The term “trap” is very appropriate, in that these addresses are out there to catch people either not using proper list building practices, people harvesting emails, purchasing lists from a 3rd party, or marketers who have very poor list hygiene (whether knowingly or not*).
The 1st kind are used by ISPs and are usually addresses that have been dormant for a long period of time and this can vary anywhere from a few years to as little as 6 months.
These addresses would have returned a hard bounce during this time but now no longer receive email, other than to catch this sort of activity.
Generally these addresses will not result in a blacklisting because they may in fact have opted into your list at some point, but sending too many to a particular ISP can severely damage your reputation. It’s basically telling the receiver that your list is very old and/or you are not removing hard bounces properly.
When switching providers, it is paramount you make sure the data you are putting into the new system is as clean as possible.
You need to know exactly how your provider is handling your hard bounces.
I have seen this happen many times, where a company who has been sending for years to a clean list changes providers and for whatever reason, the hard bounces get uploaded again as ‘available’ – which is obviously extremely bad and opens the flood gates for traps.
Have they been removing them or just ‘labelling’ them (which would mean they are still in the list on export)? Some providers can also assign a numerical value to an email address status, which only their system can recognise so you need to be very careful not to import these into the new system.
The 2nd kind of trap is the worst and the most damaging. These are addresses that exist for the sole purpose of getting your IP(s) and/or Domain blacklisted.
These trap addresses are kept secret to protect their identity and are released to no one. Why? Well making them public would render them rather useless if you think about it.
They are used by Blacklists to catch people harvesting email addresses off the internet or people purchasing lists from a 3rd party. People who have been blacklisted saw a significant decrease in their delivery rate and it severely damaged their reputation.
Bye for now,
Kevin Huxham, Director of Deliverability
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