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Hard Bounce vs. Soft Bounce: How to Ensure Email Deliverability

Emails fail to be delivered for a variety of reasons. The two terms usually used in marketing for undelivered emails are soft bounce and hard bounce. We explain what these terms actually mean and how you can improve the deliverability of your newsletters.

Bounces are an important factor that can decide about the success of your email marketing. In general, emails that could not be delivered are referred to as bounces. Once you have grown your contacts list, there will always be a few bounces. This is normal and bounce rates of less than one percent of your sent emails should not be a cause for concern.

The basic distinction is between hard and soft bounces. Soft bounces occur when

  • the mailbox of the recipient is full,
  • the email is too big for the mailbox,
  • the server is temporarily unavailable,
  • the e-mail got stuck in the spam filter.

Soft bounces usually make up the smaller portion of the bounces and are considered temporary. This means emails might be delivered to soft bounces in the future. A hard bounce, on the other hand, is final. This can have several reasons:

  • the email address is invalid (e.g., due to a typing error),
  • the email address does not exist,
  • the mail recipient's server blocks the sender's server.

High bounce rates can be a problem for the delivery of your emails. Therefore, deliverability should always be kept in mind when evaluating your activities. The reasons for individual bounces are also to be considered in detail. If there is an unusually high number of soft bounces, looking at the recipient domain might clarify things. If most soft bounces use the same mail provider, it could be an indication that the server is overloaded. In this case the problem will solve itself over time.

Marketers today use marketing platforms to send their newsletters. These platforms provide real-time e-mail deliverability analyzes. Usually, they also act on these analyzes automatically. Most vendors will automatically exclude hard bounces from sending future mails. This has a practical reason, because high bounce rates have a negative effect on the reputation of the sender domain. The consequence of this is that the delivery of your marketing mails continues to deteriorate.

Reducing the number of bounces

A powerful software solution supports your email marketing by automatically excluding hard bounces from sending further emails. There are also a few thing you can do yourself:

1. List hygiene: Ensure correct data entry when manually adding new recipients. Often subscribers enter their e-mail address themselves, for example, if they subscribe via an online form. Avoid typos by asking users to enter their address twice.

2. Use a double-opt-in procedure: Send subscribers an email in which they must confirm the subscription. This is the only way to get addresses from real prospects. This interaction with your sender domain also reduces the risk of ending up in users' the spam folder.

3. Good content: From the subject line to the content of your mail, you have to deliver convincing content. In the context of deliverability, the choice of words is particularly crucial because certain words draw the attention of spam filters.

4. Continuously monitor the delivery rates and, if necessary, make adjustments.

Learn more about email deliverability here. 

Tags: E-Mail Marketing

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