Bounced Emails: What Are They and How to Limit Them?

What are bounced emails?

A bounced email is what all email marketers try their best to avoid. Being bounced means that the email message was not delivered to the recipient’s inbox. Various reasons could contribute to bounced emails, some of which will be highlighted further along in this post.

You will often find email marketers discussing their email bounce rates. An email bounce rate is the percentage of emails sent out that were not delivered to and returned by recipient mail servers. To calculate your email bounce rate, all you have to do is divide the number of bounces by the number of delivered emails and multiply that by 100.

Email bounce rate = (number of bounces / number of delivered emails) x 100

According to Outfunnel, the benchmark for a suitable email bounce rate is 2% or under.

Hard vs. Soft Bounces

Hard and soft bounces are the two variants of email bounces that a marketer might face. We touched upon these, along with email complaints and blacklists, in this blog post.

Hard Bounce

Hard bounces refer to a permanent inability for an email to reach a recipient’s mail server. This can be due to a number of reasons including inaccurate email addresses, the email server not existing any longer or the recipient’s mail server is entirely blocking email delivery.

Unfortunately, there is not much you can do as a marketer to combat hard bounces. Your solution to this issue is to discard these email addresses from your mailing list. It is important to avoid numerous hard bounces by maintaining adequate list hygiene, as you might otherwise face blacklisted campaigns.

Soft Bounce

Unlike hard bounces, soft bounces are temporary issues that your messages faced during delivery. Soft bounces suggest that the email addresses and recipient servers are valid, but issues such as full mailboxes, the message being too large or server complications might have occured.

How to tell if an email is bounced?

Several things might indicate to you if you have any bounced emails. Generally, you will notice the date and time of the bounced email, an (SMTP) error message, a message ID specific to your email and your email service provider’s IP.

How can you decrease your email bounce rate?

Fortunately, there are steps that you can take to reduce your email bounce rate as much as possible.

    • Maintain good list hygiene: make sure to remove email addresses that provoked hard bounces. This post provides several tips on ethically and organically increasing your email contact list.
    • Avoid spam complaints. We have written about spam complaints and how to avoid them here.
    • Make sure your domain is verified.
    • Create engaging content: specifically that which resonates with your recipients and establishes trust.
    • Only email opted-in subscribers and make it easy for them to unsubscribe.
    • Regularly send emails: not too frequently and not too infrequently.