Avoiding Spam Traps: Best Practices for Email Deliverability

Spam trap email deliverability

In today’s digital age, email has become the primary way to communicate. However, the key to effective communication is ensuring that your emails reach the inboxes of their intended recipients instead of being blocked or marked as spam.

One of the biggest obstacles email marketers face is spam traps. Spam traps are specifically designed to identify and filter out unwanted messages. Understanding these traps and implementing strategies to avoid them is critical to email deliverability.

In this article, we will delve into the world of spam traps, explore their types, and provide actionable tips for preventing them.

What is a spam trap?

Spam traps are email addresses used by Internet Service Providers (ISPs) to identify and block senders who send email to outdated contacts or non-targeted recipients. They are virtual traps set up to test your email practices.

Typically, spam traps look like legitimate but are not or no longer used by real users.

If you attempt to email one of these addresses, your sending information is automatically recorded and flagged as spam, potentially leading to a negative impact on your email reputation.

A more concrete example

Let’s say your company has dedicated email, but no one sends email from them, or there are problems with payment or use of the mailbox. These are then considered inactive and/or abandoned.

For a few months, they will be deactivated and emails sent to it will be bounced with a hard bounce code explaining that this mailbox is deactivated and that you should stop automatic sending.

After a period of time, usually a few months, the provider may decide to reactivate these email to set up the spam trap.

For example, if you continue to send marketing emails to these addresses, you will be considered a spammer.

This will cause ISPs to identify you as a spammer and block you from sending further email.

Most email software will automatically block sending to addresses that experienced a hard bounce. But it’s important to note that soft bounces can still happen. Also, sending software may not always be accurate in classifying bounces, resulting in some hard bounces going undetected.


Understanding Different Types of Spam Traps

Intact or primitive traps

Intact traps are created for the purpose of fooling spammers. They are typically hidden on web pages or in HTML code and are designed to look like real addresses. When a sender tries to reach one of them, the ISPs receive a notification and can take action to block the sender and prevent the spread of future spam.

This type of trap is also known as a honeypot or pristine spam trap. They can be used by companies to monitor their deliverability and evaluate the security of their email system.

Recycled or inactive traps

Recycled spam traps (also known as inactive spam tram) have been inactive for a long period of time, but are then reactivated to be used as spam traps. This type of trap is often created by reactivating an email address that was abandoned or never used, but existed.

ISPs use these traps to identify the senders of unwanted email, and trick them into emailing to these addresses. If you contact them, it indicates that you may be involved in sending spam. You can then block the sender to prevent future spam.

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Tips to Avoid Falling into Spam Traps

The impact on your email depends on the type of spam trap you encounter. Primitive traps have a greater impact than recycled traps.

If you email an untouched or empty trap, your domain, or IP address may be immediately added to a spam list. To avoid traps, it is important to follow certain rules.

Regularly Clean Your Contact Lists

To minimize the risk of falling into a spam trap, it is crucial to clean your contact lists regularly. Cleaning your contact list can include deleting inactive or obsolete email addresses, as well as correcting typos and spelling errors. It is also essential to respect unsubscribe requests and stop sending emails to those who have explicitly asked not to receive them. By maintaining a clean contact list, you can ensure better deliverability and avoid spam traps.

Use your own emailing lists

To optimize the deliverability of your email, the best is to use your own emailing lists. If you want to expand your communication quickly, it is tempting to buy lists. However, this is very risky because many lists for sale contain spam traps. By using these lists, you run the risk of compromising your emailing strategy.

It is better to build your list naturally by getting explicit permission from each contact. This will ensure that you have a quality list of contacts and avoid bad deliverability practices.

Implement double opt-in at registration

When signing up new subscribers, you can implement a double opt-in policy. This involves asking the user to confirm their email address when they sign up. This process ensures that the email entered is correct, but more importantly, that the user has chosen to receive your communications.

What is the logic of spam filters through these traps?

It is important for every email marketer to maintain good list hygiene and efficient contact management.

To do this, it is crucial to regularly remove invalid email addresses from your mailing list. Otherwise, you risk being penalized. If an email address has been inactive for many months and is still being sent emails, it is likely that it comes from a purchased database. (And yes, if that email is considered invalid and not used, how could it subscribe to your newsletter, for example?)

How do you know if your email frequency is right?

There is certainly a volume and frequency of sending that is optimal for your subscribers, but how do you know what that frequency is?

It depends on some of the following factors :

  • Your subject line,

  • Your content,

  • Your audience,

  • etc.

Your industry's optimal email frequency

While some experts suggest that sending an email marketing every two weeks is the ideal frequency, it’s important to consider the specific needs of your industry and target audience.

For example, if you operate in the fast-paced fashion or e-commerce industries, frequent communication, such as several times a week, may be necessary to keep customers informed of new arrivals, promotions or limited-time offers.

On the other hand, if you provide software-as-a-service (SAAS) solutions and are targeting a list of subscribers in this space, a less frequent approach is generally more effective. In this scenario, sending one or two emails per month allows you to provide valuable updates, highlight new features, and nurture your relationship with subscribers without overwhelming their inboxes.

Monitoring and Adapting

Ongoing monitoring of key metrics such as open rates, click-through rates, and unsubscribe rates is required to determine the right email frequency. Analyzing these metrics can provide valuable insight into how your audience is responding.

Email marketing tools such as MailChimp, Sendgrid, and Sendinblue offer statistics for evaluating campaigns. Key metrics to consider include open rates, which indicate email relevance and audience interest. Low open rates may indicate an uninteresting subject.

A/B testing can help determine optimal email frequency. Experiment with different intervals (e.g., weekly, bi-weekly, monthly) and analyze the corresponding metrics (like open rate) to uncover patterns and trends. Using data allows you to make informed decisions and continually refine your email frequency to improve engagement and conversions.

The optimal email frequency

What are the risks of too much frequency?

The risks of sending too many emails are that your subscribers may not have time to read them, resulting in lower open rates and higher unsubscribe rates. In addition, your reputation as a sender can be negatively affected if subscribers mark your emails as spam because they believe they are receiving too many emails from you.

What are the risks of too low a frequency?

One of the risks of low email frequency is missing out on sales opportunities. If you don’t email your subscribers regularly, your visibility is less important. Even if some of your emails are not opened, you are still in their inboxes. Fewer emails also mean fewer opportunities to be seen.

Finally, low email frequency can jeopardize your reputation as a sender. If you send infrequent or irregular emails, you are more likely to be monitored closely by ISPs.

How can you optimize the frequency of your emails?

Here are a few tips to help you optimize your sending frequency without compromising the deliverability of your emails:

Your subscribers are at the center of your communications, so it is essential to provide them with quality content. But to optimize your sending frequency, don’t hesitate to ask them for their opinion. They will be in the best position to tell you what frequency works best for them. You can then segment your mailing list according to the chosen frequency.

Allow your subscribers to change their mailing frequency. This allows them to decrease or increase the frequency of the emails marketing they receive, which can help prevent unsubscribes.

Test as often as possible! The ideal frequency or cadence for one part of your list may be different from another segment.


Finding the optimal email frequency is a critical component of a successful communication strategy. By avoiding over-communication and understanding your audience’s preferences, you can strike a balance that maximizes engagement, open rate and fosters stronger connections with your subscribers.

Remember, it’s not just the quantity, but also the quality and relevance of your content that will keep your audience looking forward to your next email. Continually monitor and adjust your approach to ensure your messages stand out and resonate with your recipients. This will ensure the long-term success of your marketing campaigns.