Spam traps are email addresses (or often entire domains) controlled by an ESP or anti-spam organization for the purpose of collecting unsolicited email. These addresses are not used for communication or for legitimate mailing list signups, so when a message arrives at the trap address, the receiver knows it can be treated as spam.

Spam trap operators typically publish these addresses on web sites where web crawlers will pick them up, so that they end up on illegitimate commercial lists. Sometimes they may also buy up defunct domains and let all the messages bounce for a year or two before turning them into spam traps, in order to catch senders who aren't cleaning their lists properly. In some cases, they may also register gibberish or "fake email" domains (e.g. asdfasdf.com, dontemailme.com), which your visitors may coincidentally submit to your forms if they don't want to give out their real email address.

Hitting spam traps negatively impacts our sender reputation, and can lead to our servers being blacklisted. Once a server is blacklisted, any email sent through it will be rejected by any recipient server that subscribes to that blacklist service. This affects all of our clients, not just the one who hit the spam trap, so we take it very seriously.

Tips for avoiding spam traps:

  • Never send to purchased, rented, or traded lists. The Envoke Spam Policy prohibits sending to contacts who have not given you permission to do so.
  • Do not continue sending to bad addresses. Envoke will automatically disable sending to addresses that have generated several consecutive failures. Do not circumvent this process by resetting the fail score without correcting the address, or by re-importing bad addresses.
  • Perform periodic cleanups of your mailing lists. Remove obvious fake emails, and consider unsubscribing contacts who have not clicked, opened, or otherwise engaged with your campaigns in a long time.
  • Be transparent about why you are collecting email addresses on your forms. Include subscription checkboxes so visitors can choose which kinds of updates they want to receive from you. People will be less likely to submit fake email addresses if they feel confident their address will not be used in ways they don't expect.
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