Spam Trap email addresses are not used by real people and if you mail to them your content will be marked as spam. 

This is why it is important for online marketers to practice good list hygiene

By doing so, the risk of sending emails to spam traps is also reduced.  

This will keep your sender’s reputation and deliverability rates healthy. Additionally, good list hygiene will reduce your email bounce rates.

So to be successful at email marketing, list hygiene is something you cannot overlook. 

Let’s discuss how you can best avoid spam traps and create better email campaigns. 

How Spam Traps Work

Before we can tackle the problem of spam traps we need to understand how they work. 

These are email addresses created by anti-spam organizations and internet service providers (ISPs). They are not used by real people so it is impossible for them to opt-in to an email list. 

Spam trap addresses usually show up on lists that are scraped from the internet or bought. 

In other words, the email addresses on such lists were added without permission. 

Emails sent to people without their consent are unsolicited and will be marked as spam.   

Such lists are mostly used by spammers but honey pots can end up on permission-based lists. 

Ethical marketers are diligent in their efforts to rid their lists of spam traps. This is what anti-spam organizations and ISPs look at when deciding what is or isn’t spam.

Let’s take a look at the various types of spam traps around. 

Types of Spam Traps

There are a few different types of spam traps that you must be aware of. These are:

  • Pristine Spam Traps
  • Recycled Honey Posts
  • Emails with Typos 
  • Invalid Email Address and;
  • Domain Traps

Pristine Spam Traps

Sometimes called True Traps, Pristine Traps help identify scammers who scrape the internet for leads. 

They are usually placed into website codes to be captured by email scraping tools

Recycled Spam Traps

This is an email address that was once valid but is now used to show if someone is sending spam.

When you see emails from these spam traps, do not click on the links or download anything. People have taken email addresses that are used for spamming and put them in your inbox.

Some examples of emails might come from people who used to work for a company but left. Others might be from people who live in another country. 

These will usually start with the person’s name and job title.  For example, salespersonABroad@.

Any mail sent to such an address will cause you to receive a hard bounce notification. If you do receive such notifications you should remove that address right away. 

Email With Typos

One way to tell if an email is a spam trap is when the address has typos like “Gnail” instead of “Gmail” or “Yaho” instead of “Yahoo”. This may be a simple grammatical error but will still set off alarms on your side. 

The consequences of most typo spam traps are not as harmful as Pristine Spam traps. But it does show the sender to be careless in failing to keep their contact list up to date.

Invalid Email Addresses

Invalid email addresses are those that have never existed or no longer do. They sometimes have an incorrect format as well. 

Mailing to invalid addresses will ruin your sender’s reputation. 

Domain Traps

The email world recently added domain traps. 

These are domains that have been dormant for a long time. Invalid email addresses are then added to the domain code. 

If someone tries to scrape such a domain for leads they will add spam traps to their lists. 

One tip is to watch outdated websites. 

What can I do to keep a spam trap off my list?

There are many ways you can get spam traps, but the most common ones come from bad email list management and upkeep.

The best way to avoid spam traps is to make sure you are adhering to these email marketing best practices.

Spam traps are email addresses not owned by real people, they are unlikely to engage with content. 

As such, one of the easiest ways to get rid of spam traps is to remove your inactive subscribers. Eg. people who do not click, open or interact with your emails. 

Here are 9 more effective times to avoid spam traps and maintain a good sender’s score. 

9 Effective Tips to Avoid Spam Trap

1. Do Not Buy Email Lists

Don’t buy email lists from websites or online vendors. Such lists are likely to have many spam traps and can be costly to maintain. 

The leads you buy in this way are normally shared between many people. 

This increases the chances of your emails getting marked as spam. And nobody likes spam. It gives the impression that you do not care about your leads’ privacy. 

Most of these leads will be unqualified to receive emails from you. This is because they are not familiar with you or your business.  These are unqualified leads. 

This is why it is best to build your lists organically by reaching out to your target audience. Doing so reflects positively on your brand image. 

Lists built organically have higher engagements, conversions, and click-through rates. 

2. Update Your Lists

Keeping your lists updated is vital if you want to have good deliverability. Your leads may change their contact information or simply stop using the info you have on file for them. 

Additionally, over time as your lists grow, you may pick up some spam trap addresses. 

You can keep your lists updated by:

  • Removing inactive subscribers
  • Segmenting Your Lists 
  • Reconfirming Your Subscribers’ details, and
  • Cleaning Your lists

3. Use Double Opt-in Forms to Collect Leads

Use double opt-in forms to ensure that your subscribers want to hear from you. If they are willing to go through the extra steps to sign up to your lists they will be more responsive to your content. 

That, in turn, means that more of your messages will be opened and read. 

4. Remove Bounced Email Addresses

A bounced email notification is a telling sign that there are spam traps on your lists. 

It can also mean that your lists need updating. To be on the safe side, remove any of your leads that cause your emails to bounce.  

5. Manage Your Inactive Subscribers

Inactive subscribers are of little value to your business. And some of these addresses may be converted into recycled spam traps. 

Avoid spam traps by removing inactive subscribers. You can also try to engage with them by sending reminders of why they joined your list in the first place.  

Ensure to remove inactive subscribers once they have not interacted with you for a year.

6. Practice Permission-Based Email Marketing

Spam is a junk email that most recipients don’t consent to and almost certainly don’t want.

Before sending mass emails, you should ask permission. If someone receives emails from you, it should be because you consented to receive them.

Ask for specific preferences or permissions on how often they would like to hear from you.

If a person is not interested, make it easy for them to unsubscribe. You can do this by adding an “unsubscribe” link at the bottom of your message.

This will help to keep interested people on your mailing lists.

7. Use Email Verification 

Use an email verification tool to confirm that all your leads can receive emails. This will help you avoid hard and soft bounces and protect your sender reputation. 

8. Clean Your List

Artist's impression of a digital marketer cleaning their email list

This is probably the most important tip on good list hygiene. 

It’s surprising that most email marketers never clean their lists. This is somewhat understandable as most list cleaning services are very expensive. 

That’s why we rely on Mailvio’s list cleaning service to ensure that we send emails only to valid leads.

9. Use a Reputable Autoresponder

Artist's impression of an email autoresponder

Email automation saves time and keeps you in constant contact with your subscribers. 

Ensure you choose an autoresponder that follows all Can-Spam guidelines and…

has a high delivery success rate. 

Some autoresponders may cause your emails to bounce or end up in the “promotion” folders. And they can also be expensive.

That’s why Mailvio 2.0 is our recommended choice


Email marketing is an effective way to interact with customers and prospects. 

But there are regulations you need to follow to protect your customer’s privacy and ensure your own success. 

You can achieve this by practicing good list hygiene and using inbox-friendly autoresponders. You’ll not only stay compliant but also get more from each interaction with your subscribers. 

Following the 9 tips shared in this article will help you get better results from your campaign. So ensure you do so regularly. 

Lastly, if you do nothing else today, ensure you rid your list of spam traps by using Mailvio’s List Cleaning Service.  


Steven is the co-founder of Mailvio and oversees the operations and technical strategy and implementations. Steven has been an online entrepreneur since he was 14 years old and has been running SaaS companies for the last 10 years.

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