The best way to describe Spam Traps is by comparing them to mystery shoppers, you don't know who they are or where they come from (well you should know where your data has come from as it should be all opted in!) but they are there to check that you are doing things correctly.
Spam Traps in different shapes and sizes, here are a few examples: -
We all have different email addresses, some for work, some for personal use, we have loads! So it is only natural that we will eventually forget some and end up creating new ones. This means our old email address sits there gathering dust, unused. The ISP who holds that email, let's say Hotmail, will keep an eye on it and then after a certain period of time they will take it over and they will monitor the emails that get sent to it.
Other spam organisations will also look to purchase these from the ISPs to use for the same purpose, so that they can monitor companies who are using bad email practices and continuing to blast out emails to people who never open or respond to any of them.
First of all - Purchased Lists are never great, they have very fluffy opt in permissions to the extent that you as someone who wants to do email marketing, don't actually have permission to contact the end user. Somewhere someone has signed up for a newsletter on something they are interested in and there is a little box with a tick in it saying their data will be sold on (not as open and honest as that though!). So they are not great.
Depending on how this list has been put together could also mean that this data is old and very out of date. I can even give you an example of this which happened to us - someone started sending James (Our CEO) emails to our original domain which hasn't been used in over 5 years! How this got on to a list, we don't know but it was effectively spammed.
There are also their own spam list, sleeper emails put in by the list provider so they know when you are using it and if they should be charging you more money.
This is more common than you would think - this happens when you are quickly adding someone's record to your system and you misspell the email address domain IE intouch.co.uk rather than intouchcrm.co.uk. You then send an email to intouch.co.uk and they have a spam list which you are now on as you are communicating with a company who don't know you and don't have an email address to match - so a domain level spam email.
How bad are spam traps?
Some people take the opinion of "So what, I've ended up on one spam list - there are other people to email" - this is not a great place to be! While the impact can range from a temporary block, it could also result in a block of your ISP AND OURS! Which is why we take these things very serious and have strict guidelines on data. At the core of it, we want you to be communicating in the right way which brings you success and not issues!
How can I keep my data health and avoid these issues
That's simple, don't be afraid of cutting your database down and losing those people who never do anything with your emails, here is a great little guide on using our inactive contacts section so you can keep your database in top shape!