Beginners Guide

Lesson 5, Spam traps & Honey traps

[Beginners guide to Deliverability] Lesson 5, Spam traps & Honey traps

Lesson 5, Spam traps & Honey traps

The key point here is your list hygiene or that of your clients. You can’t just drive your results with a good configuration, and a creative with great marketing. It helps, but its also about the data quality, and within that your list hygiene.

What is your list hygiene?

Your list hygiene in a deliverability sense is the condition of your list, and your management to try and prevent the list working against you. Often or not we are looking at such things as inactive members, repetative soft bounces, hard bounces and your unsubscribes.

For the purpose of this lesson i want to concentrate on inactive members and what part they play in regards to affecting sender reputation. The inactive segment of your clients database contains spam traps;

What are spam traps?

The two main types of spamtraps are called ‘Pure spam traps’ and ‘recycled spam traps’
A Pure spam trap is created by an ISP or an Anti-spam service for the sole purpose to catch spammers.
The email address is created and can be published on the net, the purpose is that any email sent to this address is from a spammer.
The creator of this address will never opt in to receive emails and will tend not to open or click your email so this is also hard to identify. You shall most likely know if you hit a true spam trap due to a blacklisting of your IP or sender domain.

Recycled spam traps are the most commonly known, this is when ISPs use old redundant email addresses that are now inactive (eg: havnt been used for 6 months) then the ISP takes control of them, and then monitors who is still sending this email address emails, to catch those who don’t manage their list hygiene. For example why would you continue to send to an email address who has never opened an email for 6 months? Why would someone who opted in to receive your email never open their emails? with the exception you could be facing an inbox placement issue.


If you’d like to know more about spam traps, there are in fact 5 others and this is explained here.

what are the drawbacks of sending to spam traps?

– ISPs use this as a reference point to determine how ‘clean’ a clients list is
– It shows a poor list hygiene and the client is not managing their list
– It also shows that emails are being sent to non openers perhaps on a consistent basis (ISP has this log, also available in ESP campaign reporting)
– Can cause blockages and blacklistings
– Typically decreases inbox placement
– Damages reputation of the clients sender from address and sender IP

they also contain honey traps;
What are honey traps?

Honey traps, most commonly referred to as Honey pots are just that.
Traps deployed on the world wide web for the purpose of luring an attacker or harvester in to trap them and monitor their activity.
For example hidden honey pots in websites that are unsearchable without bot intervention, put in place to collect details about the attacker, in regards to email deliverability, their domain or IP address. The information is used for a variety of reasons, one example being to test the security of a particular network, another to try and use bait to lure the attacker/spammer to scrape the email address, once collected and emails are then sent to this, the owner of the address then has various options.

The well known community project that concentrates their energy and focus onto this is; project honey pot which can be found here.
It is organisations such as these which try and reduce the amount of spam on the internet and as a minimum trace the source.

How can we prevent these from staying in our lists?

First and foremost the best way is to be cautious of the source of your data and ensure it is fully qualified and the emails have opted into receive your communication.
Lesson 6, Single Opt in, Double Opt In & Confirmed Opt in shall cover this in more detail.
It is possible that addresses are injected into your databases, there are always exceptions. In these terms if you hit at trap it is best to deal with the listing in an honest and open way.
Typically here you can work with the third party that has listed you and you can explain yourself and ensure you can refine your data collection process so it is more stringent.
The trouble arises when the dark philosophy of a marketer springs up, quantity rather than quality of data.

Now we have looked at some of the drawbacks of spam traps and honey pots, we need now to look at how we can reduce the chances we run into some types of these.
Fail to prepare and prepare to fail, fail to not qualify your data properly and prepare to run into issues.

Please go to the next lesson; Lesson 6, Single Opt in, Double Opt In & Confirmed Opt in.

By Anthony Mitchell

Anthony Mitchell is a Deliverability Consultant with ten years of experience in all areas of E-Mail Deliverability & Abuse Management.
A Blogger & Youtuber, discussing all things email

One reply on “Lesson 5, Spam traps & Honey traps”

Leave a comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.