Survey Response Validity – A Guide to Increasing Deliverability and Inbox Delivery

Survey Response ValidityThe efforts you put in creating your surveys and designing your emails might never pay off since one out of every five emails you send might not even reach your recipient. If you email surveys – I’m sorry to say, but your survey response validity is at stake even though you might think that you have enough respondents for your survey sample size. 

One of the biggest challenges that email marketers face are low delivery rates, and while there are various factors that affect it, spam traps are one of the most challenging and most misunderstood.


Inbox providers use spam traps as mechanisms to catch malicious email senders and spammers. Often, senders with no bad intent get caught under the radar due to poor data or acquisition practices.

A spam trap is almost like a legitimate email address, the only difference is that it’s not. It doesn’t belong to anyone, nor it is used for email exchange. It’s only purpose is to identify spammers. 

Why should you care about spam traps? – Survey response validity

For all you know, surveys  you are sending now might be caught in spam traps and affect your survey response validity. If your emails and surveys are sent to spam traps, it indicates that you’ve used bad practices to get people’s emails or that you have been doing a poor job at maintaining a clean list. Inbox providers and organizations that fight against spamming consider you as a bad practitioner and that damages your reputation – and that is why your surveys are likely not to be delivered.

To get back on track and impact the bottom line of survey response validity, you need to understand the different kinds of spam traps to prevent them from ending on your email list. Laura Atkins, owner of Word to the Wise and  email deliverability expert and has put together a comprehensive list of spam trap categories.

The most common ones are:

1. Pristine traps are addresses that are available on public web sites, but not visible to a regular site visitor. Only people who scrape the Internet for everything that looks anything like email address will find these. This is how you pick up a pristine spam trap. 

2. Recycled Traps are types of email addresses that have been used by real people in the past, became abandoned, and later on became a trap by the inbox provider.

When an email has been sent to that address, the inbox provider bounces it, which to its sender is a signal to remove that address form the list. Responsible senders respect this request and remove the bouncing addresses, but some tend to ignore the protocol and continue their bad practices. 

It is the ISP’s response to irresponsible senders when they turn the abandoned email addresses into spam traps. After a while, the abandoned email addresses are not bouncing anymore, but they turn into a spam trap that indicating everyone who sends emails to it, as a bad sender. If you really care about your survey response validity – keep checking and look after you mailing list. Another way how you might end up picking up spam traps are misspelled email addresses.

HOW to know if your survey goes to a spam trap?

It’s tricky, as these addresses look like legitimate email addresses. However, there are a few tools that help you evaluate your sender reputation and show whether or not you’re sending to any spam traps. Microsoft’s Smart Data Network Service (SNDS) is one example for such a tool.


  • Don’t ever buy an email list. Just don’t. Your surveys won’t get delivered and survey response validity will be negatively affected. If you buy a list – you have no idea what’s in it. Don’t risk it. 
  • Use double-opt in. By using double-opt in you can check that if the email address belongs to a real person. This is a powerful way to catch typos and fake email addresses that could be spam traps.
  • Validate new email addresses. Use an address validation tool on your enrollment page to catch typos and non-existing email addresses before they make it to your mailing list. 


  • Deactivate bounced email addresses
  • Don’t be lazy. Keep checking your list and deactivating bounced email addresses, if your survey response validity matters to you. 
  • Manage your inactive subscribers
  • Chronically inactive subscribers aren’t of any value to your campaigns and some of these addresses are at risk of being converted into dead address spam traps. Be wary of holding onto these addresses for too long.

The spam traps could be affecting your surveys response validity, so I hope these tips will help you. Read more about how to increase your survey response rates.