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Hal Licino

How Your Dead Email Addresses Get Turned into Spam Traps

Apr 18 2011, 03:09 PM by

You’re an ethical, legitimate email marketer. You’ve never purchased or rented an email list in the history of your company and you are firmly committed to ensuring that every subscriber on your list has provided clear and unequivocal permission to receive your email newsletter campaign. One morning you show up at work and receive the news: you’ve had a block placed on your firm’s sending and your email marketing has screeched to a halt. How could this happen? Simply put, you didn’t keep your subscription list sufficiently updated, and one of those dormant email addresses has been adopted by ISPs as a spam trap.
Churn Rates Can Exceed One Third of Your List per Year
The churn rate of email addresses on your list can exceed one third per year. People establish and then drop email addresses at an alarming rate. The proliferation of “disposable” accounts such as Hotmail’s Aliases has made it easier than ever for your customers to set up an email address designed to be temporary from the outset. This massive turnover cannot only be attributed to flightiness as there are countless reasons why people dispose of email addresses. Perhaps they were interested in purchasing a product in your range so they subscribed to the email newsletters of all your competitors in order to gain a perspective on the various offerings. Now they’ve purchased the product and instead of unsubscribing from each list they simply terminate the address.
Resend to Hard Bounces & Get Lumped into the Spam Can
Unfortunately no matter what type of email address was terminated, it still returns as a hard bounce. Whether or not the address was an alias and the primary email address is still operational cannot be determined by the Mailer Daemons. All the ISPs (internet service providers) see is an attempt to send a message to a non-existent address and return it. Given that one of the primary identifying activities of spammers is repeated resends to dead addresses, the ISPs stuff these types of senders into the spam can and place them on the blockage shelf.
ISPs Adopt Dormant Addresses to Use as Spam Traps
ISPs will also select dormant email accounts at random and turn them into their own proprietary version of a honeypot, or spam trap. They know that anyone sending to that account has likely purchased or rented an old list and thus does not have permission to send, otherwise they would be aware that it’s a hard bouncing address. Legitimate albeit languorous email marketers fall into that trap by simply not keeping their lists clean enough. Ignoring a hard bouncing address leaves it on your list to gather more hard bounces until some ISP adopts that account as a trap and you’re busted!
Deleting Hard Bouncers Is as Imperative as Making Payroll
Your company must place the immediate deletion of hard bouncing addresses at a similar level of immutable priority as making payroll and paying rent. Any brand that relies upon email marketing can be decimated or even terminated by the blockage of its email marketing campaigns. In order to avoid this fate worse than corporate death, each and every hard bounce must be immediately purged from your list prior to your next send date without exception.

Reputable email service providers are set up to recognize addresses that are hard bouncers and ensure that they are deleted from your list long before they are appropriated by the ISPs as spam traps. At this high churn rate, ignoring your hard bouncing email addresses and leaving them on your list is like sending your email marketing campaign 90 miles an hour down a dead end street.

Posted in Tips & Resources, Lists & Signup Forms

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