Hard Bounce vs. Soft Bounce: Email Delivery Troublemakers

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Karolina Petraškienė
Content Marketing Manager
Reading Time: 4 minutes

Hard bounce, soft bounced emails, spam – these all are keywords for poorly performed email campaigns. These troublemakers can spoil not only your email campaign results but the sender’s reputation as well.

Keep reading and learn how to distinguish hard bounce vs. soft bounce, correct potential issues and prevent your emails from getting bounced.

What Is An Email Bounce?

An “email bounce” is when the recipient’s email server rejects your email message. It means that your message hasn’t been delivered, and the email server sends it back.

The bounce rate indicates how healthy or stale your mailing list is. It has a significant impact on your sender’s reputation and is one of the most important metrics that you have to monitor in email marketing.

Learn more about email deliverability and sender’s reputation here: Improve Email Deliverability: Common Issues and Best Practices

What Is A Soft Bounce?

A soft bounce is an email that hasn’t been delivered to your recipient because of temporary reasons. It might occur because the email is too large, the inbox is full or the email server is down. In this case, email service providers send the email repeatedly, e.g. Omnisend tries to reach the recipient 8 times in 12 hours.

An email soft bounce isn’t as dangerous as a hard bounce.

bounce-rate

What Is A Hard Bounce In Email Marketing?

A hard bounce is an email that is sent back due to permanent reasons. The reasons for this are varied. Most of the time, the recipient’s email address is invalid or no longer in use:

  • the domain (email ending after @) does not exist;
  • the server is not accepting emails;
  • the address is mistyped (name@example.cam instead of name@example.com, etc.)

The thing is, email hard bounces damage your deliverability rates and sender reputation – you can be treated as a fraudulent email sender. This status will spoil your email deliverability tremendously.

What Are The Main Reasons Of Hard Bounce?

There are several common reasons for a hard bounce email. Check them below, maybe one of the scenarios fits in your case.

  1. As a sender, you use free email services like Gmail, Yahoo or AOL. To reduce deceitful emails, many email service providers have changed their DMARC policies. According to this policy, your emails will not pass authentication and will be bounced. So you should use the email with your private business domain (e.g. name@yourbusinessdomain.com).
  2. Your list is out-of-date. If your mailing list was built several years ago and you decide to use it only now, don’t be surprised by a high bounce rate. Your subscribers have probably changed their emails, forgotten about you, or are no longer interested in your content. In this case, you should delete users who have been inactive for months. Beyond that, you should allow your subscribers to unsubscribe or update their personal info so that your contacts will always remain up-to-date.
  3. If your subscriber list is brand new but the bounce rate is high, the problem might lie in the way it was built. People tend to mistype their emails. So you can skim your contacts and check for simple mistypes like @gnail.com, @yahoo.kom, etc. Use email verification to ensure email grammar and validation.

Another way to control this is an email verification or double opt-in method after signing up. In this way, you will be sure that the address you are marketing to is functional. Double opt-in lists have a much higher engagement level. By using this method, people are not able to sign up with fake email addresses – they have to be valid to opt-in.

If your email goes to SPAM, find the reasons here.

Is It Possible to Fix Email Bounces, and if so, How?

There isn’t any known way how to fix already bounced emails.
However, you can decently build and maintain your email list, and proactively prevent your emails from bouncing.

What is an Acceptable Bounce Rate?

The number of bounced emails is directly related to the quality of your contacts list. A low bounce rate (up to 1%) indicates a current, maintained list with real and active subscribers.

Meanwhile, a high bounce rate is anything higher than 3%. If your campaigns always generate high bounce rates, it is crucial to take action to reduce it. There are ways to improve the hygiene of your email lists, and you can find out more about that here.

Key Takeaways

An up-to-date email list is crucial for your email marketing strategy.
High hard bounce rates have a significant negative impact on both the sender’s reputation and email deliverability rate. Using email marketing, you should strive to keep your bounce rate low. The lower it is, the better.

Email service providers, including Omnisend, help you to monitor the list’s status throughout email campaigns. They measure deliverability, bounce rate, and unsubscribes to give you a basic understanding of the welfare of your contact list.

At the end of the day, use best email practices, focus on quality, not quantity, and you won’t have any trouble.

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Karolina Petraškienė

Karolina is a writer, content marketer, and email enthusiast at Omnisend. When she's not curating articles, you can find her in the woods challenging herself in hiking boots or off-roading her bike.


Further Reading:

11 Reasons Why Your Email Goes to Spam
Email Deliverability Guide 2020: Common Issues and Best Practices
sender reputation warming cover
How to Use Sender Reputation Warming for Better Email Deliverability

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2 Comments

    1. Hi Debora,
      You can segment out emails who have become unsubscribed because of bounces.
      – Karolina

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