What is Hard Bounce in Email Marketing?

Melanie Balke
March 14, 2023

Nothing is more annoying than when emails do not reach their intended recipient's mailbox during email marketing campaigns. These situations consume time, effort, and of course, money. But why do emails return to the sender?

This is commonly known as bouncing, which we will tackle today in this blog. If you're unfamiliar with this "bounce" term in an email campaign and you're constantly being thrown into this situation, continue reading to learn about it!

The Hard Bounce in Email Marketing

"The Basics: What Is a Hard Bounce?"

A hard bounce occurs when an email fails to reach the intended recipient. Multiple reasons like an incorrect email address, domain name, or an unidentified recipient usually cause this.

Additionally, the recipient's email servers may automatically block emails, blocking the email delivery of any email message with an identical subject line.

Hard bounces, in any case, affect email delivery rates which hinder the effectiveness of your email efforts. Spam filters may detect and mark your email address as questionable if multiple email addresses on your mailing list frequently generate a hard bounce.

Hard Bounce vs. Soft Bounce

"Digging Deeper: Soft and Hard Bounces."

Email bounce can be classified into two; hard bounce and soft bounce. A soft bounce is a temporary problem in email delivery that can be removed immediately. In contrast, a hard bounce is a continuous email deliverability error that can happen for many permanent reasons.

Any bounce type, whether soft or hard, greatly affects email campaign response rates. They also play a huge part in your ability to send emails and conduct email marketing campaigns.

Generally, your email campaigns will suffer less from soft bounces since it only shows a temporary failure, which means you can send soft-bounce emails again after the initial send. However, if you keep getting soft-bounce emails, this could greatly affect your email marketing.

A high email bounce rate indicates that fewer people have seen your email messages than there should be. There will be fewer opportunities for sales if there's less customer engagement.

What are the Causes of Hard and Soft Bounces?

Emails that temporarily reach the intended recipient's email server but then bounce back to the sender are known as soft bounces. There are several causes for this. The most typical ones are the following:

  • A full inbox
  • Large email content
  • Offline email servers
  • Poor sender reputation

On the other hand, hard bounces are returned emails to the sender because of a recurring problem, such as the following:

  • Wrong recipient's address
  • The receiving server automatically blocks emails.

How Email Bounces Affect Your Marketing

Hard-bounce and soft-bounce emails greatly affect your email marketing. You won't notice it at first, but this could also damage your business in the long run. The following are the effects of bounced emails in your business:

1. Email Service Providers Will Place You in Block List

Several email service providers, like Google, fixed security policies for reducing email bounce rates to prevent spam. They will suspend your email address to stop future emails with high bounce rates from being sent.

High email bounce rates may indicate unreliable email-sending practices to an email service provider. This is because not everyone is aware of and uses email best practices.

Unfortunately, your company's email domain can be compromised with this, as well as the slow termination of your email address. Because of this, you have difficulty reaching out to your target clients by sending emails.

2. Damages Sender Reputation

There are many factors that can reduce the sender's reputation score. Your reputation will suffer if customers consistently report your messages as spam. The same outcome would occur if bounce rates were too high.

This might occur if you use a previous email list without reviewing it to save money. However, data deterioration may also be a factor in it. Email addresses inevitably become invalid for various reasons, and sending many emails to invalid emails raises the bounce rate.

If your subscribers sign up using their work email addresses, their email addresses will no longer be valid when they change work. Any emails sent to that address will bounce, damaging your sender's reputation. Your emails will go directly to the spam or junk bins if you have a low reputation rather than the inbox.

3. Impacting Your SEO Efforts

Although SEO and email marketing are not closely related, reputation impacts SEO. Spam reports rise when emails are sent to inactive subscribers. But how will you know if the subscriber is inactive?

What you're sending greatly impacts why they aren't interested. If subscribers don't think it's relevant content, they can move your email to the spam folder, unsubscribe from your list, or ignore you further, eventually resulting in hard bounces.

Spam reports and practices will impact your sender's reputation score. It also lowers your domain authority, ultimately degrading your SEO performance.

Google screens every email in the mail server for spam indicators, and Gmail users can report spam. Additionally, Google will study the message to determine which businesses are involved. Your business-specific information might be discovered by looking at who sent the email and its links.

Afterward, Google will use the collected data to assign each provider a rating. Your online business presence can then include this rating, which Google may use to either support or degrade your search engine ranks.

How to Reduce Email Bounce Rate in Your Email Campaigns

As a part of marketing emails, you must keep track of the email reports of your email bounces and take appropriate action, so let's see what you can do:

1. Implement Double Opt-in Features

Double opt-in enables users to confirm their contact information. You can transmit a confirmation email to users who sign up for your mailing list so you can ensure they provide the right email address. Also, double opt-in confirms that the user is sincere in their interest in what your brand offers.

Aside from that, you can use double opt-in to verify email addresses. Ensure the website domain has not been added, and check if an address is invalid before sending emails, especially to many recipients.

2. Observe Your Email Campaigns

It would be best to double-check when sending emails to ensure that no email addresses are invalid.

Luckily, most email marketing platforms will display performance indicators for your campaign. Your email bounce rate and the addresses from which your emails were returned will be visible, enabling you to monitor your email deliverability rates.

You can obtain an email marketing platform from an email marketer or agency. With their help, you can track your soft and hard bounces. Additionally, they can help you remove inactive subscribers to lower your email bounce rate.

3. Use Personalized Emails

Typically, personalized emails don't end up in spam folders. With this, you can run more successful email marketing.

Customers also like receiving this kind of email since it reveals a brand's human side and gives them the impression that your company values them. As a result, there is greater customer and brand trust.

4. Keep Your Mail Server List Healthy

To keep your email list healthy, you should acquire more precise email marketing stats and data insights to improve your campaigns and remove inactive subscribers as needed.

But first, try to send a re-engagement email. Re-engaging those inactive subscribers who aren't reading your emails anymore is the purpose of a re-engagement campaign. The re-engage email should explain the communication's purpose for the subscriber.

5. Keep Lists Up to Date

People constantly change their email addresses, often without updating their regular senders. So always keep an updated list regularly. By doing this, you can ensure that your email enters the intended recipient's inbox. Also, you'll be comforted that your email deliverability score will be high.

6. Maintain a Strong Data List Hygiene

All email marketing efforts must practice proper list hygiene. This guarantees you high-quality leads and lowers the likelihood of bounce messages, whether a soft bounce or hard bounce because you can get rid of bad emails. Also, you can see how well your email list performed in earlier campaigns.

How to Minimize High Bounce Rate

To reduce your email bounces, you should start by looking at how you're getting your addresses. It is because soft bounces and hard bounces are sometimes the results of addresses entered into the system.

For instance, many businesses gather consumer email addresses at the time of sale and rely on staff to enter them accurately. In situations like this, basic employee education on the value of correct data and how that data is used across the company can go a long way. Of course, having enough knowledge could guide your staff about what they will do.

To go even further, you can ask your email marketers to use validation to correct data input errors in the email server and email verification. This way, you'll reduce email bounced and help to stop false information from entering your databases.

On the other hand, if you collect addresses through website forms, unlike sale acquisitions, this method requires the new contact to enter their information appropriately. In this situation, your best option for obtaining accurate, valid emails is to ask them to verify their email address or use automated verification procedures for higher email delivery rates.

Maintain High Email Credibility With The Email Marketers

Truly, email bounces greatly affect marketing, whether it is soft bounces or hard bounces. That's why knowing where you get the email address, ensuring that it is active, and creating relevant content is important to prevent bounce message.

Remember that emails bounce and harm your reputation when email providers notice that several of your emails bounce. In that case, they will believe your subscriber list is poor quality and will lower your reputation.

One way to prevent that is by hiring an email marketer. They are experts in managing emails, and they have an email marketing platform that could make your life easier but also limits your bounce message.