What is a hard bounce in e-mail marketing and why you should care?

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In the digital marketing industry, if an e-mail is said to have ‘bounced’ there’s a problem with it being delivered. Bounces are categorised as ‘soft’ and ‘hard’ bounces. In this article, we’ll tell you exactly what each of these means and what the implications of a hard bounce are.

What is a ‘soft bounce’?

If you see that you have an exceptionally high soft bounce rate for a particular e-mail campaign, this means that the e-mail client which you use (for example MailChimp, Constant Contact or something similar) is not able to deliver a certain number of the e-mails.

This can be due to:

  • The recipient’s mailbox being full,
  • The e-mail message that you’re trying to send the recipient being too big for their e-mail servers to accept, and/or
  • The recipient’s e-mail server being down so that it can’t receive the message that you’re trying to send it.

Although a soft bounce is not something that you need to be too worried about, you need to keep an eye on this rate in addition to which e-mail addresses are soft bouncing. This is because if a particular e-mail address soft bounces seven times, the e-mail client will re-classify this as a hard bounce. This means that you need to correct the temporary inability to deliver mail before this problem becomes more serious.

What is a ‘hard bounce?

A hard bounce refers to a permanent inability to deliver mail to a specific address. Reasons for such a bounce include:

  • The recipient’s e-mail address no longer is no longer in existence. This most commonly happens when a person leaves the company.
  • If the domain name is no longer in existence the e-mail will be classified as a hard bounce. The most common cause of this is if a company closes down which means that the domain name becomes defunct or if the domain holder no longer wishes to keep the domain.

•    A hard bounce can also occur if the recipient e-mail server blocks the sending e-mail server entirely. This will happen if the e-mail is constantly flagged as spam

Why should you care about hard bounces?

If you display a hard bounce rate that is above industry norms, you need to be concerned about this and ensure that you rectify this problem. There are a several motives behind why this is:

Your e-mails are considered to be spam

One of the reasons why your e-mails could be being classified as hard bounces is that the recipient’s e-mail server considers these as spam. The result of this classification is that people will start to see your company as not being authoritative. Consequently, your brand name will be damaged and you’ll need to work very hard to make this right.

If you do have a problem with hard bounces, work closely with your content marketing team in order to design your e-mails:

  • Look at the language that is being used and see whether or not it could be flagged as being spam.
  • Scrutinise your design and the pictures you’re using. Are these associated with known spam e-mails? If so, take these out and put more appropriate pictures in your communication.

Your data capturing is poor

Another reason why your e-mails could be labelled as hard bounces is that the e-mails don’t exist. This is often as a result of the e-mails being inputted incorrectly into the system. So to avoid this happening make sure that the person inputting this information double checks their work to ensure that all information is entered correctly.

E-mail marketing remains one of the most effective ways of carrying out a digital marketing campaign. The reason for this is that this is one of the most qualified sources of leads out there because people have given you express permission to send them information.

However, you need to treat this permission with the utmost respect and ensure that you only send them information that is in line with why they signed up to your e-mail list in the first place. So to make sure that your e-mails are on point, make sure that your digital marketing and content marketing teams work closely together to turn out a product that you’re proud of.

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