A Guide to Understanding Soft & Hard Bounce in Email Marketing

Soft and hard bounce in email marketing can trump your efforts. They lead to poor reputation scores. However, understanding how it works and minimizing its occurrence ensures that your message gets delivered as intended.

To avoid sinking your marketing efforts into a “bounce rut,” come with us as we explore bounces in email marketing.

What Is Email Bounce?

Email bounce is an electronic mail delivery failure notification that occurs when an email cannot be delivered to the intended recipient. It’s a non-delivery report or receipt. 

The reasons for bouncing emails vary, ranging from invalid addresses to full mailboxes.

What Is Email Bounce Rate?

Email bounce rate is the percentage of emails that fail to deliver on your subscriber list. 

Now, how is the email bounce rate calculated? 

To get the bounce rate, you’ll divide the bounced emails by the total number of emails sent. Then, multiply it by 100. 

There are two types of email bounce: soft and hard. More on them in the next section. 

Meaning of Soft Bounce

A soft bounce occurs due to a temporary issue with the recipient’s mail server. It means an email that bounces back to a sender after getting accepted by the subscriber’s mail server. 

Some of the common reasons for soft bounces are:

  • Large email message
  • Mailbox is over the acceptable quota (too full)
  • Down server

These issues are basically no big deal. You don’t have to do a lot to resolve a soft bounce. 

Hard Bounce in Email Marketing

A hard bounce is more complex. It refers to a permanent error while e-mailing. A hard bounce happens when a recipient’s email server rejects your email. 

Most hard bounces occur because;

  • A domain doesn’t exist
  • The recipient’s email server impeded delivery
  • The email address is nonexistent

A hard bounce in email marketing could occur due to other technical errors. We’ll explore more details below. 

Is There a Good Bounce Rate?

Of course, bounces are almost inevitable. Sometimes, people abandon their emails or encounter temporary issues. 

As a result, some bounce rates are acceptable and will not harm your marketing in the long run. 

black iphone 5 on white surface
Photo by Solen Feyissa on Unsplash

Research shows that the average bounce rate across several industries is 1%. For a business, a 2% bounce rate is reasonable. But once it rises to about 5 or 10%, your need to resolve the issues causing a spike in email bounces. 

Tips for Improving Bounce Rate

Are you tunneling in a rut of bounced emails? Then pay attention to the following tips. 

Get Permissions From Subscribers

Your subscription is the anchor of email marketing. So, build your subscription based on opt-in permission. By doing so, you ensure all emails are correct. And it reduces bounce rates.

Every successful email marketing hinges on the compliance of your subscription list.

Avoid Free Domain Send-From Address

Using a free domain send-from address can cause your email campaigns to be blocked or sent to the spam folder. Improve your email deliverability by using a send-from address at your business domain. 

Use a reputable service provider that protects you from being flagged as suspicious. 

Verify Your Domain

A verified domain screams credibility. It shows you are a legitimate sender with permission to send emails from the sender domain. 

You can authenticate your email with DKIM, SPF, or DMARC. Authenticating your email reduces bounce rate and improves deliverability. 

Don’t Send a Message That Looks Like Spam

Read every email campaign with an open mind. Does it look like spam? Would you open the email if you were a recipient?

Sending a message that looks like spam can severely affect your email marketing campaigns.

Spam filters may bounce it back. Ensure the content of your emails doesn’t appear suspicious or contain any words or phrases that could be flagged as spam by email filters. 

Always double-check your messages for spamminess before sending them out. 

Buying a Subscribers List Is Risky

This subheading says it all. Buying an email list yields fast results, but it all depends on your desired results. 

Positive or negative? 

Avoid buying subscriber lists as much as possible. 

Wrapping up

High bounce rates? Get your hands dirty and work on getting the numbers below average. 

Remember that a high soft or hard bounce in email marketing indicates a problem. These tips will help you identify and reduce the issues for better email campaign performance

Good luck!

Abir is a data analyst and researcher. Among her interests are artificial intelligence, machine learning, and natural language processing. As a humanitarian and educator, she actively supports women in tech and promotes diversity.

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