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Not Every Bounce is Created Equal

If you have ever been involved with email marketing then you are familiar with the term “bounce.” Marketers are always asking about bounce rate and working to improve it. But why? Email bounces can hurt your overall email marketing program, but not every bounce is created equal. There are soft bounces and hard bounces. Soft bounces are less worrisome and won’t impact your marketing program too much. Picture a dodge ball, when you throw it at a wall it comes back to you and it likely didn’t do any damage to the wall; that is just like a soft bounce. Now picture throwing a bowling ball at the wall, you will have a hole in the wall causing some significant damage; that is just like a hard bounce. The lower your bounce rate the better your email performance. Generally speaking you wouldn’t want a bounce rate higher than 2% as this can cause for deliverability issues. When someone leaves a company their email address no longer exists, an email sent to that address would be considered a hard bounce. Situations like this can happen often which is why you can allow for a 2% maximum bounce rate, but if it is more than that chances are servers have blocked you.

What causes a soft bounce?

  – The recipients mail box is full – The server is temporary offline – Email message size is too large (try to keep it under 100kb) All of these reasons are from temporary issues, which means next time you email them they will most likely receive the email from you.

What causes a hard bounce?

  – Email address does not exist – Domain name does not exist – Server has blocked delivery from you These reasons are final, meaning if a domain doesn’t exist then your email will never get to them. If you have emails going to instead of then these will come back as a hard bounce since is a non-existent domain. If your company is new to email marketing you have to let servers get to know your IP address. Here is an example of what is normal to see for bounce rates: Email Bounce If you have 3,000 subscribers on your email list that use email addresses and one day, out of nowhere, you email them all within minutes, AOL’s server will see this as spam and block you. You can reach out to the company and they will remove you from being blocked, but you will have to throttle your emails. Throttling is the process of sending out an email over a long period of time; 100 emails every hour until all emails have been sent. Each email marketing platform handles soft bounces differently. For example ExactTarget will send a soft bounce to a recipient 288 times over three days, if all attempts are unsuccessful than that recipient is considered a hard bounce. MailChimp however will let an email address hit seven soft bounces from seven different email campaigns before they are considered a hard bounce. ExactTarget will send to a hard bounce email address only three times, after that they are marked as undeliverable and will not get an email from you again unless you update their information. MailChimp will remove a hard bounce email address immediately from your list.

How can bounces hurt you?

  Your email has a reputation, high bounce rates can cause you to be blacklisted. Being blacklisted has the potential to completely destroy your email marketing. If you are blacklisted then how will you reach your customers? You can only throw so many bowling balls at your wall before your landlord kicks you out for all the holes you left.

Tips to avoid high bounce rates:

  – Keep your email list clean – Confirm that you aren’t sending to hard bounced emails – Look into soft bounces and check to make sure your email isn’t too large – Make sure you are only emailing people who have subscribed to your email – Check to see if most of your bounces are for a certain email server such as or; if so then reach out to them and ask them to allow your emails to be sent   Now that we have shared our email bounce advice with you, why don’t you sign up for our email marketing to get more great advice like this? Sign up here!    
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