Should You Be Concerned About Email Bounce Backs?

Despite some having already dismissed emails as a thing of the past, emails play a large role in today’s businesses – according to a study conducted by Forbes, email marketing campaigns are still the best way to generate leads. As such, your business should also be conducting Email Marketing Campaigns. Like every other avenue in life, however, even the mostly automated email marketing process is not without its frustrations and the biggest obstacle you will come across is the email bounce back.

Also, just like every other avenue in life, overcoming obstacles is easier the more you know about the obstacles you are facing. This post will serve as your guide to give you all the basics you need to know about email bounce backs.

Let’s start with the main question:

What is ‘Email Bounce Back’?

For whatever the reason, if an email you sent out cannot be successfully delivered to it’s intended recipient and it bounces back to you with an error message, it is known as an email bounce back.

Have you seen an email like the one below, or something similar?

What is ‘Email Bounce Back’?

If your answer is yes, you’ve encountered one of the many possible variations on the email bounce. A message like the one above is the way that the your email server notifies you that the email that you sent out has either not been accepted, the receiver’s server cannot accept the email or some other underlying issue has resulted in non delivery of your email.

The most common bounce back message you recieve will bluntly state “Delivery to the following recipient failed permanently”. This happens in instances when:

  1. The email account you are trying to reach does not exist
  2. The email address types in could be misspelled or contain a typo
  3. Unnecessary spaces in the email address

These bounce back messages will also include several possible suggestions you could attempt to fix the issue.

Most commonly, you hear of these issues occurring in Gmail and Outlook, but that is because they are the two most popular email clients and not because email bounce backs are an issue exclusive to these two clients. If you are running an email marketing campaign, whatever email marketing client you use, whether you’ve cleaned your list or not, chances are, you will come across the email bounce back issue in one form or the other.

Hard Bounces vs Soft Bounces

Email Bounce backs can be divided into two broad types, within which multiple specific issues will fall. The two main types are hard bounces, which should cause you some worry and soft bounces, which are relatively benign.

Hard Bounces

When your email bounce backs fall into this particular category, it means your email has been rejected outright. There are multiple reasons for this happening, including but not limited to your recipient’s email address not existing any longer or never having existed in the first place, the email’s domain name being unavailable and when you’ve made a spelling error and entered the wrong email address.

Hard bounces are, unfortunately, permanent problems that you can’t directly fix – except a spelling error, perhaps. If your intended recipient’s address doesn’t exist or their server is shut down… you can’t exactly reach across the vast plains of the internet and fix their issues.

Soft Bounces

On the other hand, soft bounces are easier to deal with, mostly because many of the possible reasons for soft bounces are temporary. You will encounter soft bounces when your intended recipient’s email server is currently not responding or there is a quota on their inbox size that is currently exceeded.

When you encounter a soft bounce, you will receive an email from the recipient’s server that says that the message wasn’t delivered and often includes the exact reason why it wasn’t.

You don’t have much cause for immediate worry when you have soft bounces as they will most likely be fixed after a short period without any effort on your part. You simply have to wait a reasonable amount of time and try resending your email.

Now, to answer the titular question:

Should You Be Concerned About Email Bounce Backs?

Yes, most definitely.

Despite email bounce backs seeming like a relatively simple issue that you don’t need to worry too much about, there are a number of reasons why you should be concerned about your emails bouncing back.

Let’s start off with the simplest fact: a high number of you campaign’s emails bouncing back means that your campaign material is actually received by a smaller number of people, which will in turn affect your open rates, engagement and other factors that are the foundation of your email marketing campaign’s success.

In addition, a high number of consistent bounce backs will actually hurt your email marketing campaign in an indirect, but very hard-hitting manner. Bounce backs will affect both your IP reputation and your deliverability, both scores which, through a complicated algorithm, measure how much of your email marketing campaign is actually received by your intended recipients without bounce backs, how many of them land directly in the Spam folder as opposed to the main inbox and so on.

In addition, internet service providers assign all companies that conduct email marketing campaigns with a sender reputation score. Your sender reputation score works much like your credit score does: the more unwanted emails your campaign sends out, the more emails that end up being bounced back to you… the more your sender reputation score will take go down. And while it takes very little effort for your sender reputation to go plummeting down, building it back up is an uphill climb that will sometimes be near impossible.

Exceeding a certain benchmark set by Internet regulators to fight spam and unnecessary emails by having a large number of bounce backs can also lead to your email marketing account suspended by your Email Service Provider.

So, once again, yes. Email bounce backs are certainly something you should be concerned about. Email bounce backs can be a major factor in your campaign’s failure, so you should try to keep it as low as possible. MailChimp says that around 20% is a general average, but the actual rate could be either higher or lower depending on your specific industry.

Make sure you keep a keen eye on your campaign’s metrics and make changes where necessary, by cleaning your email list, verifying addresses and avoiding critical errors so that you campaign will be executed flawlessly.


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