How to Avoid The Email Blacklist Nightmare

(updated on 8/28/19)

How Do Email Blacklists Work?


There are a number of Spam Reporting and Email Blacklist services that ISPs rely on to limit the amount of spam that lands in customer inboxes. These services typically use spamtraps as a way to flag mail servers suspected of sending unsolicited email.

They monitor these spamtrap email accounts closely. When a piece of mail arrives, the sending domain and IP address of the mail server that delivered the message are captured and added to an email blacklist. The ISP then uses this information to suppress any incoming mail from that mail server.

What Happens When You Hit One?

When you get blacklisted, your email messages aren’t delivered, period. When this happens, your customers don’t receive:

  • Billing statements and receipts;
  • Discount offers and loyalty rewards; or
  • Anything else until you’re de-listed.

Depending on the email blacklist, getting off can be a lengthy process. We heard of one case where a company had to re-permission their entire email file get to de-list. Imagine how much revenue they lost during the days of negotiation! At then end of the day, the company had to reduce their file by more than two-thirds. What a nightmare!

How to Avoid the Nightmare

Does your company rely on email to drive revenue? If so, you can’t afford to have one or two bad emails throw a wrench into your operations. The best way to offset this risk is to gain the ability to:

  • Catch problematic email addresses like spamtraps; and
  • Correct typo’d email addresses.

Before they enter your database! This will help you:

  • Avoid potential blacklisting problems;
  • Decrease your bounce rate on new email registrations; and
  • Retain customers.

Looking for a solution? FreshAddress’s SafeToSend® email validation service is best-in-class.

Email Validation is Not Enough: Typos Can Get You Blacklisted

A few years back, Anti-spam agency Spamhaus put a Fortune 500 retailer on one of their email blacklists…for typos. On top of it all, they enforced the blacklist during the holiday season!

These typographical errors were from some type of a purchased or scraped list, right? No, they weren’t. According to the blacklisting report, customers provided their email addresses at the point of sale in the store. At some point between collection and deployment, they were incorrectly entered into the retailer’s database.

“The issue is that typoed email addresses are being associated with customer accounts and receiving all sorts of email (transactional and marketing both) without ever being confirmed,” wrote Spamhaus in their blacklisting report. Spamhaus goes onto state that “one solution would be to not send additional email to email addresses gathered at a point of sale for receipts. Simply send the receipt, then discard the email address.”

Not so fast. Most email marketers list point-of-sale as a crucial email collection point. If customers don’t want to hear from them, they don’t provide their email address at checkout.

Typos Traps are a Reality

Now that we know this, marketers need to re-think their email list hygiene strategies. Here’s what no to do:

  • Nothing. Ignore the problem.
  • Rely on services that only “ping” or “verify” that an email address is deliverable. This only confirms the email address is working. It can’t catch typo spamtraps. Remember, they are deliverable.

Typos are a fact of life and happen frequently.

Spamhaus went beyond its core mission of stopping botnets and fraud gangs here. As a result, a legitimate marketer lost a lot of money during the most important time of the year. Don’t let it happen to you! Spamtraps are a fact of life and email validation alone is not enough to protect you.

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