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How to Reduce Soft & Hard Email Bounce Rates

Any email that is received by the recipient server but runs into an error before making it to the receiver’s inbox is known as email bounce. In a layman’s term, it would mean that it bounced back to the sender, rather than going to the inbox of the intended receiver.

There are two types of bounces: hard and soft. When the address is invalid, the email would never reach the recipient’s inbox, that is a permanent failure, this is a hard bounce. On the other hand, a soft bounce is the one that might briefly encounter an issue, but there is still a possibility that the email might get delivered sometimes later in the day. 

Let’s say you send 100,000 emails, and around 1000 of them bounce back that means, 1% is the bounce rate. The number of bounced emails should be divided by the number of sent emails to calculate this. Although there are several factors like the industry type, sending practices and volume, that will affect the bounce rates. Like for example, marketing emails will have higher bounce rates than transactional mail. Experts do suggest that a balanced approach towards this should be adopted, and anything above 2% bounce rate should be unnerving.

Hard bounces can be a result of either blocked delivery from the receiver’s email server. Or merely a nonexistent domain or an email address. Soft bounces can occur because of an overcrowded inbox, or the server might be down, or maybe the length of the email is considerably considerable.

Bounce rates can be drastically reduced by following the tips mentioned below:

  • Keep an updated list of emails. That will ensure you have the right kind of audience with you. You’ll have to put in the effort to keep a healthy list actively. 
  • Many in the industry lose sleep at the idea of double opt-ins for getting a genuine email marketing list. The mere thought of losing 20% of those registrations can be frightening. But, most are more likely to bounce anyway.
  • Keeping a list of clean, authentic subscribers is much more valuable than having 10 times as many who are just a click away from marking you as spam.
  • Consistently send non-spam emails to gain their trust.
  • Purchasing an email list means there will be lots of hard and soft bounces. Never do that! Ideally, you should have a list of people who have willingly opted to receive emails from your brand’s side. 
  • Get your domain verified; it tells the receiving server that you’re a legitimate sender. 
  • Never send anything to people who haven’t opted for your email willingly. It’s much better to create your list organically. Let the consumers subscribe to it voluntarily, from your website, by opt-in forms or POS interactions. 
  • Let the subscribers pick the types of email marketing content that is relevant for them. After handing them this control, the likelihood of them staying engaged will be sufficient.
  • Develop quality content and engage with email marketing platforms.
  • Identify numeric bounce codes to determine if it’s a hard bounce or a soft bounce.
  • Observe Bounce Rate; have a dedicated monitoring system to get the exact data on how many emails are bouncing. Once you have an accurate picture, it would be pretty easy to assess the situation. 
  • Find appropriate ways to reduce bounce rates of sales emails. Regularly interact with your subscribers, it will help you reduce high bounce rates because you have engaged them and now they keep you on top of all active email addresses.
  • Never use free email domains because they don’t pass the DMARC policy for Yahoo, Gmail, and AOL so a hard bounce can be expected in the future.
  • Get the authentication for your email done; it will help mailbox providers identify that the address where it came from is legitimately from you the sender. The security systems and spam filters that mailbox provider’s use, will determine if the necessary authentication protocols are implemented which will help your legitimate email get to the inbox.


High bounce rates hurt the deliverability of your email. Fortunately, in case of a bounce, you get an error message back, which allows you to discover the problem. All bounces aren’t the same; and it’s good to know different types, what causes each of them, and how to act accordingly. It’s not too difficult to fight against bounce rates, but you’ll have to keep updating your subscriber’s list to avoid data decay. To reach more and inboxes, it is crucial to accept the small percentages of bounces, that will anyway happen and do your part to keep it as low as possible.