What is a Bounced Email?

this is a bounced email
March 31, 2020


What is a bounced email and how do I lower it? Learn why bounce rates are important and the steps you can easily take to reduce them.

What is a bounced email?

A bounced email is virtually what the name implies—an email message that was unsuccessfully delivered and “bounced” back to the sender. This can happen for a variety of reasons, which we’ll cover in this blog.

What is a bounce rate?

First, let’s talk about email bounce rates, not to be confused with webpage bounce rates. Your email marketing platform probably has a metric called the “bounce rate,” which is the percentage of sent emails to bounced emails. For example, if you send 100 emails and 10 of them bounce, then you have a 10% bounce rate. This rate, on average, varies greatly by industry. But usually, the lower the bounce rate the better. Email marketers like us must be on top of our game when dealing with bounce rates, because a high deliverability (and lower bounce rate) means happier clients and fewer spam reports.

Types of email bounces

Unfortunately, there is more than one type of bounce—but it’s not too complicated, so stay with us!

The first type of bounce is called a soft bounce. A soft bounce is when the email makes it to the recipient server and is then rejected. It is only a temporary failure, as the email may soon find its way back to their inbox. This may happen if the recipient’s inbox is too full for more mail, or the mail is too large to be delivered.

The second, called a hard bounce, is a permanent rejection of the mail after it has made it to the recipient’s server. In other words, the mail can never be delivered to the specific inbox that had a hard bounce. This usually occurs if the recipient’s address is invalid or the recipient is inactive.

Four ways to lower email bounce rates

Generally speaking, any bounce rate under 1% is passable. If you’re 4% and beyond, it’s time to act before your deliverability drops through the floor and hurts your future sends.

1. Ensure all emails are typed correctly. Even one single missed letter or period in the inbox will cause an email to bounce forever. Manually skim over your email list to make sure the symbols and periods are in the correct place to optimize for deliverability. If you are unable to make a correction, simply delete the email from your list. This whole process can often be prevented in the first place by a 2-stage authentication when people sign up with their emails to begin with.

2. Regularly send and prune your lists. If you consistently send engaging or valuable content to your subscribers, your bounce rate will naturally be lower. For unresponsive subscribers who remove emails, we always “prune” our list by sending an unengaged email. This kills two birds with one stone: the bounce rate is lowered, and your email metrics will be more accurate. However, be wary of sending too many emails, as that will also hurt your deliverability.

3. Make sure your subscribers actually want to be on your list. People change. They may suddenly decide they don’t want to receive your emails anymore and mark them as spam, or they don’t know how to unsubscribe. Be sure to have a clear exit option for subscribers. This can also be accomplished by sending them an unengaged email.

4. Send the right emails to the right people. In line with #3, be sure each subscriber is receiving information that is relevant to them. If they only signed up for “sale alerts,” don’t make the mistake of sending them daily newsletter emails. This is why we use Klaviyo to hyper-segment our lists and maximize deliverability [we are not sponsored by Klaviyo].

At Grab Digital, we do our best to ensure our clients’ bounce rates are far below 1%. If you’re looking to improve your email rates, contact us. Our dedicated email marketing specialists and team of copywriters and designers implement best practices to minimize bounce rates and increase customer satisfaction.

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Written by

Jasper is an expert email marketer. He is passionate about helping sustainably driven businesses reach their marketing goes through beautiful, branded emails.