7 Best Practices to Avoid Spam Traps in Email Marketing

Spam sucks. It is always almost unwanted by email recipients and usually contains illegal or offensive material. It also places a burden on Internet Service Providers (ISPs) because they would have to hire more staff or buy more equipment to block the ever-growing spam.

The good news is that there are spam traps – also called honeypots – that monitor spam email. Basically, they’re just email addresses that are not actively used but are monitored by major ISPs to identify or bait spammers.

But why should you care? You’re a legitimate business running an email marketing campaign. Surely, you won’t get flagged by these spam traps! Sorry to burst your bubble, but even well-intentioned businesses or senders can end up with a spam trap.

And these spam traps can cause your domain or your IP address to be denied, which eventually affects your email deliverability.

If you want to avoid the serious consequences of being flagged by spam traps and reach as many audiences as you plan, we provide you the best practices to avoid spam traps in email marketing. Here they are:

7 Best Practices to Avoid Spam Traps

1. Maintain a Good List Hygiene

For starters, you should keep a clean list. If you don’t take time to remove bad email addresses or inactive ones, you are likely to end up with a cluttered landmine field of an email list.

A good rule of thumb to keep your list healthy and warm is to remove invalid or unengaged email addresses every six months. We recommend that you also avoid sending newsletters to inactive subscribers, although you may plan to re-engage with them. More about that later. 

2. Send Only to Consenting Subscribers

Permission is a very specific topic when it comes to email marketing. It is verifiable, express content on the part of the subscribers to receive marketing communication.

And since it is an expressed consent, it means that when you asked for the subscriber’s permission, it wasn’t linked to another agreement. An example of express and clear consent is a checkbox that says, “I want to receive a marketing email from ABC company.”

Someone who hasn’t given you his or her permission is more likely to report the email campaign as spam. Plus, they are less likely to make purchases or engage with your campaigns. That is why it would be in your best interest to secure express permission.

One of the best ways to capture permission and avoid your emails from going to spam is to apply a double opt-in email process. It’s where you ask the subscriber to first confirm their subscription right after they gave you their email address in the web form.

3. Maintain Secure Databases and Systems

An up-to-date, clean, and secure database and system is critical for a good email campaign. It’s also important to achieve a good sender reputation and good deliverability.

Your database includes a collection of all the names, email addresses, and other important information about your subscribers and your system can include service-based software you use for email marketing, such as an email deliverability tool or an email automation tool.

To maintain a secure database and system, we encourage you to keep all your data in one central program or file. That way, you don’t have to search or update multiple files every time. 

Next, it would be best if you can provide insight into your database by using tabs, definitions of data, or clear descriptive names. Having selections in your database will also allow you to view a single database but in different ways, like by completed email campaigns, relation types, or by the target group.

4. Reject Subscription Requests from Role Accounts

Role accounts are email addresses that are not connected with a certain person, but with a department, company, group, or position. Examples of these are [email protected], [email protected], and [email protected]

These email addresses are not generally meant for personal use and when it comes to sending these role accounts with commercial-based marketing emails, you can’t control how many people have received your newsletter or who these individuals are.

Because of that, it increases the likelihood that someone may mark your message as spam. As such, reject subscription requests from these role accounts to avoid spam traps.

5. Avoid List Contamination

List contamination happens when a spam trap (email address) was accidentally or deliberately added to an unconfirmed email list.

To avoid list contamination, use email validation in your sign-up forms because this prevents typos. You can also use email checker tools as a way to verify whether an email address is legitimate or not.

Lastly, check the spelling of your subscribers’ emails as this would prevent potential spam traps and invalid email addresses from contaminating your email list.

6. Don’t Perform Email Appends

Email appending is a marketing practice where existing customer information (name, email address, phone number, etc.) is surveyed and compared with a vendor’s list. The purpose of which is to obtain the missing information. 

If that’s still not clear, here’s an example. Suppose you’re a marketer with an email list. Two of them are named John Bauer and Jeff Johnson.

You send them deals and business packages. The problem is that sending them email is slow and your response rate is not that great.

So, you go find an online marketer with a list of email addresses and take a look at their database. From there, you search for email addresses that may be associated with people who are on your list. And when you see  [email protected], you ask: “Could they perhaps be one and the same?”

Now you decide to add that email to your list (perhaps putting it into John Bauer’s contact details) and send your company’s next deal. What an inexpensive way to build a list!

While there are benefits when you perform email appends, like expanding your marketing options and reducing response time, we don’t really encourage you to do this. Because the owner of that [email protected] has not really opted into your email. You may be reported as a spammer and worse if the email you added was a honeypot.

7. Remove or Re-engage Inactive Subscribers

Removing email subscribers will enhance your email marketing campaigns. Or, you may want to re-engage with them. When done right, results can still be tremendous and can make a difference in your overall email marketing success rate.

Wrap Up

If you’ve made it this far into our guide, we can say you deserve a pat on the back. It’s because you truly care about your email campaign and the people receiving your messages.  The bottom line? Keep spam traps to a minimum or avoid them altogether for the overall health of your email campaign.