanently suppress hard bounces, segment out unengaged users, and don’t use lists if you cannot confirm they were collected with good opt-in practices.

Pristine Trap

The third spam trap is called a pristine spam trap. A pristine spam trap is an email address created by an ISP or blacklist from nothing, and is then used to register for forums and posted on blogs, etc., where list scrapers will see it. That list you purchased that you think is going to drive massive revenue was actually scraped off the internet and is full of pristine spam traps. ISPs and blacklists consider the act of sending to users who don’t expect your mail to be one of the most abusive practices. To protect their customers, ISPs will filter and even block senders who hit pristine spam traps.

To avoid spam traps, set good expectations, use double opt-in, and segment out unengaged users. There is no way to definitively identify all spam traps already on your list, but if you are segmenting by engagement, they will be segmented out with the rest of the unengaged users. Need some resources? Using a list validation service, such as Webbula or BriteVerify (Validity), can help you because it will take your email list and analyze it for any and all emails that should no longer be receiving messages from your brand, and it can often catch some of the spam traps already on your list.

Brands end up blacklisted, filtered, and blocked due to poor sending practices. Always keep a suppression list of emails that should not receive your messages, and only send to engaged users who have requested to receive your emails.

By following these simple steps and best practices, you might find your email messages on the nice list with ISPs this year.

If you’re experiencing deliverability issues, contact our deliverability experts.

Trendline Interactive

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About the Author(s)

Chris Arrendale

Founder of Inbox Pros (acquired by Trendline in July of 2018). Author of Deliverability Inferno. Certified expert and frequent speaker on the topics of data privacy, deliverability and compliance. BA in Poli-Sci/Soc from Emory, MS in Software Engineering & IT from Southern Polytechnic State University. A shoe and wine collection that’s the envy of pro athletes. Follow Chris on LinkedIn

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