You send a well crafted email to a bulk list of subscribers to market your product and within minutes an annoying message springs up in your inbox stating the email has not been delivered.
This message is called Bounced back emails or Bounce Notification.
In today’s digital era, email marketing campaigns are one of the most crucial parts of promoting your business. When you’re looking at improving your outreach with your customer base, it is extremely frustrating for a marketer to face something called bounced back emails.
An email bounceback is an automated communication sent from a service provider to inform the sender that his message cannot be successfully delivered to the intended recipient.
Every day several billion email bounces happen. This means almost billions of emails never reach their destination, literally pouring away the hard work in crafting these emails.
It is acceptable to a certain level for bounces to be a part of email marketing, but it doesn’t mean that you have to always deal with it.
A bounce-back message typically looks like this.
As you can see from the image above, the mail service provided has mentioned the exact cause of the bounce back.
These are several reasons that determine an email bounce back. Some of the reasons include:
Email bounce rate is the total number of emails that have bounced back divided by the total number of emails you have sent, expressed in percentage.
It can be calculated in the following steps:
Say, for example, if you have sent 3000 emails, and 300 of them have bounced back.
So you can say that your bounce rate is 10%.
The graph below shows the average marketing email bounce rates in the United States.
The average email bounce rate is highly dependent on the industry, and on an average, it is somewhere between 2% and 15%. Ideally, it should be kept below 10%.
Generally speaking, bounced back messages can be broadly classified into two:
Within this category, the email is rejected on the spot. This is usually caused due to the permanent non-delivery condition of the email.
This is due to a few reasons such as:
Soft bounces are a temporary issue, and the chances are high that it will be automatically fixed in time without much intervention from the part of the sender.
You might be able to send the message and get it successfully delivered without much hassle if you try after some time.
Some of the reasons include:
A soft bounce will be turned into a hard bounce if the email is not delivered successfully after repeated attempts.
Contrary to popular belief, most of the time email bounceback occurs due to some issues which can be fixed easily.
Let us sift through some of the issues:
This is one of the most common errors in a bounceback email.
If the bounce back is marked as “non-existent email address,” the chances are high that the email address could have a typo or the recipient is no longer using the mail id.
Make sure to proofread the mail ids, as even a change in a single character, could cause an address error.
There is also a chance that the user deliberately gave a false email id, which is most likely to happen if you are offering something online in exchange for the user’s email id.
If the bounceback is from official corporate ids, it simply means that the user has left the organisation and the IT team has blocked their mail id.
Sometimes, this issue could also happen from an outdated email id, and the user would have transitioned to the new one.
Mailboxes have limited storage capacity, and if the number of mails exceed beyond the standard capacity, the mail service provider will bounce all the incoming mails to the delivery server.
Another reason is that your email could be taking too much space in the recipient’s mailbox.
For example, if you are trying to send an attachment along with the mail, the recipient’s mail server is most likely to bounce back your email if the attachment size is beyond the prescribed limit of the mail server at the recipient’s side.
Bounce back is a common occurrence in servers where there are IP restrictions.
This is a common occurrence in government organisations, schools, or industries.
Source: TED ideas
Some recipient servers like organisational or corporate servers allow only specific IP addresses to deliver the emails due to several reasons including internal security issues.
If you are getting bounce backs while sending emails to corporate email ids, the simple reason is that their mail servers are blocking your email.
If this is the case, you will have to make sure that your IP address is whitelisted in the recipient mail servers.
This is a unique case which does not necessarily classify into soft or hard bounce categories.
Auto-response usually occurs when the recipient is out on vacation.
The moment your email hits his inbox, the email service provider will instantaneously send you back an auto-response. However, one good thing about this is that you can ensure that your email hits the recipient’s inbox.
You might be wondering about the actual reasons behind this issue.
Sometimes it is likely the email addresses that keep on auto-replying could be abandoned by the user. If the bounce back continues for a few months, it is advisable to consider removing it from the bulk mailing list.
If the recipient is no longer interested in receiving your email, he could block or spam your email. If he has blocked your email upon reception, an automatic bounce will be generated.
Issues at the receiving mail server could be the prime reason for undeliverable emails. This belongs to the soft bounce category.
Undelivered emails mean that an issue is faced by the recipient side email server.
These could include:
This type of issue could belong to either hard or soft bounce category depending on whether the mail deliverability later.
Try resending the mail a few more times. If you are sure that it did not hit the recipient's inbox after repeated attempts, it’s better to pull it out of your bulk email list.
In the above six steps, almost all reasons for bounceback are covered. However, it has been noted that bounce backs can even occur due to some unknown reasons.
If such is the case, it is better to monitor the IP address and make sure that the bounce backs are not recurring.
It would also be wise to remove the mail id from your bulk mailing list.
At a global level, more than half of the world's population is using emails.
Studies have shown that the total number of emails sent and received per day is expected to hit a peak of nearly 347 billion by 2020. This makes email marketing an excellent strategy to increase brand awareness.
Research on spam indicated that more than half (55%) of the global email traffic are spam messages. Tackling the complex problem of dealing with hard and soft bounces should be a crucial part of your email marketing strategy.
A rise in the number of bounces could impact your deliverability and affect your future prospects as well.
The following are some of the tips to ensure that your email hits the intended recipients and to minimise your bounceback rate.
If you are new to email marketing, you need to accept the hard truth that it is almost impossible to reduce the bounce rate to zero.
Bounces are meant to happen, but the silver lining in the story is that you can be prepared to reduce the number of bounces happening over every email you have sent.
By carefully reviewing the bounce reports and periodically dumping non-responsive email addresses, you can ensure that your hard work of carefully crafting the emails won’t go waste.