Why Your Emails Get Bounced And How To Avoid It?

Did you know that every single second about 2.4 million emails are being sent out? That’s a massive number! What’s more crazy, at least 48 thousand of these emails get bounced. High bounce rates impact the overall deliverability of your emails, so it’s important to understand why your emails bounce.

In this blog post, you’ll learn the most common factors that generate bounces and discover some of the most widely used practices that prevent bounces from happening.

What is an Email Bounce?

The answer is simple: a message that can’t be delivered to a recipient’s email inbox.

It’s important to understand that not all bounces are the same. There are several factors that generate bounces, and some of them can be caused by something you as a marketer or sales rep do, while others happen independently from your actions.

Bounces are categorized as either hard or soft, depending on how serious the issue is.

When does an email soft bounce occur?

A soft bounce occurs when a temporary issue, such as a full inbox, exists with the recipient’s email address. Usually, in the case of a soft bounce, a message is delayed but not stopped. The email server will attempt delivering the message for up to 72 hours and only when the retry period ends, and if your message didn’t get through, it would be considered undeliverable. That’s why the bounce rate for an individual email campaign may go up or down after a few days.

When does an email hard bounce occur?

A hard bounce occurs when the email is deemed permanently undeliverable. Typically the domain name no longer exists, or it no longer has registered mail servers, but the most common reason – the recipient’s email address is invalid.A hard bounce occurs when the email is deemed permanently undeliverable. Typically the domain name no longer exists, or it no longer has registered mail servers, but the most common reason – the recipient’s email address is invalid.

If you happen to have an email address that generates a hard bounce, you should immediately stop attempting to deliver emails to this email address. Too many bounced emails can hurt your reputation and affect future email delivery.

Here’s a break down of what types of bounces you can expect:

When Should I Get Worried About Email Bounce?

According to Campaign Monitor, the benchmark for bounces is less than 2%. So, if you have a higher bounce rate, especially if it’s over 5%, you should take immediate actions. This is because email service providers monitor IP addresses that continually send emails to invalid email addresses and adjust their sender reputation accordingly. If you frequently get high bounce rates, your IP address may land on blacklists.

Bounces are also especially harmful with transactional emails because if you can’t send a password reminder to a user, then that user will be locked out of their account. This would be bad for your reputation, and you’ll most probably end up losing money.

email bounces you can expect
Source: Postmark

The Most Common Factors that Generate Bounces

The most common factors that generate bounces are:

  1. Invalid email address.
  2. The sender’s IP address is blocked.
  3. The email was blocked by the server.
  4. The receiving server is temporarily unavailable.
  5. The receiving mailbox is full.
  6. The email has been blocked by the recipient.
  7. The recipient has activated an auto-reply.

Now, let’s take a closer look at each of them.

Why Your Emails Get Bounced And How To Avoid It

Invalid email address

Deliberately or not, but people sometimes enter non-existent email addresses. Especially in cases where email validation isn’t needed. This factor is one of the most common sources of bounces, but it can also happen that a person has left the organization and his or her email address simply no longer exist. 
Bounce type: Hard

Why Your Emails Get Bounced And How To Avoid It

The sender’s IP address is blocked

If your recipient’s mail server considers your IP as spammy or if your IP/domain is blacklisted, then you’ll get a bounce. This type of bounce can also happen if your message contains a suspicious attachment or if its content looks like spam.

To avoid your IP address from being blocked, make sure that you’re not using any spammy email marketing techniques. Moreover, if you’re using your business domain, make sure that your colleagues are doing the same. Spam filters check a sending IP against blacklisted IP ranges. Meaning, that if anyone in your IP range is spamming, your emails will be considered as spam as well. 
Bounce type: Hard

Why Your Emails Get Bounced And How To Avoid It

The email was blocked by the server

The receiving server can block your emails for many reasons. Your email can be over a certain size, it can use the wrong format, and so on. Some companies have very strict filtering rules in place, and the only way to resolve this issue is to get in touch with your recipient via other communication channels and to request them or their system administrators to unlock your mail server IP address.
Bounce type: Hard

Why Your Emails Get Bounced And How To Avoid It

The receiving server is temporarily unavailable

In some cases, emails bounce due to an overloaded or temporarily unavailable server. Usually, it means that a server has crashed or is under maintenance, so you just have to wait a bit and send the same email again. However, if the email bounces back after several attempts, it may mean that a server is gone.
Bounce type: Soft

Why Your Emails Get Bounced And How To Avoid It

The receiving mailbox is full

Most email service providers allow only limited storage, so when users reach their predetermined limit, all further emails bounce. In most cases, the system will try to redeliver these emails a few more times, and if a recipient clears some of the old messages and makes more space, withheld emails will be delivered.
Bounce type: Soft

Why Your Emails Get Bounced And How To Avoid It

The email has been blocked by the recipient

There is a possibility that the recipient has placed your email address into a blocked list. 
Bounce type: Hard

Why Your Emails Get Bounced And How To Avoid It

The recipient has activated an auto-reply

If a person you’re sending an email to is on vacation or set up an autoresponder for any other reason, you’ll get a bounce. However, it doesn’t mean that your email wasn’t successfully sent to the inbox. The recipient will get your email once the auto-reply is turned off. 

Our tip: monitor how often email addresses end up in this category. If months go by and you’re still getting auto-replies, remove a contact from your list.
Bounce type: Soft

Remember, whenever you receive a hard bounce, you should immediately stop attempting to deliver emails to those email addresses. Too many bounced emails can hurt your reputation and affect future email delivery.

How to Minimize Email Bounce Damage?

When a bounce occurs, the recipient’s email server sends a bounce report back to the sender. If you’re sending lots of emails, pay extra attention to these replies. You might need to make certain adjustments.

High bounce rates are usually an indicator of issues with your email list, and here are some of the things you can do to minimize the damage:

Why 0% Bounce Rates are Impossible?

It’s important to remember that people are hired and fired, companies are acquired, and new positions are created every day. That’s why it’s impossible to have a list of business contacts with zero bounces. At Oxyleads, we get this question a lot, and although we are constantly validating contact and company information, some discrepancies still may occur.

Socialmediatoday.com has counted that if your monthly industry hire/separation rate is 4.5%, and you don’t email a particular list for three months, then potentially 12.9% of your contacts may have left their company by the time your next email campaign goes out.

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So, to sum up, keep an eye on bounces and see if they keep recurring. Bounces make a negative impact on the deliverability of all your emails, so you need to actively work on reducing your bounce rate. Follow the widely used practices that we mentioned above to prevent bounces from happening and, for further reading, check this article: How to Avoid Emails Going to Spam: The Ultimate Guide. You’ll learn how to avoid spammy mailing and how to prevent your emails from going to the spam folder.

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