Your email bounced – What’s your next move?

Email marketing may look simple on the surface, but when you get down to the nitty gritty details, it can start to become tricky. A normal business will test certain procedures, analyse the results and move on to the next campaign. There’s enough to be doing without analysing bounces right?

Wrong. Bounced email is important, and needs to be considered as much as open rates, click throughs and conversion are.

What’s a bounce?

A bounced email is considered as one of two things: soft or hard.

-  Soft bounce

The mail server that handles mail for this email address didn’t accept the message when we tried to send it; however, trying again later may succeed. This may be due to a full inbox, server delays, or if the message is too large.

-  Hard bounce

The email message has been returned to the sender and is permanently undeliverable. This may be due to an invalid email address (typos, domain doesn’t exist) or the recipient may have blocked your server.

If your email soft bounces, it’s not the end of the world. You may consider resending your email those addresses that have soft bounced, as the inbox may be available at a later date. Consider setting a limited as to how many times an email can bounce. Most email marketing systems will set a default of 4 soft bounces before the email address becomes supressed.

What you do need to worry about, are your hard bounces. Hard bounces can threaten your reputation. If your email hard bounce, it’s classed as a failure which doesn’t look good to the Internet Service Providers (ISPs).

Catch the offenders

A hard bounce is usually the result of an invalid email address. This can happen when a subscriber switched ISPs or moves email providers. Unless they update their details with you, you’ll have no way of knowing if they’re about to switch email addresses.

ISPs see multiple hard bounces as spam, as you’re continually sending emails with no response, which may get your emails reports as junk or spam which will ultimately damage your reputation, and affect your deliverability in the future.

If your ESP comes with a reporting tool, see which email addresses are continually bouncing. A small spelling error such as .co.ku or .cmo might be the reason for the bounce, and this can be easily amended.

 Email list hygiene

A clean email list is key. Clean your lists at least once a month, to ensure those repeat offenders are removed. Another benefit of cleaning your list is cost: there’s no point sending repeat emails if you’re paying for them, and seeing no return.

Again, this may be done automatically depending on your Email Service Provider (ESP). Usually, a hard bounce is supressed immediately, so that no further emails are sent to that address, but this is no standard practice.

If your messages keep getting bounced, it will only be a matter of time before the ISP notices and decides to blacklist you from the server. You then have the hard and timely process of trying to get yourself un-blacklisted – which isn’t always possible – so don’t risk it.

Related posts:

What is the best time to send email marketing campaigns?

Decisions decisions: Should you use Plain text or HTML in your email marketing campaign?

Don’t be shy of Dynamic Content


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Using GIFs in emails: Yay or Nay?
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