8 Types of Email Spam Traps Every Marketer Should Know


Few phrases can cause an email marketer as much trepidation as "spam trap." These hidden, invisible, lurking threats can be hard to understand and suddenly derail even the best-planned campaigns. Countless hours of work can explode unexpectedly and lead to a damaged sender reputation, poor email deliverability, negative results, or even blocklisting. Spam traps are easily one of an email marketer's worst nightmares.

But a better understanding of email spam traps leads to more effective solutions. Let's get to know more about spam traps and their uses.

What is a spam trap?

Blocklist and email providers create and monitor spam traps to catch malicious email senders. A spam trap looks like an actual email address, but it doesn't belong to a real person. Its purpose is to identify spammers and those not using proper email list cleaning practices.

Legitimate email marketers using double opt-in for folks opted in to receive email and ReCaptcha on signup forms can still get caught in spam traps, especially if you are not using proper email data hygiene or acquisition practices. If you do get caught in a spam trap, it could affect your email deliverability, your sender reputation, your campaign results, and damage your brand reputation.

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So how can legitimate marketers protect themselves against spam traps? Regularly monitoring your email lists can help you avoid any damaging threats that might pop up in your email data over time. As tricky as spam traps can be to understand, they can be even more challenging to detect. 

Spam traps indicate an email acquisition or management issue necessary to address. Webbula has pioneered and perfected a comprehensive email hygiene solution that identifies these acquisition and management issues - before they become an issue.

Before we get into detection and prevention, let's take a closer look at the different types of spam traps and their uses. It is important to note that definitions and names can vary across the email industry depending on the source. We strive for commonality and ease of understanding in the following definitions with that in mind.

Recycled Spam Traps

Recycled traps are old email addresses no longer used by the original owner. The address has been dormant for so long that the provider has repurposed it to expose and block emails from senders that are not managing their email data responsibly. Hitting one of these traps indicates to the provider that you are not regularly removing inactive email addresses and managing bounces.

Pristine Spam Traps

Pristine traps are email addresses published on public websites but hidden so that normal users never see them. The only way to obtain these addresses is by scraping sites for anything that looks like an email address. If you scrap for email addresses or you've purchased a list (which often includes scrapped emails) - you may have picked up pristine traps. 

We never recommend purchasing email lists. Check out this blog on email acquisition best practices to grow your email contact list. 

Pure Spam Traps

These are email addresses that no one has ever used, have never been opted-in to any mailing list, signed up for a contest, or handed out on a business card. The only way pure traps end up in your email data is if businesses obtain them without permission. These emails are pure bait, left out on the internet to lure in bots or people that harvest addresses illegitimately to find them.

Pure Traps come with many very similar sub-type traps. These include Whitespace Traps or Dictionary Attack Traps, Honeypots, and Message-ID traps.

Honeypot Spam Traps

Honeypot Traps are email addresses created explicitly by anti-spam organizations and placed in various areas online to collect information about IP Addresses. Honeypots help combat email fraud and spam. They are deliberately hidden in websites, code, and forms to be picked up by harvesters, bots, and malicious actors. They are another form of bait intended to detect private and commercial unsolicited bulk mailing offenses. Overall, they work to reduce spam sent and received on the internet.

Typo Traps

These are precisely what they sound like, email addresses with a typo in the domain, such as @gnail instead of @gmail. These are the most common. However, misspelled usernames before the @ can also be typo traps. These commonly happen due to human error. When user data is collected offline and entered into your database manually, there's always a chance for mistakes. 

Message ID Traps

Message ID traps identify scrapers that grab any data with an @ in it, including message IDs. Emailing this trap will tell the trap owner that the sender is scraping addresses or buying lists from someone who is.

Dead Address Traps

These are previously valid emails recently turned off. All mail to these addresses was rejected for some time, usually 12 months or more, and then the addresses were turned back on. This type of trap was made famous by Hotmail and is typically what most people think of when they think about spam traps. Most major internet service providers (ISPs) utilize these traps to help identify senders with poor list hygiene.

Investigative Traps

These email addresses are created and submitted directly to senders. The reason for this isn't to catch a sender doing something bad but to monitor sender activity. This type of trap helps monitor ongoing sender behavior. Typically, this ensures that the sender follows opt-in procedures and uses proper email hygiene on their lists.

Safeguard Your Email Deliverability Email Marketers Must Deploy Email Hygiene Best Practices

Spam traps are a severe problem marketers face almost every day, and the only way to manage them is to keep up with good subscriber acquisition and list management practices. Regularly cleaning your list will help you identify hidden threats to your email deliverability.

Don't let campaign revenue drop due to email data quality. Spam traps are perfectly avoidable by following email acquisition best practices (don't purchase lists) and including email list cleaning in your email sending process.

Leverage Webbula Email Hygiene to help safeguard your sender reputation and email deliverability. Email verification providers can identify a valid or invalid email address. Still, only Webbula Email Hygiene can go beyond simple verification and detect the hidden threats in your email data. 

It's also important to note that verification checks can detect a typo trap, but they cannot detect honeypots or pristine traps. These are real emails, which will pass a verification test. 

Verification alone is no longer enough. Email hygiene is now the best practice. 

No one does email hygiene better than Webbula. We'll detect all the threats hiding in your email data that verification alone will miss. Period. Contact a Webbula data solutions expert today to get started.

Take a moment to learn more about the power of Webbula Email Hygiene.


These additional resources can also help:

• What's Hiding In Your Email?

• Spam Traps: Ignorance is NOT Bliss

• Webbula Achieves Top Ranking in RedPill Email Hygiene Guide


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