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How a Spamtrap Gets Onto Your List and What To Do When it Does

In my last post, I went over an overview of what a spamtrap is and the different types of spamtraps. Today, we’ll be going over precisely how a spamtrap winds up on your list and what you can do to protect against them.

So, we’ve gone over what a spamtrap is, but let’s chat for a minute about what they do. Spamtraps are the proverbial canaries in the coal mine to blacklist providers and those in the email industry that indicates something is wrong with a sender’s lists. Depending on who owns those spamtraps, you’re risking your IP reputation and could potentially end up blacklisted for hitting one or multiple spamtraps. Worse, that provider could block your entire IP range, which could affect a large portion of our clients, so this is something we take extremely seriously here at Pardot! Maybe the sender is purchasing lists, maybe they’re just sending to old lists their intern found in a filing cabinet somewhere (true story). But no matter what the situation is, Spamtraps are a symptom of a deeper list issue which is why simply removing them from your lists isn’t enough to fix things – if you could even identify the spamtrap address in the first place. They’re kept secret for a reason!

Avoiding the Classic Spamtrap

So, with that in mind, let’s start with an easy one – classic and seed spamtraps. Remember, these are the spamtraps that fall under the category of being “pristine” traps, meaning they never opt in to receiving email and are either randomly found or are picked up by website scrapers. It’s extremely easy to stay away from these spamtraps – just follow best practices when it comes to your list collection methods. Specifically: don’t try to e-append or purchase lists. Not only does purchasing lists go against our Permission Based Marketing Policy, but it’s also significantly more likely to get you blacklisted. That’s it. Follow our Permission Based Marketing Policy and you can avoid these kinds of spamtraps with ease.

Avoiding the “Dead Address” Spamtrap

Now, where dead address spamtraps are concerned, things are a bit trickier. A dead address spamtrap is one that formerly belonged to someone, but has been abandoned. After a period of 12-18 months of that email address sending back a bounce, it’s turned back into a legitimate email address that considers any further inbound email to be spam. As long as you send at least one email to your entire database every few months, you shouldn’t have any problems…but we all know that’s not even slightly realistic. What if your intern finds a trade show sign-up list in a filing cabinet? You have no idea how old those leads are, but maybe you still want to see if there’s anything there to follow up on. To avoid being blacklisted or affecting your sending reputation due to a high bounce rate, I’d recommend you first clean your list. Make sure you can weed out as many bad email addresses as you can, so you don’t run into high bounce rate issues on your sends. Next, you should run a permission pass on that list as a one-time send to verify people are still interested in receiving your emails. That will get you a clean list of people who are actively interested and aren’t spamtraps in disguise!

Avoiding the Typo Spamtrap

Finally, let’s chat about typo traps. These are the trickiest to work with simply because you might hit them through your prospects mistyping an email address on a form. For example, I could type in [email protected] instead of typing in gmail.com…and someone happens to own gamil.com….which they’ve turned into a spamtrap domain and now think there’s something wrong with your lists. How in the world do you protect against that? So glad you asked, the solution to this is either Confirmed Opt In Lite or Confirmed Opt In, which I’ve written about in the past. With either of these options, you would be verifying that the person filling out that form is actively interested in your email, and does own the email address that you are sending to. You can also ensure that if someone typos their email address and it happens to be a spamtrap domain, you can keep those bad addresses out of your main database. It’s a win-win!

That wraps it up for today’s post. Come back for the final part in our spamtrap series: Spamtrap myths: BUSTED.

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