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How Email Validation Works: Spam Trap Detection

Posted by Brian Cardona

September 29, 2014

email_spam_trapRemember back in grade school when a few misbehaving students would cheat on an exam and the teacher would re-test the entire class? Even though you may not have been a part of the offending group, you still had to suffer the consequences. This is precisely what is happening with spam traps. Even if you’re not sending spam messages to your marketing lists, you could still end up blocked by providers due to spam traps.

These traps penalize companies who reach their email inbox by reporting their sending address as spam. Email providers pick up on these trends and use automatic filters to push incoming messages directly to a user’s spam box where, more often than not, they’ll remain unseen and unopened. Email validation can assist you in removing traps from your coveted list.

How Do Spam Traps Get On My List?

When it comes to improving deliverability, the first step is to follow the rules. Much like search engine providers updating their algorithm to block illegitimate SEO practitioners, ISPs and anti-spam organizations are always working to stay a step ahead of unethical emailing tactics. So while shortcuts may sound appetizing, inadvertently acquiring a spam trap can decrease deliverability and inevitably block you from your customers. Unfortunately, unless you remain vigilant, even rule-followers can be penalized.

Spam traps are not easy to spot. That’s because they’re real working email addresses. There is generally nothing that would seem unusual about their appearance. Often, spam traps are formerly inactive addresses that were abandoned by their creators. In some cases, spam traps may end up on a public list, which may have made its way into your CRM. That’s exactly why, without proper list hygiene, you could become a victim of these traps.

If you send an email to a spam trap address, one of two things can happen. Best case scenario: The ISP will deliver a hard bounce, and you’ll have an opportunity to remove the offending email address from your list before it is marked as spam. Worst case scenario: Your “from domain” could be blacklisted by email providers. Either way, spam traps can cause serious harm to your sender reputation.

How Does Email Validation Detect Traps?

If a spam trap was created from a recycled email address, the ISP will report any message as a hard bounce. This will negatively affect your deliverability. However, Towerdata also uses this information to your benefit. Because our database monitors the trends of millions of contacts, we can predict the likelihood that an email will be returned as a hard bounce. We then isolate these addresses in real-time and offer you the opportunity to remove them from your list.

Additionally, email validation predicts the likelihood that an email will be opened by active addresses. If an address has not engaged with a single message over a long period of time but still remains active, the scoring process will alert you. That way, you can filter email addresses that could become inactive and eventually recycled into future spam traps.

However, it’s important to remember that email validation is not a one-and-done solution nor is it a catch-all for spam traps. While Towerdata’s real-time email verification API or automated batch processing can certainly help to navigate around traps, it’s important that companies focus on organic address acquisition and regular list cleaning as well.

Want help avoiding spam traps and improve your email deliverability? Get a free email validation report from TowerData!

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