|Spam traps are email addresses used by Internet service providers (ISPs) to determine if senders are following poor list collection or maintenance practices. Spam trap networks are used to help make the Internet a safer place by preventing undesirable email from ending up in a recipient’s inbox.
This article will provide information on what spam traps are, how best to avoid sending emails to them, and how to work with SharpSpring in resolving sender status issues resulting from spam trap hits.
Regarding Compliance Emails and This Article
There may be times when you receive an email from SharpSpring's email compliance team that talks about spam trap hits and, potentially, restricting the flow of your mail. This can seem daunting, confusing, and even a little irritating. This is why SharpSpring is striving to make this process as easy as possible.
This article will provide the knowledge you need to understand the problem. Additionally, this article will lay out expectations on how to get past this issue with the help of SharpSpring's specialists.
Be sure to review the entirety of this article before responding to the compliance email. Doing so will help SharpSpring's compliance specialists better work with you on a solution to prevent spam traps moving forward.
Why Spam Traps Matter
Spam traps are email addresses used by networks such as ISPs and blacklists to determine if senders are following poor list collection or maintenance practices. When you send emails to a spam trap address, it is considered a spam trap hit.
Hitting a spam trap is harmful to sender domain reputation and puts the domain and sending IP at risk of being added to an ISP's third-party blacklist. ISPs and security filters use data on spam trap hits to help make the Internet a safer place by preventing undesirable emails from ending up in a recipient's email inbox. This means that a spam trap problem within your mailing lists could limit your ability to get mail to the inbox—even for those recipients who want to receive your emails.
As such, a spam trap problem is normally a list quality problem and is often the result of poor list collection or maintenance practices. Spam trap hits will happen on any platform you use, as this is an issue with the email addresses within your mailing list. Sending emails to spam traps will not bounce and they are not the same as spam complaints.
Overall, spam trap addresses damage your deliverability. Repeated spam trap hits will lower your ability to get email to the inbox, and it will put both you and SharpSpring at risk for blacklisting events. A single blacklisting event can take anywhere from weeks to months for a sender to recover from, these events often require letting go of a large portion of your contact base to rehabilitate your sender reputation.
Spam Trap Varieties
Spam traps fall into three categorizations: pristine, recycled, or typo.
Pristine Spam Traps
Pristine spam traps are email addresses created for the sole purpose of identifying spammers. These email addresses have never been associated with a real person, and therefore they have never opted in to receive email marketing from any company. If you have a pristine spam trap on your mailing list, it was obtained illegitimately and, if sent to, will cause harm to your domain reputation.
Pristine spam traps are placed on the Internet where they can be accessed by web crawlers. They may also end up on your list if you use email appending services. In addition, these traps may be triggered if you add email addresses to a list when guessing email addresses by following email creation patterns, such as assuming that an email address is email@example.com.
Recycled Spam Traps
Recycled spam traps are reclaimed email addresses that have been out of active circulation for a period of time. Once abandoned by the original owner, emails sent to these addresses would have bounced for a period of time. This allows senders the chance to remove the addresses from their mailing list.
Eventually, ISPs, blacklists, or other services will reactivate the email address in order to accept mail again. Any mail sent to the address will then be counted as a spam trap hit. As these email addresses are not active or tied to an actual individual—and should have been unsubscribed when they bounced—any email correspondence that is sent to the address once it is a spam trap is then considered to be sent without the explicit permission of the current owner.
Hitting a recycled spam trap is typically a symptom of sending to an old list that has not been actively managed to adjust for recipient engagement. You can protect your domain reputation by making sure to email engaged contacts and take advantage of SharpSpring's Engagement-Based Suppression Tool to prevent sending to unengaged contacts for non-essential email sends.
Typo Spam Traps
Typo spam traps are email addresses that contain common typos, created to replicate email addresses that may have been recorded incorrectly. Examples include firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com, as the domains used here are similar to popular email domains.
Typo spam traps are generally created when collecting email addresses at the point of sale. For example, when checking out at a department store, you may be asked for your email to sign up for a rewards program. An error occurs in data entry, and firstname.lastname@example.org is collected instead of email@example.com.
You can help avoid typo spam traps by using double opt-in for your email mailing lists. This ensures that email addresses collected will only be added to your mailing lists once a recipient clicks a confirmation email. As recipient addresses with typos will not receive the confirmation email, these potentially harmful addresses will be kept off of your mailing lists. Also, consider reviewing email lists on a regular basis to check for proper spelling and otherwise catch common misspelling of typo domains.
Why SharpSpring Questions List Practices
SharpSpring is your partner. This means that SharpSpring invests in tools and procedures to help identify issues with email sends that are likely to hurt your ability to get mail to the inbox. SharpSpring also has a duty to protect the sending platform for the good of all other senders.
Again, when you hit spam traps, SharpSpring will contact you regarding your list practices. The questions SharpSpring asks about your list practices provide insight into how the spam trap addresses could have have found their way into your mailing list. Once known, SharpSpring can figure out how to get them out of your mailing list. SharpSpring's compliance specialists are highly educated and trained in identifying causes for spam traps and remediation practices.
Why SharpSpring Blocks or Limits Senders
Depending on the severity of the spam trap issue, SharpSpring's email compliance specialists may feel it necessary to either block all of your email sending or limit the amount of bulk mail that you can send until improvements are made. These improvements are those that SharpSpring believes to be likely to solve your spam trap problem.
Be aware that, as an email sending platform that thrives off as much mail as possible being sent, SharpSpring does not make this decision lightly. Blocking or limiting senders will only be done if SharpSpring believes it necessary to protect both the sender and SharpSpring's own sending platform.
Again, continued spam trap hits will diminish your sending reputation with ISPs—and these hits could even put you at risk for blacklisting events. Blocking or limiting the flow of email for a period of time is sometimes necessary to prevent those events from taking place until improvements can be completed.
How SharpSpring Helps You
SharpSpring will actively help you with spam trap problems—but you must act in good faith and do so in a timely fashion. As such, respond to the email sent by SharpSpring's email compliance team with the requested information.
With all of the details and information, SharpSpring's specialists can quickly help develop improvement recommendations likely to solve the problem and improve the health your sender reputation. Improvements likely to solve the spam trap problem must be completed before SharpSpring can allow regular sending again. As much as SharpSpring's email compliance team wants to help, this part of the process relies on the sender completing the improvements within their mailing list.
Be aware that the specialists cannot provide tailored recommendations if you do not compliance email with the requested information. SharpSpring would prefer to give you a personalized improvement recommendation instead of a blanket recommendation. Blanket recommendations are unlikely to solve the issue without removing many contacts from your mailing lists.
Communication and Timeline Expectations
SharpSpring's email compliance specialists work to resolve issues with senders as quickly as possible. While they do their best to respond to emails and schedule calls as quickly as they are able, do understand if there is not an immediate response. Some spam trap events require considerable research in order provide you with tailored improvement recommendations. As such, the sooner you reply to the initial email with the requested information, the sooner SharpSpring's specialists can provide you with improvement recommendations.
However, the email compliance team does not have a direct phone line. As they are not directly a part of the Support team, you will need to reply to the initial compliance email you received. When replying with the requested information, you may also include a request to schedule a phone call if you would like to discuss the issue further.
While each individual compliance case differs due to the severity and cause of the spam trap issue, the average time it takes to resolve a spam trap hit is between 1–3 business days. Be aware that the time needed to resolve cases depends on how soon SharpSpring receives the requested information, as well as how quickly the improvements can be completed by the sender. That said, SharpSpring will always work with you with the goal to help you through this issue as quickly as possible.
Improvement Recommendation Examples
Each individual improvement recommendation SharpSpring provides will depend on your own email practices, industry, content, and the like. The following are examples of more common spam trap improvement recommendations:
- Unsubscribe suspect contacts. Contacts collected through methods known to cause spam traps, or sending to contacts with a record hard bounces, unsubscribes, and spam complaints from a previous sending platform will only damage your sending reputation. Unsubscribing these contacts is essential.
- Remove contacts who have not engaged with your content after several email sends. Spam trap owners very rarely open emails. A good method for solving a spam trap problem is filtering them out with those contacts who are not engaging. This is beneficial, as unengaged contacts are likely to result in poor deliverability even without a spam trap problem. Unsubscribing or removing those contacts from your lists can help increase your deliverability.
- Use SharpSpring’s Email Engagement Tool. The Email Engagement Tool helps suppress unengaged contacts from being sent mail, and it helps prevent sending non-essential mail to low engagement contacts.
- Engage in a reconfirmation campaign. Reconnect and re-engage with your contacts by confirming their continued subscription to your emails. At the same time, remove the contacts who do not confirm their continued subscription to your emails. Doing so will help to solve the spam trap problem. Additionally, it will help improve your ability to have your emails delivered to the inbox, where they can be opened and engaged with.
Preventing Further Spam Trap Hits
Even after taking to solve this spam trap issue, there may be subsequent instances where you hit spam traps. Spam trap addresses are constantly appearing or changing, so you must always be vigilant when sending emails. Preventing further issues with spam traps should always be a goal. Consider the following when maintaining clean contact lists:
- Configure and use double opt-in methods. Allowing your recipients to opt in is critical with modern marketing automation. Adding opt-in methods—like double opt-in—protects you. This is because those contacts who opt in are actively confirming their desire to be added to your mailing lists. Be sure to follow best list collection methods so only those contacts who have directly opted in are added to your mailing lists.
- Set up reconfirmation automation. This automation will automatically send a reconfirmation email to contacts who have not engaged with your content after a designated period of time. The automation will also unsubscribe contacts who do not confirm their continued subscription. Proactively reconfirming contacts keeps your list clean and full of engaged contacts.
- Utilize SharpSpring’s Engagement-Based Suppression Tool. SharpSpring recommends always suppressing Unengaged contacts. In addition, consider suppressing Low Engagement contacts for non-essential email sends. This is a proven method to getting more mail to the inbox—email which is more often opened and clicked.