Bounced Email

Everyone has experienced bounced email. It does not matter whether the email was for business or personal, at some point, everyone gets an email message back stating that the initial email was undeliverable. The key with bounced email in business is figuring out why the email was undeliverable in the first place.

What Is Bounced Email Exactly?

The short answer is that bounced email (sometimes called bounce mail)  is email you send out that comes back as undeliverable. The more complex answer is that there are two types of bounced email and each means different things.

The two types of bounced email are hard bounces and soft bounces.

Hard Bounces

This is email that comes back as undeliverable because the address is invalid. That can happen for a few different reasons:

  • The email address was deleted or made inactive by the owner
  • The address does not exist
  • The email address was misspelled
  • Flagged content prevents the email from being delivered
  • The email address owner has blocked the sender
  • The email address was deleted or made inactive by a third party

How the first five hard bounce emails happened is pretty self-explanatory.

The last one, however, is a bit trickier. If the email address is corporate, the owner of the address may no longer work there. Another possibility is that the owner of the address changed primary emails and had the bounced email become inactive.

Soft Bounces

Soft bounce email is processed by the addressee’s server, but returned as undeliverable. This usually happens because:

  • The recipient’s mailbox is full
  • The email server is down
  • The recipient no longer has an account at that address

How to Lower Bounce Email Totals

There are several things that can be done to reduce the overall total of bounced emails:

  • Utilize an opt-in process to get addresses from people that want the email in question
  • Only buy commercial email lists where the “valid address rate” is guaranteed
  • Spam check email to see if it is getting flagged as spam
  • Contact users regularly asking them to update their contact information
  • Remove hard bounce email addresses when the bounce email hits the senders inbox

What if Bounced Emails Suddenly Increase?

About the only way for hard emails to suddenly increase in any volume is if the list being used has a lot of invalid email addresses. The only way to minimize bounced emails as much as possible is to use a verification service regularly to purge “dead emails” from the master list.

While a list will always have soft bounce email addresses, it is unlikely the total number of soft bounce email addresses will increase suddenly or dramatically. If soft bounce email suddenly do increase, it is likely a server issue at the recipients end.

While eliminating bounced emails entirely is impossible, the steps above can go a long way towards reducing their number before they become an issue. The key is verifying addresses as much as possible and using opt-in features to attract addresses and people who want to hear from the organization or person sending out an email.