Newbies to email marketing often wonder what it means when an email bounces. If you’re among these new marketers, don’t worry. Bounces are a common occurrence every email marketer must learn to manage. In this blog post, we’ll explain what a bounce is and delve into the key distinctions between “hard bounces” and “soft bounces.”
What is an Email Bounce?
Emails bounce when they are unable to be delivered to a specific address and are returned to the sender. This can happen for various reasons depending on the situation and type of bounce. Typically, bounces are divided into “soft” and “hard” bounces. Understanding the difference can make a major impact on your email marketing strategy.
What is a Hard Bounce?
A “hard bounce” is a type of email bounce that occurs when an email cannot be delivered to the recipient and is permanently rejected. Hard bounces typically result from issues that are unlikely to be resolved, such as:
- Invalid Email Addresses: This is the most common reason for a hard bounce. If the recipient’s email address is incorrect or doesn’t exist (e.g., typos in the domain or username), the email cannot be delivered.
- Blocked Emails: Sometimes, an email address may be blocked by the recipient’s email server, often due to spam or security reasons.
- Domain Does Not Exist: If the domain part of the email address (e.g. gmal.com) doesn’t exist, it results in a hard bounce.
What is a Soft Bounce?
Unlike hard bounces, soft bounces are the result of a temporary issue that prevents an email’s delivery. Common causes include:
- Mailbox Full: Similar to a hard bounce, if a recipient’s mailbox is temporarily over its storage limit, it can result in a soft bounce. This issue can be resolved when the recipient clears space in their mailbox.
- Server Is Down: If the recipient’s email server is temporarily unavailable, you may be unable to send to it. This can happen due to server maintenance or technical issues. It typically resolves when the server comes back online.
- Message Size Exceeds Limit: If your email message is too large to be delivered to the recipient’s mailbox, it may bounce. Use file-sharing links or optimize your image sizes to resolve this issue.
- Recipient Server Timeout: Sometimes, the recipient’s email server may take too long to respond due to server congestion or slow network connections.
Why Email Bounces Matter
Understanding the difference between hard and soft bounces is crucial for several reasons:
- List Maintenance: By identifying and removing email addresses that result in hard bounces, you can keep your email list clean and up to date, improving your email deliverability.
- Reputation Management: High bounce rates, especially hard bounces, can negatively impact your sender reputation. Maintaining a positive sender reputation is essential for avoiding the spam folder.
- Customer Engagement: Bounced emails fail to reach the intended recipient. Over time, this can lead to lower engagement rates and diminished campaign success.
How to Handle Email Bounces
Dealing with email bounces effectively can boost your list health and improve the success of future campaigns. Here are some steps to start with:
- Identify Bounced Emails: Use an email marketing platform that tracks bounces and categorizes them as hard or soft bounces. This will help you understand the severity of the issue.
- Remove Hard Bounces: For hard bounces, promptly remove the email addresses from your list. Continuing to send emails to addresses that hard bounce can harm your sender reputation. Try using a list cleaner like Zerobounce to root out any additional invalid addresses in your audience.
- Retry Soft Bounces: For soft bounces, consider retrying the delivery after some time. Soft bounces may resolve themselves, especially if the issue is temporary.
- Update Contact Information: Routinely encourage subscribers to update their contact info. This can help clear out invalid email addresses.
- Monitor & Repeat: Keep a close eye on your bounce rates as you continue to email your audience. Promptly addressing any sudden spikes can prevent further deliverability issues.
Bounce Back with Pure Firefly
Email bounces are a common occurrence in digital marketing, and understanding the difference between hard and soft bounces is essential. To take your knowledge to the next level, consider booking a strategy session with the email marketing experts at Pure Firefly. We can take a close look at your campaign analytics and provide you with actionable steps to improve deliverability, maximize engagement, and help you convert subscribers into happy customers.