Email marketing is no easy feat. First, you spend a long time building an email contact list. Then, you put your all into designing the perfect email. Eventually, you hit the ‘send’ button, only to find that your email didn’t land in every inbox.
It’s deflating to see your emails bounce. It means that a portion of your contacts might never get to see the emails that you created for them.
Unfortunately, email bounces are an inevitable part of an email marketer’s life. In this post, we’ll go over the different email bounce events, and give you some actionable tips on how you can prevent your emails from bouncing in the future.
What is email bounce rate and why should you care?
We’ve spoken before about why you should put a lot of time and attention into optimising your email deliverability rates, however, you can’t afford to ignore your email bounce rates.
Your email bounce rate is a metric that calculates the percentage of emails you sent that didn’t reach the inbox – they ‘bounced back’. This is because the recipient’s email server rejected your email, which can be caused by a variety of reasons.
Bounced emails can harm your sender reputation and have a negative effect on your delivery rates. The closer your bounce rate is to zero, the better it is. Typically, a healthy email bounce rate is lower than 2%.
A low email bounce rate is a good indication of a healthy, high-quality email list of active and engaged subscribers.
Here are some of the reasons why high bounce rates are bad news:
- They can hurt your sender reputation
- They can reduce your email delivery rates
- They can decrease your email marketing ROI
- They can cause your future emails to land in the spam folder
- Your IP could end up on a blacklist
Before we go into how can you keep your email bounce rates low, you need to know about the two different types of email bounces.
What are the different types of email bounces?
There are two types of email bounces.
- Soft bounce
- Hard bounce
Let’s take a closer look at each one.
What’s a soft bounce?
Soft bounces are temporary delivery failures. The email is recognised and accepted by the recipient’s server but it gets returned to sender.
Ideally, a soft bounce will turn into a successful delivery after a few attempts at sending the email campaign. If you receive a soft bounce on your email, your email service provider will usually try to resend the campaign several times before giving up. If you’re a Wired Plus user, delivery will be reattempted over a period of 24 hours after the first attempt.
Your email could be categorised as a soft bounce for a number of reasons, such as the recipient’s mailbox is full, the email server is down, or the email message is too large.
What’s a hard bounce?
Hard bounces are more serious because they are a permanent delivery failure. They occur when the email address fails and thus your email can’t be delivered to them.
They are permanent because they are caused by unchangeable reasons, such as invalid or expired email addresses, misspelt domain names, or the email server no longer exists. Nothing you do will reverse this bounce, so you should get rid of those email addresses as soon as you spot them.
Most ESPs will stop attempting to send your email after the first try. If you’re a Wired Plus user, a hard bounce will result in the email address being ‘dropped‘, meaning they will be automatically suppressed and you won’t be able to send another email to it. This will ensure your delivery rates won’t be badly affected by repeatedly getting hard bounces on your emails.
How to reduce your email bounce rates
If your email bounce rates are higher than you'd like them to be, check out these simple ways of reducing them.
Use a double opt-in
One of the best ways to check that an email address is valid before it gets added to your list is to ask your new subscribers to confirm their subscription – a double opt-in.
Rather than allowing new leads to be added to your list immediately after submitting your signup form, they’d receive an email which asks them to click a link to verify their email address. This is usually done through an automated email that is triggered after an email address is provided.
Take a look at this double opt-in email example from Tatti Lashes.
Using a double opt-in for your emails is a good way of making sure your email list is as organic as possible.
Yes, if you add an extra step to your subscription process then it might mean your list doesn’t grow as quickly, but you’ll end up with a list full of high-quality email addresses that are more likely to engage with your email campaigns.
This means you’ll receive higher open rates and click-through rates for your emails, while reducing your email bounce rates and unsubscribe rates, too.
Regularly clean your list
A lot of bounces might occur because your email list is out-of-date. As time goes on, it’s likely that some email addresses have become inactive or they no longer read your emails.
That’s where data cleansing comes in.
Data cleansing is the process of removing any duplicate, incorrect, or inactive data from your list. Afterwards, you’ll have less data, but it will be higher quality, so your email bounce rates should come down.
You should always have a clear ‘Unsubscribe’ option in your emails. It’s also good practice to include a link to a preference centre so subscribers can update their own preferences and information.
Be consistent with your email schedule
Having a consistent sending frequency is an effective way of reducing your email bounce rates.
So, how often should you be sending emails? Unfortunately, there’s no definitive answer. The best sending schedule will vary from business to business. You’ll need to test and optimise so you can find a schedule that works for you.
If you send emails too rarely, however (let’s say a few times a year), you run the risk of letting your subscribers forget who you are and thus marking your emails as spam. We recommend engaging your subscribers from the get-go with a standout welcome email, and then start sending them relevant emails on a regular basis.
If you’re struggling for time, a great tool to help you stay relevant with a regular sending frequency is marketing automation. It lets you design your campaigns and then put them on autopilot, so the recipient receives the email at the perfect moment.
Stay out of spam folders
Even if you have a clean email list, your emails can still bounce if your emails keep getting caught in spam filters.
Spam filters consider a long list of factors when judging if an email is spam or not. If they think your email looks spammy for whatever reason, it will go straight to the junk folder.
There’s no magic solution for avoiding spam filters completely, but there are some steps you can take to try and get your email in the inbox. These include using a familiar ‘from’ name, sending relevant content to different segments of your email list, avoiding spam trigger words, and using a strong subject line that isn’t misleading.
For more information on improving for your deliverability rates, check out our email deliverability guide.
Use a custom domain
A custom domain for your email address might seem like a small detail in the bigger marketing picture, but it’s actually really important.
When you have an email address that isn’t associated with your business, it can look unprofessional and people are less likely to engage with your emails. An email address like email@example.com, on the other hand, makes an important statement about your business. It gives you instant credibility and shows your customers that you’re professional.
Using a custom domain that your subscribers will recognise will help ensure your emails don’t get caught in spam filters. Not only will this reduce your email bounce rates, but your overall email deliverability will be improved.
A small number of bounces are always to be expected, but taking these steps to avoid a high bounce rate is the key to deliverability success.
By monitoring your email reports, segmenting your audience, and regularly cleaning your database, you can protect your sender reputation and increase your chances of reaching the inbox.
Are you ready to start building emails that get better results? Book a free demo of the Wired Plus platform and see how we can help analyse and improve your email marketing rates.