Bouncing isn’t fun (at least not the email kind). It can get frustrating when you send awesome campaigns and watch huge chunks of it bounce right off problematic addresses.
If your emails are bouncing too much, you’re causing and compounding problems for yourself.
Fortunately, there’s quite a lot you can do to fix that.
Your bounce rate is the percentage of emails you send that get “bounced” back at you, meaning the intended recipient was unable to receive the email for some reason. It gets returned back to the sender (that’s you) with a notification that it couldn’t be delivered.
Sounds like how real-world mail works, doesn’t it? It’s basically the same idea. Email bounce rate, by the way, shouldn’t be confused with website bounce rate (which is a whole other topic).
What Does a Bounce Mean?
There are two types of email bounce: soft and hard bounces. Soft bounces are temporary delivery failures, whereas a hard bounce is a permanent failure.
In other words, a soft bounce indicates a problem that might go away shortly, so your email might end up successfully delivered during retries. This can happen when, for example, the recipient’s inbox is full. Once they free up some space, they’ll be able to receive your campaigns as normal.
There might also be an issue with the receiving server, or a variety of other reasons your message temporarily couldn’t be delivered.
Hard bounces occur when there’s no way that you’re getting email into that recipient’s inbox, ever. This happens when, for example, you send a message to an email address that’s been misspelled, fallen out of use, or deleted outright. Regardless of the details, a hard bounce means a functionally useless contact.
Why Bounces are Bad
Soft bounces aren’t that bad, assuming the issue goes away shortly. Hard bounces, on the other hand, can do serious damage to your sender reputation and degrade your deliverability. You should remove hard-bounced addresses from your database entirely.
Put simply, if you continue to send to an invalid address anyway, the receiving ISPs (internet service providers) are going to rightly assume that you’re not too bothered about who you’re sending to – and that means your campaigns will get treated as spam, and your sender reputation takes a hit.
Lower sender reputation means more of your campaigns getting thrown into spam folders, and can end up with your domain blacklisted. If that happens, it’s basically game over for your email marketing on that domain.
Fixing Bounce Rate Issues
Bounces are a contact-based problem. That means that it’s down to the contacts in your database – so that’s where you should look first.
Where did you get your contacts? If we’re talking inbound, your opt-in strategy might need reviewing, as you might not be doing a great job filtering out bad contacts.
If you’re using email lead generation (ELG), your contact list very probably came from a vendor. If the vendor you used wasn’t a reputable provider who aggregates their data, that’s probably the source of your issue.
The reason for that is that some vendors gather data by scraping it from the internet. Meaning they deploy programs that search for openly-readable email addresses on websites and chuck them into a list. The problem here is that they (or you) have no way to gauge the quality or viability of any given contact.
You’ve got no way to tell whether your contacts are even remotely in the right space for your offering, which not only means you’re spamming them – it means you functionally can’t get decent results no matter how good your campaign is.
Instead, make sure you source your list from a reputable provider who aggregates data over time rather than gathering it randomly.
The next step is to verify your contacts. Even if you’re getting them from a top-notch provider, any list of emails decays over time. It’s natural and unavoidable, so the first thing you need to do is run your new list through a validation service.
If you’re using Clickback, that’s built in and happens automatically when you upload your list. Otherwise, it’s a paid third-party service.
Once you’ve eliminated your list as the root of your bounce woes, you need to monitor your bounces and remove hard-bounced addresses immediately as they appear.
That way, you’ll never accidentally send to them again, your deliverability is unaffected – and you aren’t wasting effort sending to contacts that you can’t succeed with.