Email Bounce Management: Boost Deliverability and Win More Business with These Tips

Email bounce rate is a crucial metric in email marketing which measures the percentage of emails that couldn't be delivered to the intended recipients from the total number of emails sent. Email bounce can temporary or permanent.

Email Bounce Management: Boost Deliverability and Win More Business with These Tips
Photo by Mariia Shalabaieva / Unsplash

In email marketing, metrics are the buzzwords; everyone aims to run an efficient campaign that produces results.

Wouldn’t it be nice if all emails were sent to our subscribers, opened, and converted to inquiries and sales? Of course, it’s the ideal scenario in the real world and something almost impossible to happen. There are instances when emails don’t arrive at the recipients’ addresses.

There are many reasons for this—addresses no longer have been misspelled, or the server has issues. Or worse, the sender has a poor IP reputation and credibility, and the content is flagged as spam and blocked by the recipients!

In email marketing, we call this an email bounce rate, and the higher the rate is, the more damaging it becomes to your email marketing strategy. In today’s blog post, we’ll guide you through the complexities of email bounce rates, explain why it happens, and provide some tips and strategies for keeping it in check.

What is an email bounce?

So, what is an email bounce, an email bounce rate, and why should you be concerned? In marketing, an email bounce happens when the email service provider (ESP) tries to deliver an email to the subscribers’ email servers but is returned without acceptance. An email bounce often comes with an automated message indicating a delivery error. As mentioned, there are plenty of reasons email bounces; we’ll discuss this topic in detail below.  An email bounce is a delivery failure, which can be temporary or permanent.

On the other hand, an email bounce rate is a crucial metric in marketing that refers to the percentage of emails that couldn’t be delivered from the total number of emails sent.

Let’s take a small business owner who plans to send 100 emails to his online flower shop's subscribers and potential customers. One or two emails bounced from the list, meaning two subscribers and potential customers failed to receive your announcement on a special in-store discount. Some will say, “What’s the big deal with two emails not going into the subscribers’ inboxes? " Yes, that’s mostly true. Having two bounced emails will not have much impact on your marketing.

However, things can become more complicated if your business expands over time and your subscribers’ list grows to 10,000 potential customers. If you have the same email bounce rate, that translates to 200 unsent emails, or you’re about to miss or lose at least 200 potential customers!

As you can see, an email bounce can be a natural aspect of email marketing, but if the email bounce rate increases, that becomes a serious problem. A higher bounce rate can lead to business emails being marked as spam, translating to a low delivery rate and poor visibility for future marketing initiatives. As a small business owner, keeping track of bounced emails, their reasons, and steps you can take to improve your metrics is crucial.

Two types of email bounces

Generally, two types of bounces can happen:

  • Soft bounce. It’s a temporary delivery issue. Often, a soft bounce happens if there’s an issue with your subscriber’s mailbox or email server. For example, the recipient may have a server overload or error, a full inbox, or they’re using spam filters. A soft email bounce is temporary, and the servers will try to re-send the emails later.
  • Hard bounce. With a hard bounce, the delivery failure is permanent. It’s the type of email bounce that you want to avoid since it impacts your sending reputation and email deliverability. Some of the reasons for a hard email bounce include invalid email addresses, blacklisted IPS, or improperly configured email authentication protocols. Unlike the soft email bounce, email servers will no longer resend your hard-bounced emails.

Email bounce rate benchmarked: What should you target?

As mentioned, email bounces can happen, and it’s a reality even if you’re not into marketing. Sometimes, our friends and colleagues may change their email addresses without informing us. And there are instances, too, that bounces happen when inboxes are full or there are temporary issues with the servers. In short, most email marketers allow some wiggle room for email bounce. However, if the bounce rate is higher than usual, that becomes a problem. As a business owner and email marketer, you must stay within the recommended email bounce rate benchmark.

A few cross-industry researches show that anything below 2% is a normal bounce rate. For example, if you have 100 email addresses on the list and two emails bounced, then it's still acceptable. A 2% to 5% bounce rate breaches the warning level, and anything above 5% is critical and requires immediate attention.

Here’s how to manage a high bounce rate

Hard Bounce Versus Soft Bounce - How it Affect Email Deliverability?

Considering these things, tracking your marketing’s bounce rate and taking steps to manage and lower the numbers is important. Let’s take a look at some of the tested ways on how you can improve your metrics and refocus the marketing efforts of your business:

  1. Build your email list responsibly

Email lists are at the heart of businesses’ email campaigns, and building your own list requires time and effort. There’s no shortcut to creating a reliable and high-performing list. While there’s always the temptation to buy a ready-made email and blast thousands of emails instantly, we don’t recommend this step. Ready-made lists are not recommended because these may contain spam traps. Spam traps are recycled emails that are no longer used by your potential recipients. If you send emails to these addresses, you’ll be labeled a scammer, and bounce rates will increase.

Instead, you can create a permission-based email list and ask potential customers whether they want to receive your marketing emails. A double opt-in (or sending a confirmation email after the user agrees to receive the email) is always a better approach.

Receiving unannounced emails can be both creepy and irritating. Make sure you don’t add to the growing list of spammers by asking people first if they consent to receiving your emails.

  1. Validate and update your email list

Your email list requires regular checking and maintenance. You must remove the inactives or those unsubscribed from your list. You can find some marketing tools to automate updating the list. Also, it helps if you can regularly validate your email list by removing invalid email addresses. These addresses are no longer active or have typos in them. Again, you can work with commercial email bounce rate tools to help verify, update, and maintain your email list and keep the metric within manageable levels.

  1. Monitor the email bounce rate (and adjust strategy accordingly)

Email-sending analytics can help you manage your sending campaign and track the bounce rate. As mentioned, you’ll need to keep your bounce rate at 2%, and adjust your strategy if it increases to 3 or even 4%. The selected analytics can track the bounce rate and identify patterns or issues contributing to the problem. You can change your email-sending strategy based on the insights provided by these tools.

  1. Test your emails before sending

By testing your emails, you can eliminate sending issues beforehand and test your bounce rate. There are two ways to test emails: use dummy email accounts or use dedicated tools. Some email-sending providers give you access to tools to help you test your email sending.

Don’t forget to optimize your emails before clicking send. This step requires you to check and update your emails so they’re formatted correctly using appropriate fonts and styles. You aim not to come across as too spammy and that your email content is actually helpful and not overly promotional. We all hate spammers, so pay attention to how you write the subject line. One step to see what subject lines work is to run an A/B test and check the open and click-through rates of the same email with different subjects.

Final thoughts

Understanding email bounces, their rate, and their causes is critical in managing good email deliverability and optimizing your email marketing efforts. As a business owner and email marketer, one of your tasks is keeping track of the bounce rate and adjusting your sending practices accordingly. Some of these bounces are temporary, and others are permanent, so your strategies should always vary depending on the insights you gain from testing or using tools and apps.

Also, using the right tools to track the email bounce rate and maintaining a reliable email infrastructure goes a long way in improving your email sending and, by extension, your email marketing efforts. There are plenty of tools and services available for business owners that can help test and enhance the email sending capability. Maileroo, for example, offers a service that lets you test whether an email goes to the potential subscriber’s inbox or goes straight to junk. Having access to these tools and knowing how to adjust your email-sending strategy goes a long way in boosting your business!