When was the last time you cleaned up your email marketing contact list? We know you work hard to collect client and prospect contact information, but when was the last time you took a hard look at who is receiving your email marketing? An email marketing best practice is to ensure your list contains high quality email addresses instead of just a high quantity. Ignoring the maintenance of your list can have far-reaching consequences: if the quality of your list comes into question, your domain’s reputation could take a hit, and you may end up being labeled as a spam trapper.

What Is A Spam Trap?
Let’s take a step back and review what a spam trap is. Spam traps are email addresses that are no longer in use, but are still being actively monitored by Internet Service Providers (ISPs). ISPs work hard to block spam, or unwanted email, from reaching user inboxes. So much so that most ISPs maintain internal blacklists of domains that they suspect of being spammers. Spam traps are email addresses that technically don’t exist and, therefore, an ISP will find any domain that sends email to a defunct email address suspicious.

Why Does It Matter?
It’s easy to fall victim to a spam trap. If you haven’t reviewed your contact list in a few years, there’s a decent chance that some of your contacts have changed jobs or that a company on your list doesn’t exist anymore. If you continue to send emails to those defunct email addresses, you may be flagged by an ISP as a spammer and possibly blacklisted. If this happens, your domain’s reputation can take a serious hit. Ultimately, your marketing emails may get flagged as spam and won’t be delivered to the legitimate email addresses on your list, stifling your marketing efforts. Ending up in people’s junk mail boxes not only lessens the effectiveness of your marketing message, but it also undermines your email marketing budget and slashes your ROI.

How Do I Avoid Spam Traps?
The best way to avoid spam traps is by making a concerted effort to keep your email marketing contact lists clean. Update your lists by removing your current spam traps—outdated or invalid email addresses. Start this process by examining your last email marketing piece’s analytics. (If you’re using EO’s platform, select “Track” to the right of your latest blast’s title on your dashboard.) These metrics should provide all of the information you need to get started.

For EO clients, review the “Failed” tab and look to the last column for the reason of the failed attempt. Here’s a quick review of each reason:

Hard Bounce – Your email is permanently undeliverable to the specified email address due to address/domain errors or the status of the inbox (ex: invalid email address; account disabled/closed; bad domain; unknown user; etc.).

Soft Bounce – Your email is temporarily undeliverable to the specified email address due to the recipient’s current mailbox status (ex: mailbox full; server too busy; etc.).

Block – Your email was purposefully blocked by the recipient’s domain or ISP. If you are inaccurately labeled as a spammer by the recipient’s ISP (due to a spam trap or for other reasons), you likely will see “Block” as the reason in your analytics.

Technical – Your email can’t be delivered due to technical issues (ex: server down/DNS issues; data format error; network error; etc.).

Unknown – Your email was delivered but could not be tracked further for unknown reasons.

Focus on removing the “Hard Bounce” accounts and “Blocked” addresses from your lists. You can also check to see if any of the deliveries failed due to a simple typo in the address, some of which are easy to spot and correct. A good rule of thumb is to never rely on purchased lists, as they typically include spam trap addresses.

An email marketing best practice is to review your failed email attempts after every email blast to ensure you continually work to improve your contact lists. Doing so should help you avoid spam traps in the future, keeping your domain’s reputation stellar and maximizing deliverability.

For more information on how to best maintain a healthy email marketing contact list or to learn more about EO’s platform analytics, contact Evolved Office today.