How do you feel when you send an email campaign and receive a message that some of your subscribers didn’t or couldn’t receive it? Disappointed and frustrated, right?
A message that returns to your inbox because it couldn’t be delivered to a prospect’s email is called a bounce back. In this post, we’ll explore what bounce emails are, what they’re caused by, and how to prevent them in your email marketing campaigns.
First, we’ll answer the easiest question: what exactly is a bounced-back email?
When you try to send an email and it can’t be delivered, you’ll receive a bounce-back email message in response. Sent emails pass through a series of mail transfer agents that ensure the proper delivery of your email messages. When the software agent discovers a message that cannot be delivered, it will bounce it back to you with an error message.
But why do bounced-back emails matter? Well, bounced emails can have some dire effects on your business, including:
■ Making your marketing strategy less effective.
■ Leading to unachieved sales targets.
■ Affecting the sender’s reputation (AKA your reputation!).
■ Fewer email service providers being willing to work with you.
■ Your emails ending up in the spam box and you being tagged as a spammer.
Being marked as spam is one of the worst things that can happen to your emails, so you should try to avoid this at all costs.
There is analytics related to bounced emails you can rely on to help you improve. A bounce rate is the rate or percentage of emails that are either rejected or failed to be delivered and bounced back. It is determined by dividing the total number of bounced emails by the total number of emails sent multiplied by 100.
A bounce rate of 2% or less is considered normal. Anything beyond 2% means it’s time for you to reevaluate your email campaign and strategy.
How Does it Impact Deliverability?
High bounce rates can result in unpleasant consequences, including:
1. Bad Reputation: Email service providers look for IP addresses that frequently send bounced-back emails. They then determine the sender’s reputation based on the bounce-back rate.
2. Blacklisting: Repeatedly monitored high bounce rates can cause the sender’s IP address to end up blacklisted and, as a result, affect future sends.
3. Account Suspension: Sender’s account can be suspended if the grievance rate is beyond the permitted limit for the campaign sent by the user.
4. Lost Money: Every message is chargeable. By sending messages to invalid email addresses, you’re actually upsurging the cost of your email campaigns without any investment returns.
Due to these four reasons, bounce emails shouldn’t be overlooked.
Types of Bounced Emails
It’s also important to understand the types of email bounces so you can focus on the right solutions. There are eight types of email bounces.
1. Hard Bounce
A hard bounce is a permanent delivery failure that happens because the recipient’s address is no longer in use or is invalid. Email addresses can also be invalid due to typo errors such as ‘gmal’ instead of ‘Gmail’.
2. Soft Bounce
A soft bounce is a temporary failure that takes place when the recipient’s email server is down or experiencing other technical difficulties. These difficulties can include a file size being too large or a mailbox being too full.
3. Transient Bounce
A transient bounce is a temporary delay in delivering the message. However, the server will usually fix it and send the email when it’s back up and functioning. These emails don’t require any action from the users. However, if the delivery failure persists, it could eventually be considered a hard bounce.
4. General Bounce
A general bounce is when a mail server fails to get the email message delivered, but the reason is unclear.
A blocked email is when the recipient’s server blocks the email from the sender’s mail server due to reasons. These reasons might include that the sender was labeled a spammer, the sender’s IP domain is blacklisted, or the message appears to have content that appears like spam or has an inappropriate link.
6. Auto Reply
An auto reply is an automated response that is sent to the sender, including automated “Out of Office” messages, for example.
7. Abuse/Fraud Feedback Report
An abuse/fraud feedback report is a bounce-back email message that is delivered to the sender by the ISP’s Feedback report. This happens when a receiver categorizes your email as offensive, abusive, or fraudulent and reports it as spam.
8. Challenge-Response Message
A challenge-response message is an automated authentication response where an authentication “challenge” is shared from the recipient to the sender. The response usually has a link to an authentication challenge or question that needs to be filled in manually by the sender. After this action, the email gets delivered to the recipient.
What Could Happen if you Don’t Take Immediate Action?
Failing to take immediate action on bounced emails can:
■ Hamper the goal of reaching out to your audiences and yielding ROI
■ Waste your time
■ Land your email addresses on the blacklist
■ Cause the suspension of your account
What’s the Solution?
Now that you have an idea about the types and email bounce reasons, it’s time to check out the solutions. The good news is that there are many solutions to deal with bounced emails.
1. Use a Good Sign-Up Form
You need to have a contact list to send emails. For that, you need to use a good sign-up form that lets people feed in their information and email address. Ensure you use a good captcha system to avoid fake sign-ups by bots.
2. Always Use Double Opt-In
A double opt-in method is a step ahead of a single opt-in method. People enter their email addresses and other information as requested and hit the submit button. After that, they receive a confirmation in their email with a link. It’s only when they click on the link that they are added to your mailing list. This ensures your list is filled with valid emails only.
3. Use a Clean Email List
Cleaning your email list regularly is important; it’s quite likely that you may have email addresses that become invalid over time. Make sure you re-engage the dormant subscribers and remove the subscribers who remain inactive despite sending the re-engagement emails.
4. Keep Information Updated
Your contact information must always be updated. One way to do this is by amending all spelling errors and avoiding the usage of generic email addresses like “email@example.com.” Look for ways that let your users update their information on their own or verify that their information is correct and updated. By doing this, you can prevent email bounces.
5. Avoid Emails That Look like Spam
Spam filters assess whether your email looks like spam or not. Ensure that your design templates remain updated and that it doesn’t have any elements that might look like spam. The use of tools like “mail-tester.com” can help you evaluate this by suggesting you change the wording, links, formats, or content to avoid spam.
6. Create a Good Relationship with Your ESP
Your email service provider needs to check your legitimacy, so what can you do to be authentic? Try sending emails in small lots. Ensure that these lots have email addresses that would not mark you as spam because, if they do, it will make your ESP suspicious of you. It’s only when your emails are received and not marked as spam that ESP filters will trust you.
7. Email Authentication
Email authentication can give a genuine and professional touch to your emails and increase your delivery rate. Less than half of brands use SPF, DKIM, or DMARC, the three major methods of email authentication:
■ SPF helps marketers tell email authenticators that the email they are sending is genuine and original.
■ Domain-Based Message Authentication Reporting and Conformance (DMARC) makes your email authentication more powerful.
■ DKIM emails add credibility and enhance email deliverability.
8. Set a Consistent Email Schedule
Consistently sending emails ensures that your users don’t forget that they opted in. Prepare a schedule to send emails based on the engagement patterns of your users, so that your audience (and their servers) learn to expect your messages.
Bounced emails directly affect your delivery rate, subscriber engagement, business reputation, conversion rates, and income. Whether you’re frustrated with bounced emails or your email bounce rate is too high, employing some of these solutions will guide your email marketers to handle and prevent email bounce issues like a pro.