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How to Avoid Spam Traps

Updated: Dec 28, 2018

Spam traps are a type of fraud management tool, used by major Internet Service Providers (ISPs) and blacklist providers to identify and block spammers.

Any seasoned email marketer knows that if you send out enough emails, you will inevitably encounter spam filter issues. About 21% of all emails, even legitimate ones end up in junk folders.

Most internet service providers have really stepped up their game over the last 5 years when it comes to keeping junk out of their customers' inboxes. Since spam issues, at some point will become your issue, it is important that you familiarize yourself with what spam is.

What is spam

Spam can simply be defined as unsolicited email sent out to a large number of recipients. Most spam is commercial advertising, often for dubious products, get-rich-quick schemes, or quasi-legal services. Spam costs the sender very little to send -- most of the costs are paid for by the recipient or the carriers rather than by the sender. Quite frankly, sending any user commercial offers when they have not expressed an interest or given you permission to send them offers can be considered spam.

Spam Laws

The CAN-SPAM Act of 2003 became law on January 1, 2004. According to the FTC, if you violate the law, you could be fined $11,000 for each offense—that’s $11,000 for each email address on your list. ISPs around the country have already successfully sued spammers for millions of dollars under this law.

If you send commercial email (generally sales or promotional content), you should familiarize yourself with the requirements of CAN-SPAM. A few key points of the law include: Never use deceptive headers, From names, reply-to addresses, or subject lines.Always provide an unsubscribe link.

The unsubscribe link must work for at least 30 days after sending. You must include your physical mailing address. Canada’s Anti-Spam Legislation (CASL) went into effect on July 1, 2014 and carries penalties of $1-10M per violation. CASL is very similar to the CAN-SPAM Act, but has some minor differences and covers all electronic messages, not just email.

Spam Filters

A spam filter is a program that is used to detect unsolicited and unwanted email and prevent those messages from getting to a user's inbox. Like other types of filtering programs, a spam filter looks for certain criteria on which it bases judgments.

For example, the simplest and earliest versions (such as the one available with Microsoft's Hotmail) can be set to watch for particular words in the subject line of messages and to exclude these from the user's inbox.

This method is not especially effective, too often omitting perfectly legitimate messages (these are called false positives) and letting actual spam through. More sophisticated programs, such as Bayesian filters or other heuristic filters, attempt to identify spam through suspicious word patterns or word frequency.

Best Practices

Permission is everything in email marketing. Always get permission from the contacts on your list before you send them email messages. Without permission, you could get reported for spamming even if you are a legitimate company.

Opt-in method

Our basic signup forms, by default, uses the double opt-in method. Double opt-in is valuable because you’ll know (and have proof) that each and every recipient gave you permission to send them emails. But there are a number of other popular signup methods (API, integrations, etc) that allow for single opt-in, and we certainly are not discounting the validity of those, either. Ultimately, the most important thing is that your recipients give you permission to email them. You’ll need to consider your audience and the applicable legal requirements in your area to determine which opt-in method is right for you.

Do not buy email lists

This is a mistake most new email marketers and small business owners make all the time. Sure, it seems like a no-brainer. Buy a list of emails, send out and offer, and voila, the money starts pouring in. This story never ends this way. All buying a list of unsuspecting prospects will do is get your email address black-listed, thus causing all your email messages to end up in junk mail. Take your tie to build your won list of email contacts to ensure future success.

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