Email Bounce Rate Blues? Understand Bounce Rates & How To Drastically Reduce Them!

Author: Randi Sherman | June 21, 2017

Reading Time: 10 Minutes

Email Bounce Rate Blues

“Every bad situation is a blues song waiting to happen.” Amy Winehouse

Email marketing remains the most cost effective solution for lead generation and conversions. Every day over 215.3 billion emails are exchanged which means that marketers are getting more creative with their content and visuals to grab user’s attention online. With email marketing boasting a 3800% ROI, it’s a no brainer. In an ideal world you’ll create mind smacking, personalized content with a catchy subject line that will not only be opened but clicked through.

However, any great email campaign is only as good as the number of people who get to read it. You can craft the wittiest content with powerful visuals and fantastic giveaways but if it doesn’t reach the intended recipient and bounces back –you’ll be singing the blues. But did you know you could start humming another tune by taking control of your bounce rate issues?

What You Don’t Want to See in Your Inbox

You’ve all seen those “return to sender” messages from a recipient’s mail server when your perfect email campaign boomerangs back into your inbox. The diagnosis is revealed that it’s a hard or soft bounce. Which means it’s either a permanent issue or one that could possibly be solved and repaired. The correct name for a bounce message is actually a “Non-Delivery Report/Receipt” (NDR) and it’s always annoying to get them.

A Serena William’s Style Hard Bounce

A hard bounce is when there is no-one on the other side of the net that can return the serve. Your recipient is gone forever, chalk dust –a permanent failure. The person can never be reached again –they’ve moved their online home, address unknown. It could be that the domain is outdated, the address has fallen out of use, is invalid or isn’t real. If you are experiencing a high incidence of hard bounces, upwards of 4%, you’re going to have to do some serious repair work. (more about the perfect email verification solution later) You don’t want your email address to register as a spam sender and get blacklisted. You have to protect your sender reputation at all costs as an email marketer.

Hard bounce messages include:
  • Unknown User: It says that your recipient is non-existent. This could be due to a typo when the email was captured or the individual has left the company.
  • The recipient’s mailbox was full. These days’ inbox sizes have grown to over 1GB so if it is full, it’s a sign that it’s been abandoned. You will never experience engagement from these full mailboxes.
  • Your content registered as spam. The spam filters on the recipient’s server were triggered by words in either your subject line or body of your email. There are lists spam trigger words that should be avoided in your content so that you aren’t barred from entering the party.
  • Your email was blocked because of the recipient’s security policy. Your email has to jump through a few hoops before it’s accepted by the recipient’s server. If a policy NDR comes back, it means your message didn’t manage to get through DMARC, SPF or DKIM Authentication.
  • Your email might garner a “missing category” notification. This is usually due to an “unsubscribe” or the recipient has marked it as spam.

On the Softer Side

These NDR’s are usually a temporary delivery issue. Your messages could be too large or the recipients email server is offline. A soft bounce indicates that there is something you could do to rectify the delivery issue before you resend. In many cases an email will resend a message about 5 times before it is classified as a hard bounce.

Soft bounce issues include:
  • Your IP has a poor reputation. It could also mean that your IP has a lower reputation than the IP address you are sending to and you need to reach out to the recipient to whitelist you.
  • You could be grey listed. This could be a temporary rejection until the server receives more activity from you. A longer track record will help the intended server to verify your IP as valid.
  • The recipient’s mailbox could be under construction. The mailbox misconfiguration message could simply mean that due to the site maintenance the server isn’t accepting any mail.
  • DMARC authentication failed because you are sending from a generic mailbox provider. If you send email campaigns from a free mailbox like Gmail and Yahoo, they might not meet the recipient’s server security check.
  • The recipient’s server timed out. The email server was potentially overloading and protected itself by blocking incoming messages. The Time Out won’t last forever and the email can be sent again.
  • You sent too many emails in a short space of time. The recipients email server will not accept any more messages from you until a certain grace period has ensued because they ran out of bandwidth due to being “throttled” with messages.

Keeping Below the Industry Standard

The industry bounce rate standard sits at around 2%. This is normal because people change jobs, change their addresses or due to one of the issues mentioned above. If you are seeing your bounce rates upwards of 3% to 5%, you need to start interrogating your database to avoid damaging your sending reputation.

Asking Permission

Yes, there are many things you can do to keep your bounce rate at 2% and below. You must ensure that the email addresses you have collected were created with opt-in, permission based data. If you have bought email lists or mined addresses yourself without getting the permission of the receiver, you will quickly be marked as a spam sender. You are seeking to engage the recipient, not alienate or harass them. It all starts with getting their permission and complying with privacy policies.

Fake Addresses for Free Offers

People often give out fake or old email addresses to be able to take advantage of an incentive, competition prize or getting free Wi-Fi without having to deal with the newsletters in their inbox.  You will later experience high bounce rates from this campaign unless you are able to truly offer something beyond the incentive. If they are signing up for your newsletter, make the content inspiring and relevant to their lives so they will want to give you their actual email address. Be sure that they are aware they can unsubscribe at any time.

Authenticating Your Domain Name

If you use a Gmail, Hotmail or Yahoo free accounts when you send campaigns, you are also likely to experience a high bounce rate or you could go straight to their junk folder. Always send from a domain name that has been authenticated. If you don’t, the receiving server can’t work out if you are legit and will bounce you out of there.

Keeping Contact

A list could become outdated in a few months so it is important that you stay in consistent engagement with your subscribers/customers in order for your marketing campaigns to be successful. When you are in contact with your database you can deal with low bounce rates easily instead of having to navigate a high bounce rate due to limited interaction with them. So if you are sending out emails after a hiatus, do it in segments so you can monitor the performance of your list.

Make sure there is a preference center link in the emails you send out so that a recipient can change their contact details at any time.

The Answers to Your Bounce Rate Blues

Email Verification Process

But by far the most effective way to lower your bounce rate is to make use of an email verification service. Cleaning your email list to be able to deliver your campaigns effectively is essential for your overall marketing strategy. You want to make sure of the quality of your list before you send out your campaign and see a spike in your bounce rate. If you haven’t used your list for a while or you have been using a management system that has yielded exceptionally high bounce rates, you need to try an email verification service. They will be able to remove the non-functioning emails that are causing you to get the blues.

Protecting Your Reputation

Inbox providers are hyper vigilant about monitoring high bounce rates. If your bounce rate is going through the roof you might suddenly discover that your emails will be blocked completely. With a verified list you are ensuring that your sender reputation scores high. You can’t ignore high bounce rates and delivery issues because that could damage your reputation for good. You must avoid your site being blacklisted at all costs. It will be a long road to redeem your IP address. Keep your eye on your bounce activity and monitor if they are hard or soft bounces. If they begin to surge, get those email lists verified ASAP! Email verification is your ultimate weapon against being blacklisted.

Target Typo’s

You’ll also be able to immediately tell a customer if they have accidentally misspelled their email address. These days so many people are using their smartphones to type in their email contact and often end up making typo’s. If you have an email verification service integrated with your website forms, you can easily assist them to submit a valid address.

Verification at Point of Capture

The stats say that your email list is going to need a 24% culling every year. That means you could end up manually deleting one in four addresses. Email verification will automatically weed out the hard bounce culprits. It can also verify email addresses at the point of capture so the email address enters your database raring to go. This ensures that your database is always up to date with only valid addresses.

Drag and Drop Simplicity

This is not a laborious or complicated process. You are literally going to drag and drop your email list and let the service work its magic. It’s a huge time saver and dramatically lowers your risk of getting a bad sender reputation.

Your goal is to make sure that every email sent is going to land at the feet of a potential buyer. When you can connect with your target at the right time on the first try you are going to see an increase in sales. Email verification helps you to make the sale by actually getting your message to a recipient’s inbox.

Improved Segmentation and Targeting

If you want your campaign statistics to be accurate you have to get rid of the dead wood. You will never be able to convert from a bad email address. Email verification removes those email contacts that are causing all of the bounces and skewering your marketing statistics. If you don’t clean your database email lists, your campaign numbers are going to be wrong. You want your data to be able to provide actionable insights and the efficacy of your analytics increases with a cleaned email list. You will be able to engage in better segmentation and targeting of your active recipients. You will also experience an overall increase in your email campaign ROI.

Email verification is incredibly easy to use. You simply upload a file containing a list of your email addresses and the service will scan every one 17 different ways to prove its validity. You will be left with the ability to download your clean list or your failed list. This is an essential tool in your email marketing efforts. Why pull your hair out by trying to manually remove each “risky” hard bounce? The email verification solution just makes your life so much easier and will have you belting out the “Hallelujah” chorus in no time at all.

If you are looking for an email verification service that will drastically reduce your bounce rates, protect your sender reputation and increase your open rates, Sign Up for Email Checker –the only bulk and API email verification tool you’ll need. You’ll also be able to stop spam and invalid emails by integrating our API or WordPress plugin into your website’s forms!

After cleaning your list, you’ll be able to successfully deliver atleast 97% of your emails. Guaranteed!

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