Permissions & Deliverability

What is a spam trap email address? And why are they important for email marketers?

Cai EllisRobert Brandl

By Cai & Robert

What is a spam trap email address

A spam trap email address is a tool used by Internet Service Providers (ISPs), Email Service Providers (ESPs), and anti-spam organizations (such as Spamhaus) to identify and filter out spam emails.

These addresses are set up specifically to catch spammers in the act and are not used for any legitimate communication.

Sending an email to a spam trap address can significantly harm the sender's email reputation, delivery rate and overall deliverability. And understanding how spam traps work and how to avoid them is crucial for maintaining a healthy email marketing strategy.

Types of Spam Trap Email Addresses

There are a few different types of spam traps:

1. Pristine Spam Traps

Pristine spam traps are email addresses that have never been used for communication and have never been voluntarily provided to any email list.

They are typically hidden in websites where only automated email address harvesters (used by spammers to collect email addresses) can find them.

Sending an email to a pristine spam trap indicates that the sender is using poor list acquisition practices, such as buying email lists or scraping websites for addresses.

2. Recycled Spam Traps

Recycled spam traps are old, abandoned email addresses that were once valid but have been inactive for a long time. ISPs or anti-spam organizations reactivate these addresses to use as spam traps.

Sending to recycled spam traps suggests that the sender is not maintaining their email list properly, failing to remove inactive or unengaged subscribers.

3. Typo Spam Traps

Typo spam traps are created from email addresses that contain common typos made by users when entering their email addresses online (for example, “” instead of “”).

These are set up to catch senders who do not validate email addresses upon collection. Contacting a typo spam trap indicates a lack of proper list hygiene practices.

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What will happen if your emails hit Spam Traps?

If the emails you send hit spam traps, it can lead to several negative consequences for your email sending reputation and the overall effectiveness of your email marketing campaigns.

The impact varies depending on the type of spam trap hit and your overall email sending practices.

Here are some potential outcomes:

1. Damage to Email Reputation

Hitting a spam trap is a signal to ISPs and ESPs that your email sending habits might not be compliant with best practices. This can lower your sender score, a rating used by ISPs and ESPs to determine the trustworthiness of your emails.

2. Increased Email Filtering

As your email reputation suffers, your emails are more likely to be filtered directly into spam folders, significantly reducing the chances that your audience will see and engage with your messages. This decreases the effectiveness of your email marketing efforts.

3. Blacklisting

In severe cases, if you hit enough spam traps or are identified as a consistent source of spam, your sending IP address or domain might be added to one or more email blacklists.

Blacklists are used by email providers to block emails from known spammers. Being blacklisted can severely impact your ability to deliver emails, not just to one provider but potentially across multiple networks.

4. Lowered Deliverability Rates

A direct consequence of damaged reputation and potential blacklisting is a drop in email deliverability rates. This means a higher percentage of your emails will not reach their intended recipients, impacting your ability to communicate with your audience.

5. Legal and Financial Repercussions

In some jurisdictions, sending spam can lead to legal consequences, especially if your practices violate laws like the CAN-SPAM Act in the United States or the GDPR in the European Union.

Additionally, if you're using a paid email service provider, your account might be suspended or terminated, potentially leading to financial loss and the need to find alternative providers.

How to respond if your emails hit Spam Traps

If you suspect or know that your emails have hit a spam trap, it's important to take immediate action to mitigate the damage and prevent future occurrences. Such steps could include:

  • Conduct an audit of your email list to identify and remove any questionable addresses.
  • Enhance your list management practices, such as implementing double opt-in procedures and regularly cleaning your list of inactive subscribers.
  • Consult with an email deliverability expert to identify specific issues and develop a plan to address them (try our deliverability audit).

How to avoid Spam Traps

To avoid hitting spam traps and damaging your email reputation, follow these best practices:

  • Regularly clean your email list: Remove inactive subscribers and regularly validate the email addresses on your list.
  • Implement double opt-In: This ensures that the email address provided by a subscriber is valid and that the subscriber genuinely wants to receive emails from you.
  • Avoid buying email lists: These lists often contain spam traps and low-quality addresses. Use legit list building strategies instead.
  • Use email validation tools: Before adding new addresses to your list, use tools to check their validity.
  • Monitor engagement: Regularly review your email campaign metrics to identify and remove unengaged subscribers.

Adhering to these practices can help you maintain a healthy email list, improve your deliverability, and avoid the negative consequences of hitting spam traps.

The authors

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Cai Ellis

SEO Manager

Hi! My name is Cai, and I've worked in digital marketing for many years. More recently, I've been concentrating on email marketing, through testing tools and writing guides. And I've also picked up a bit of SEO know-how along the way! If you've got questions about these or any related subjects, I'll be happy to help!

Robert Brandl

Founder and CEO

Hello! I'm Robert, an email marketing expert with over 15 years of experience. After honing my skills at an agency by serving major corporations, I founded EmailTooltester as a passion project to help small and medium-sized businesses. Connect with me on LinkedIn where I regularly share my best email marketing knowledge.

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This article has been written and researched following our EmailTooltester methodology.

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