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Spam Traps

What are spam traps and how to avoid them

Lina avatar
Written by Lina
Updated over a week ago

Spam traps are used by the Anti-spam organizations and Internet Service Providers (ISPs) to identify spam emails and catch spammers.

Who cares if you're not a spammer? Unfortunately, even reputable senders might fall victim to a spam trap. So it's critical to understand spam traps and how to avoid adding them to your contact lists.


What is a spam trap?

Email addresses that have never been used or assigned to a person, or have not been used for a long enough period to lose their authorization, are spam traps.

Various ISPs allow different inactivity periods allowed:

Sending emails to spam traps indicates you didn't collect your consumers' email addresses following good practices. It makes you appear as a spammer to anti-spam organizations and inbox providers, affecting your sender reputation and email delivery. It may even prevent your emails from reaching your customers' inboxes.

Different types of Spam traps:

Pristine trap

Pristine spam traps are email addresses created by ISPs or Anti-spam organizations. They have never been used previously by a real person. While all spam traps negatively affect your sending reputation, the pristine spam trap is the most harmful one. Landing this type of spam trap in your contact list has a high chance to result in your IP address or sender's domain blacklisting.

Recycled trap

Recycled spam traps are old email addresses that are no longer in use by the original owner. The address has been abandoned for so long, that the provider has repurposed it as a trap to expose and block emails from senders who are not responsibly managing their email marketing. The recycled spam trap isn’t as harmful as the pristine spam trap, but can still cause damage to your sending reputation over time.

Typo trap

Emails with common typos, such as “gnail” instead of “gmail” or “outlok” instead of “outlook” can also be used as spam traps. It could be just a mistake of the person signing up but can still lead to a spam trap on your end. Typo spam traps have less severe repercussions than pristine spam traps. But it shows the sender doesn't frequently clean the contact list.

Where do filters get their traps?

Traps come from different sources:

  • Many ISPs monitor mail coming into non-existent addresses for domains they own.

  • Blacklists purchase domains to use as trap feeds.

  • Some domain owners donate unused domains to blacklists for use as trap feeds.

Dealing with spam traps

It's impossible to identify specific emails that are spam traps because this information is not publicly available. There are a few steps you can follow to eliminate spam traps from your list.

  • Segment out old and non-engaged contacts in your Audience and unsubscribe those. The best way to check inactive contacts is to create a segment based on customers' purchasing behavior and their activity.

For this, you need to go to the Audience → Prebuilt segments → Create a segment for inactive contacts:

Once your segment is saved → mark the Name checkbox → Select all contacts:

Then navigate to the Actions button → select Unsubscribe:

  • Implement sunset policy and follow it going forward. Avoiding spam traps, improving deliverability, and maintaining list integrity are all benefits of email sun-setting.

Tips for managing your sign-up process

  • Never ever buy an email list. First, it’s against the law to send emails to people who didn’t give you their Opt-in. At the same time, when buying a list, you don’t know if the email addresses were collected properly, so there is a reasonable chance you are paying for a list full of spam traps.

  • Use double-opt-in. By using double-opt-in, you can make sure an email address belongs to a real person. It is a powerful way to catch typos and fake email addresses that could be spam traps. More about double opt-in here.

  • Clean your list regularly. If you believe you have a spam trap on your list, it’s time for a thorough cleaning. Remove contacts who have not engaged with your list for 6 months.

Always remember to maintain a healthy contact list and to follow the best email-sending practices to ensure that your sending reputation stays on track.

If you are experiencing issues with spam bots or traps originating from Shopify, please contact Shopify support. These bots are creating accounts in your store or from the checkout page, and we are unable to control them. If coming from Shopify, all these contacts will have a source tag of "source: shopify".

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