Zerobounce

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What is an Email Bounce?

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.

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How to Use Zerobounce for Email List Cleaning

Maintaining a clean contact list is crucial for email marketers. Thankfully, several tools and services offer you a clean list in an instant. Zerobounce is one of the most reliable among these options. In this blog post, we’ll provide a comprehensive guide to using Zerobounce, from uploading your audience file to interpreting the results. For more list-cleaning tips, book a training with one of Pure Firefly’s email experts!

What is Zerobounce?

Zerobounce is an email validation platform designed to improve the quality of your email lists. Basically, you upload the email addresses, and Zerobounce tells you which are worth contacting! Their software uses advanced algorithms and an extensive database to root out invalid email addresses, spam traps, and other low-quality contacts. After getting a full analysis of your list from Zerobounce, you can remove risky contacts in order to boost both engagement and deliverability.

Why is List Cleaning Important?

List cleaning is vital for maintaining a healthy sender reputation. Sender reputation is based on a variety of factors, including spam reports, active opt-in, and the presence of spam traps in your audience. By maintaining a healthy sender reputation, you can maximize overall deliverability. This means more contacts will actually receive your emails in their inbox.

By regularly cleaning your email list with a service like Zerobounce, you can continuously remove invalid and inactive contacts, which reduces your bounce rates, and minimizes the risk of being flagged as spam.

Upload Your File to Zerobounce

To clean your email list with Zerobounce, you’ll first need to upload your audience file. The process is simple:

  1. Create an account or log in
  2. Click on “Validate New List”
  3. Drag and drop your file, or import from cloud storage
  4. Match the columns in your file to the labels in Zerobounce
  5. Mark whether or not the first row contains column headers
  6. Confirm if Zerobounce can remove duplicate emails
  7. Hit Validate!

Once you’ve uploaded your file, Zerobounce may take up to an hour or more to complete the validation process. Zerobounce list cleaning supports CSV, XLS, XLSX, and TXT files of any size.

How to Interpret Your Zerobounce Results

After the validation process is complete, Zerobounce will provide you with a detailed report on the quality of your email list. Emails will be divided into the following statuses:

  • Valid: These contacts have a bounce rate under 2% and are the safest to email.

  • Invalid: Invalid emails either do not exist, contain a syntax error, or have a full inbox. As a general rule, these contacts should be deleted.

  • Catch-All: These addresses are set up on a unique kind of domain that always returns a valid response – even if there’s no one on the other end. If you want to keep these addresses, try making a segment of catch-all contacts and observing their response to a campaign.

  • Spamtrap: These emails are fake addresses set up by ISPs & blacklist providers in order to catch spammers. Sending to a spam trap can have an immense impact on your sender reputation, so definitely delete any that Zerobounce finds! Check out Mailchimp’s article on spam traps to understand how these addresses work. 
  • Abuse: These contacts are typically real people that are known to report even innocent emails as spam. Avoid sending to these contacts, as even an inaccurate spam report can damage your deliverability.

  • Do Not Mail: These are most often role-based or company emails (like “sales@purefirefly.com”). While these addresses are valid, they’re typically poor contacts for most email marketing. Take a closer look at these addresses to determine whether or not you’d like to continue sending to them.

  • Unknown: As you might predict, Zerobounce can’t determine the validity of unknown contacts. Try re-importing them at no cost, or remove them from your audience. 80% of unknowns are invalid addresses.

Along with these statuses, Zerobounce also provides sub-statuses explaining why a contact may have landed in a particular status. They also provide additional predicted information about your contacts, including name, gender, and general location. 

What’s Next?

After you’ve cleaned your list using Zerobounce, you can choose how to make the most of the information provided! One great option is to archive any of the invalid, spam trap, and abuse contacts in your audience. You can even archive your full contact list and re-import the valid addresses.

You may also use your Zerobounce list cleaning results for segmentation. For example, you can use Zerobounce’s gender predictions to send targeted marketing based on gender. Or, you can create a tag for catch-all addresses and send a targeted campaign requesting that they re-confirm their subscription. 

However you choose to use your Zerobounce results, make sure you clear out those spam traps and send to your most valid addresses!

Get a Cleaner List with Pure Firefly

Ready to put your cleaner list into action? Pure Firefly, a trusted partner in email marketing, offers list cleaning services and comprehensive training to help you optimize your campaigns. Our team of email specialists have over 10 years of experience in marketing, design, and IT. 

Contact us today for a free quote on any email marketing service! We look forward to working with you soon.

*Note: This post may include affiliate links. If you sign up for Zerobounce list cleaning using links in this post, Pure Firefly will receive a small commission. We never promote services we do not use ourselves, and all opinions expressed are our own.

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