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What an Email Marketer Should Do If They Hit A Spam Trap

What an Email Marketer Should Do If They Hit A Spam Trap

What an Email Marketer Should Do If They Hit A Spam Trap

According to Wikipedia, “A spam trap is a honeypot used to collect spam. Spamtraps are usually e-mail addresses that are created not for communication, but rather to lure spam. In order to prevent legitimate email from being invited, the e-mail address will typically only be published in a location hidden from view such that an automated e-mail address harvester (used by spammers) can find the email address, but no sender would be encouraged to send messages to the email address for any legitimate purpose. Since no e-mail is solicited by the owner of this spamtrap e-mail address, any e-mail messages sent to this address are immediately considered unsolicited.”

For a more detailed definition of a ‘spam trap’, look here:

If you triggered a spam trap, then your deliverability just got shot out the window. Not only will your email be sent to junk, it will most likely be blocked entirely. The percentage of how much will be determined on which blacklist you triggered. More than likely, if you hit one, you will hit at least two more. So what does one do when they hit a trap?

Step 1
Have your optin list manager queried and ready for documentation proof. Your ESP will need to provide their ISP or upstream the optin information for the particular trap that was hit. In most cases, the upstream will side with the blacklist owner.

Another probability is that the trap itself was never optin to anything, so providing any type of optin information will be useless. If you are white listed and your subscribers know who you are, then fight the accusation with optin information. Be speedy and quick to respond to your ESP and ISP. The longer you wait, the more they think you are looking around for optin information from others.

Step 2
Check for other blacklistings. There are many tools where you can enter your domain or IP address to check for blacklistings. I am not going to promote any of them because how can you trust that a spam fighter hasn’t programmed the blacklist query server (do they own it?). Regardless, you will need to find a blacklist checking program and find out where you are listed so you can protest or fight the accusation.

Step 3
Contact your email service provider right away. The ESP is the one who takes the biggest hit from the upstream and/or spam fighters. If you contact your ESP before they get pressured from a protest, then you more than likely will be able to save that relationship. Keep in constant communication with your ESP and your deliverability scores. Suspended accounts will ruin your reputation fast in this industry.

Step 4
Go directly to the blacklist website and look for the removal options. Each blacklist has a fair way to remove your listing. If you are spamming, they know it. If you are not, they know it too. Be honest with them and nice. Never call them or try and expedite the process. The odds that you are on their list is/are pretty high that you have spammed them, so make sure they know that you are not going to be mailing to that list again. They do not want to hear that you are cleaning it up either. Spam fighters think email list hygiene is enabling spam. Suck it up and be patient. Follow their rules and wait to be removed on their timing.

Step 5
Be silent and patient. Do not post on Usenet groups like NANAE for removal. Most forums on or about spam fighting are traps in themselves. If you send a request for removal, they will ridicule and mock how stupid you are. They will make sure you understand that you have not done your homework and have ultimately just proved to them that you are in fact a spammer. They will mock, DOX and add your IPs to their network without hesitation while setting reminders every 6 months to check on you. Wait it out and do not post anything online.


James Carner is the premier private investigator of spam advisories. He held sales and marketing positions for software and telephony giants such as Epicor Software and Lucent Technologies in the 90’s, and for the past 25 years, James has serviced publishers and affiliates with email assistance, dynamic offers, targeted data, effective landing pages, form page leads and since 2009, has been exclusively performing real time API email list hygiene for select customers with and

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