True to the adage “there is nothing new under the sun,” we’ve had a renewed rush of questions from B2B marketers about spam traps. I suppose it’s only natural given all of the attention that CRM data quality has been getting over the past few quarters.
Since its become a recurring question, we thought we’d address spam traps here.
Spam traps are email addresses (or even an entire domain) that appear to be valid, but have been created to use as a lure. Specifically, spam trap email addresses are usually only published (seeded) in areas hidden from view so automated e-mail address harvesters or “skulkers” (used by low end list vendors and spammers) can find the email address, but since no communication is solicited by the originator of the traps, any email messages sent to them are immediately, and automatically reacted to as unsolicited.
Reaction is usually meted out by automated anti-spam systems. The automated system can be set to block further e-mail messages with the same content (or from the same source IP address) arriving for other e-mail addresses, because the messages are interpreted as “bulk” or unsolicited e-mail.
New users of marketing automation systems who aren’t attentive to proper list hygiene before, during and after MA implementation often find their source IP addresses (as senders of email into the traps) blacklisted, thereby degrading the efficacy of their marketing automation system and marketing program results.
Many spam trap addresses show up in search engine results, and anyone can write to these addresses without knowing that all mail will be caught as spam.
Once a spam trap becomes tainted (when, for example, someone discovers what the spam trap email address is being used for) a malicious party could target traps by sending email to it and taking some degree of control over the automated process of determining what is or isn’t being considered bulk, unsolicited e-mail by the anti-spam system. They would then be able to subscribe a spam trap address to any legitimate email list and create havoc on a perfectly good subscriber list.
Again, only a solid, routinely cycled CRM data hygiene regimen can mitigate this sort of risk.