Welcome to our final post in this series, we hope you’ve learned some valuable tips to build your email program into a valuable company asset. So what are the next steps once you’ve established your email program? Below, we’ve outlined a handful of tips to help you ensure everything stays running smoothly as you continue to grow.

Spam traps and blacklists

As you grow your email programs and contact lists, you are more susceptible to sending mail that could be labeled as spam. In our Ready to Start Marketing? post, we covered the different definitions of spam and how to stay compliant. That brings us to spam traps. Also known affectionately as “honeypots,” spam traps are created by ISPs to monitor, identify, and lure spammers.

Spam traps are usually old addresses that were once used as role addresses (marketing@yourcompany, support@yourcompany) or email addresses that were once valid but have been repurposed for trapping spam. Tricky, right? Hopefully your startup is not sending spam, so how does a spam trap end up on your list? A couple things to look out for:

  • Purchased lists – You’ve heard it before, but spam traps are yet another reason to build your own lists to ensure all contacts are legitimate.
  • Old lists – Unlike your favorite fine wines and cheeses, contact lists do not get better with age. If you haven’t sent mail to a list in over a year, get rid of it—no need to let it ferment.

List segmentation, list scrubbing, and sunset policies are your best bets for getting rid of spam traps in your contact lists.

Spring cleaning—list scrubbing edition

After working so hard to acquire and grow your lists, it may seem counter-intuitive to get rid of some contacts. But removing addresses isn’t always a bad thing. Stale contacts may seem totally harmless, but lists containing lots of inactive contacts tend to lead to spam complaints, unsubscribes, and high bounce rates. Here are a few simple tips to determine whether your contacts need to be scrubbed:

  • Use your safety net – Most email service providers, SendGrid included, automatically suppress addresses that have resulted in a hard bounce.
  • Respect unsubscribes – Delete any addresses that have unsubscribed. Keeping them around won’t make them want to come back.
  • Check for human error – Comb through your lists for any typos, repeats, spam traps, and dead domains to remove addresses that will never be engaged.

Brush up on how to deal with old addresses keep your lists clean, and check out SendGrid List Scrubbing Guide in our documentation.

Sunset policies

Establishing a sunset policy is a great and effective way to address your company’s specific email problems and needs. Not only will a good sunset policy keep the spam traps away, but it will help improve your deliverability and list integrity—talk about a win, win, win! Here are the basics for customizing your email program’s sunset policy:

  • Define what an unengaged recipient is to your company.
  • Determine how long it is appropriate to send messages to an unengaged contact.
  • Decide whether to silently remove unengaged recipients from your lists…or try to salvage the relationship with a win-back campaign.
  • Implement and follow your plan as you continue sending.
  • Monitor your engagement and deliverability, and make adjustments where needed.

When it comes to a sunset policy, trial and error is your best friend. Experiment with your definition of unengaged, and document the differences between contacts who haven’t engaged in say three weeks versus six months.


As your email program grows alongside your company, it’s important to remember the fundamentals and maintain your integrity as a sender. Taking the right steps as you scale will help prevent issues once your email volume skyrockets. Think back to the first series in this post, when we covered choosing the right ESP. If you took our advice, your ESP is hopefully scaling with your business and your email program is more effective than ever. If not, don’t panic, switching ESPs is easier than ever.

We hope this series has provided a clear and comprehensive understanding of how a strong email program can be a huge asset for your startup business. Keep an eye on our blog for posts on deliverability, email marketing best practices, benchmark reports, and more.

Are you a startup looking for email help? Check out SendGrid Accelerate, our program specially designed to help startups get their email infrastructure up-and-running.

Lauren Alworth
As a summer intern on the Content Marketing team at SendGrid, Lauren is slowly but surely getting her feet wet in the email marketing world. She studies Public Relations and English at Boston University. In her free time she can be found hiking, horseback riding, reading historical biographies, and using the Oxford comma.