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Understanding Bounces 

You’ve spent all this time cultivating the perfect message, and you have avoided the top 20 email marketing mistakes. Now, you’re ready to send your beautiful message to all your contacts. So why, when you spent all this time, did so many of your emails bounce? What exactly is a bounce? What is the difference between a hard bounce and a soft bounce? These might be some of the many questions you have about bounces. We are going to cover all these questions and more in this blog. 

What Is A Bounce? 

In the simplest terms, a bounce is caused when email messages cannot be delivered to a recipient’s email address. There are many factors that can cause a bounce to occur, anything from content to bad domains or busy servers. If you are sending from your own email client, you’ll usually receive an auto-reply to your message that gives you some sort of reason for the delivery failure, such as “mailbox full” or “server busy”. If you are using an email marketing software like GreenRope, you’ll see your bounces in the tracking area of your broadcast along with a bounce code to help identify the reason. Those reasons fall into two categories, soft and hard bounces. 

We’ve included a helpful graphic at the end of this blog to help further understand the different bounce reasons and codes. 

Soft vs Hard

Isn’t a bounce a bounce? Far from it. Many bounces are actually temporary (soft) while fewer are permanent (hard) bounces. So, what's the difference? 

Soft Bounces

Soft bounces are the most common type of bounce; the temporary failures that cause these delivery issues are typically always overcome with repeat sending. If you are using GreenRope to send your emails our system automatically attempts to resend emails to bounced contacts multiple times before marking them “bounced” in your tracking results. 

A few examples of soft bounces: 

  • The recipient’s mailbox is full
  • The receiving server is busy
  • Content is flagged and deemed undeliverable  
  • Unknown reasons

Hard Bounces

Unlike soft bounces, hard bounces are permanent failures caused by an unquestionable reason that cannot be overcome with multiple sending attempts. When using an ESP like GreenRope, we will label these contacts “BOUNCED” in your CRM so that invalid contact is no longer included in your future broadcasts or billing. 

A few examples of hard bounces: 

  • Invalid email address or misspelled domain
  • Receiving server no longer exists 

With the different types of bounces come different ways soft and hard bounces are managed. In your GreenRope account, soft bounces continue to be considered valid contacts and included in your future broadcasts since the cause for the bounce is temporary and usually overcome in time.  

Bounce Rates and Sender Reputation

Email bounce rates are based on the number of contacts that did not receive your email due to it being undeliverable. There are a lot of factors to consider when determining a good bounce rate, primarily where your list came from. 

Is your list made up of confirmed opt-in contacts?
Have you communicated with them on a regular basis? 

If the answer to those questions is yes, that list will likely have a much lower bounce rate than say a single opt-in list. An unconfirmed (single opt-in) list is made up of email addresses that do not need to go through a confirmation process to be added to your mailing list, making it far less reputable. 

What about a purchased list? TRICK QUESTION, you should NEVER use a purchased list! Not only does it violate GreenRope’s terms and conditions but it is also a surefire way of getting blacklisted across many ISPs and destroying your sender reputation. 

A sender reputation is the rating your sending IP is assigned based on your sending behavior. A few things that measure, and alter, your reputation are: 

  • Your email content and formatting 
    • A poorly formatted email and bad content can land you with a higher spam or bounce rate, lowering your reputation.
  • Your sending volume
    • The more you send, the more likely you are to be labeled a “spammer”, lowering your reputation.
  • Hitting spam traps
    • Spam traps are the speed traps of email marketing, email addresses created not for the sake of communication but for the sake of catching spammers in the act. The best way to avoid a spam trap is by using a strict confirmed signup form.
  • Email bounce rates 
    • The higher the bounce rate, the lower the reputation. 
  • Blacklistings 
    • Companies get blacklisted at an IP level, the sending IP is believed to distribute spam causing emails sent from that domain to be delivered to spam folders or bounce back as undeliverable. GreenRope’s ISP Relations Team works hard to ensure all blacklists are resolved quickly by working one-on-one with our clients and directly with the ISPs to maintain healthy sending relationships. 

Are you noticing 100% bounce rates from a particular domain? Contact us right away to work with our ISP Relations Team to get any blacklistings you may be experiencing removed right away.    

How GreenRope helps manage bounces in your account 

We do NOT recommend deleting bounced contacts from your lists. Instead, keeping them in your list labeled “BOUNCED”, ensures your list is up to date and in its cleanest state. 

As soon as your broadcast is sent, if we receive a bounce-back response with a bounce reason that falls under code “A” (see “Common Bounce Reasons” graphic below), the email address is marked “BOUNCED” in your CRM and not included in any future campaigns. If the bounce code received is B, C, D, E, or U we continue to try to deliver the email and leave the address listed in your CRM as valid. To see your different bounces, go to Communicate > Track Email > Broadcasts > select the broadcast in question (or more than one to view tracking across multiple broadcasts) > click the “Bounces” button. 

How to reduce bounces 

Signup Forms & Opt-in Lists

Implementing an opt-in signup form, specifically a confirmed (double) opt-in form, ensures you have the cleanest list possible, filled only with contacts that have not only opted-in to receive your emails but confirmed their request to be added to your list(s). This makes spam complaints next to impossible when it comes to a contact claiming they did not request your emails. 

Using GreenRope’s signup forms allows you to start engagement with new contacts easily by adding their information directly into your CRM and starting any workflows, journeys, or drip campaigns you have associated with any of your forms. 

Whitelisting 

Are your contacts complaining that your emails aren’t being delivered to their inbox? Whitelisting an email can help aid in correcting this if the emails are bouncing, particularly due to content. Whitelisting an email simply means the receiving server has been notified that you are a trusted sender. The easiest way to do this is to add the “from” email address to the recipient’s approved sender list, typically done by simply adding the email address to their email client’s contact address book. This will also help if emails are being filtered into a spam/junk folder by mistake. 

In order to optimize the delivery of GreenRope emails to any network, you can also add the following IP range to your receiving server’s whitelist: 209.216.229.0/25.

Content 

Content-related bounces are probably the most common. High-risk spam words such as free, prize, win, can be automatically flagged as spam and bounced back, the same can be found if you are using an high-risk alias (info@, sales@, no-reply@) as the “From” email address. The right content that is personalized and aligned with your clients’ needs and behavior, will result in higher delivery and read rates. 

Maintaining a healthy list 

You are using a confirmed signup form and have all your opt-in records, that is fantastic! The next step after cultivating your happy, healthy email list is maintaining it. This is done by understanding engagement, adding SPF/DKIM/DMARC records, monitoring your sender reputation, respecting your contacts’ inboxes, and properly handling your bounced contacts. Click here to see how you can improve your list health. 

Bounce reasons 

There are a lot of reasons an email can bounce. The below graphic can be used to help identify some of the most common bounce reasons.

 

Do you have additional questions about bounces in your GreenRope account? Contact us any time to discuss your bounces, your sending reputation, or any other concerns you may have. 

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Melissa Filich Blog Bio

 

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