The dreaded spamtrap – why keeping your data up-to-date is vital to the health of your email marketing

4 minute read

Good quality data is the first step to successful email delivery and keeping your data up-to-date is vital. Not only is it essential to give you the best return on your investment, but sending to old data brings a whole list of problems that just aren’t worth the hassle.

What are the risks when sending to old data?
Firstly, your subscribers’ circumstances may have changed, making your campaign irrelevant to them and thus defeating the object of sending to them in the first place. Worse than that, your subscribers may not remember who you are, causing them to mark your campaign as spam which damages your sending reputation. But perhaps the most detrimental scenario is if an address has become a spamtrap, which you hit!

The dreaded spamtrap – what is it?
A spamtrap is basically an email address designed to catch out spammers. There are numerous types of spamtraps. The kind most associated with old data are addresses that have become inactive over time and later reactivated as spamtraps, usually by security companies, ISPs, anti-spam organisations and corporate email servers.

What happens when you hit a spamtrap?
Hitting a spamtrap can have very serious repercussions on your delivery reputation and sending channel. Your ‘from’ domain and sending IP address could end up being blocked by ISPs, causing your delivery rate to drop significantly. Avoiding them at all costs is crucial to the success of your email marketing. Unfortunately it isn’t as simple as just removing the offending address from your database, as usually it is impossible to identify a spamtrap, even after it’s been hit. Removing a spamtrap address can mean stripping down your entire database, so prevention is key!

So what can you do to help avoid those dastardly spamtraps?

  1. Always collect your data following permission marketing rules. Using data collected by any other means is not only illegal, and likely to give you zero return on your investment, but leaves you with no clue or guarantee of the data’s origins.
  2. Use what we call double opt-in or confirmed opt-in when building your subscriber base via web data capture forms, to prove that an address is actually being used by a human being. Our data capture forms have this built in, so when someone enters their details, they are sent a confirmation email containing a validation link for them to physically click to confirm their subscription.
  3. Send to your subscribers regularly to help you catch an address as soon as it becomes inactive. We receive a hard-bounce notification when this happens and our system will automatically suspend the address, preventing you from sending to it again. If you don’t send regularly you may miss this period of inactivity before the address is reactivated as a spamtrap. Regular sending also helps your brand stay fresh in your subscribers’ minds and ensures they’ll always be expecting your next campaign when it arrives.
  4. Keep hold of the bounce history – addresses become suspended for a reason. Deleting data from your account removes the sending history. Don’t worry, you won’t be charged for suspended addresses. If you do want to remove any data and you want to prevent yourself from being able to send to it again in future, you can always add it to your ‘Do Not Contact’ list.

Our coffee break guide to email delivery is a great place to start for more information. If you have any questions about how to gain new subscribers or if you are worried that your data may be out-of-date, our Support team are always here to help.