Four Types of Email Addresses Damaging Your Deliverability, and What You Can Do About Them

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In love and in marketing, you have to learn to admit when a relationship isn’t working—especially when the email subscribers you’re attempting to woo are hurting your performance numbers.

Email is a great medium for connecting with leads and customers. But when your list becomes bloated with bad addresses and inactive subscribers, it’s time to clean house.

Otherwise, you’re merely sending messages to bots and people who don’t want to hear from you, and you’re also damaging your engagement rates and deliverability rates, making it harder for you to reach the subscribers who do want to hear from you.

You’re even risking getting blocked and blacklisted.

So let’s look at the four types of offending addresses and how to deal with each of them effectively.

1. Invalid Email Addresses

Invalid addresses are unmailable: They don’t match any existing email accounts. You end up with them because sometimes people submit their contact information with typos. Others purposefully enter fake email addresses because they’re annoyed that they have to provide one to access a site, and they’ll give addresses such as “” or “” to avoid unwanted emails.

As clever as that tactic may be, it results in hard bounces for marketers who send messages to those fake addresses. Inbox providers monitor what percentage of a sender’s email addresses hard-bounce, and if the number goes above 2% or so, they can block or junk the sender’s messages.

Consider using an email validation service, and ensure your email service provider is immediately removing any of your addresses that hard-bounce.

Scrutinize any acquisition sources that produce a lot of problematic addresses. For instance, addresses collected via pen and paper often hard-bounce because of transcription errors, so consider using tablets to collect signups to reduce those mistakes.

2. Spam Traps

All spam traps pose risks to marketers, but the most harmful are pristine spam traps—email addresses created by inbox providers and blacklisting organizations to identify spammers. Inbox providers hide those addresses on Web pages; the addresses then get picked up by spammers who use harvesting software to scrape the data.

Because the addresses never circulate legitimately, inbox providers and blacklisting groups know that any sender who sends emails to these accounts either harvested the information or bought email lists from someone who did.

In some cases, having just one spam trap on your email list is enough to get you blocked or blacklisted.

Unfortunately, spam traps are difficult to combat because they look just like…