Article

Jenna Devinney
Jenna Devinney 30 October 2018

Understanding Hard and Soft Bounces

Bounces. What are they? And no we are not referring to basketball bouncing or bouncing on a pogo stick, we are talking about a different kind of bounce. The kind of bounces that are related to your emails. Did you know emails have the ability to bounce?

We can sit here and discuss all the myraid reasons emails fail to deliver, but what we often forget is that the return message contains important information for your company's marketing strategy. The obvious point of any email campaign is for it to be received and opened, you spend a pretty penny on email campaigns every year and you expect them to be delivered successfully to your contact lists. But the world isn't perfect, and neither are emails.

Good news, the return message is a postitive that comes out of this unfortunate situation. Don't panic when you see the return message (Message Delivery Failed) for the first time. It is good to receive a return message because it not only notifies you that your message was either rejected or generated an auto-reply, but why it was returned so you can follow the appropriate steps to fix it, get back on track, and assure that you improve your database health and deliverability. Examples, can be, the specific date and time the message bounced, which mail server made it bounce, or the reason for the bounce, and the RFC (Request for Comments) code. 

When does it occur?

An email bounce happens when your email message fails to deliver. When this occurs, the sender of the email (which is probably you) will receive a notification that the message has failed to deliver. This is called an Auto-reply, which will sometimes contain information on why the message wasn't delivered and why. It could be for many reasons such as the recipients' email address was incorrect, or their inbox was full. Whatever the reasoning, the auto-reply message determines whether the error was a hard or soft bounce, depending on the content of the message. 

Bounces directly impact your deliverability rate, and enough of them can decrease your reputation and cause other emails to go into the spam folders - or worse- be temporarily blocked by domains. They are the "Return-to Sender" of the email world. 

What are Hard Bounces? 

An email bounce happens when your email message fails to deliver. When this occurs, the sender of the email (which is probably you) will receive a notification that the message has failed to deliver. This is called an Auto-reply, which will sometimes contain information on why the message wasn't delivered and why. It coul be for many reasons such as the recipients' email address was incorrect, or their inbox was full. Whatever the reasoning, the auto-reply message determines whether the error was a hard or soft bounce, depending on the content of the message. 

Bounces directly impact your deliverability rate, and enough of them can decrease your reputation and cause other emails to go into spam folders - or worse - be temporarily blocked by domains. They are the "Return- to- Sender" of the email world. 

What are Hard Bounces? 

A hard bounce happens because there is a permanent reason an email cannot be delivered to the recipient, and is sent back to the sender. Some reasoning would be that the email  address was deleted when a person left a job, created a new one, or never existed at all. Common mistakes you can also run into is your lead gave you a fake address, or maybe you recorded it incorectly. There are many reasons why emails bounce, but here are a few common reasons. 

  • The email address does not exist.
  • The Domain doesn't exist
  • Recipients server blocked receiving message.

What are Soft Bounces?

Soft bounces are a temporary delivery issue. An email address was valid and the email message was delivered to the recipients' mail server, but bounced back due to...

  • Server was down
  • Mailbox was full
  • The message was too large

What are Auto-replies?

Auto-replies aren't considered a real bounce because your message successfully delivered to the recipient. so you might be asking why I am bringing up auto-replies if they aren't a true bounce? Well, auto-replies are still very important because they identify why the recipient isn't available. It could be because of a job change, vacation notice, or an out of office reply. The auto-reply gives you information on why your recipient couldn't respond at the time.

Eliminating Bounces

Using Webbula cloudHygiene helps eliminate hard and soft bounced emails. Eliminating bounces will help your brand maintain a positive reputation among email hosts, service providers, and consumers. Protecting your important Sender Reputation.

Sending to invalid email addresses can be damaging to your Sender Reputation. When you damage your reputation, deliverability rates among email hosts decrease, and that can become a vicious cycle that you should work to avoid.

In addition, email inboxes are becoming more selective about the content they are willing to accept. Your message may be mistaken for spam, even if you are a good sender, which could leave you at risk of being blacklisted. All of which are important issues that should be avoided at all cost.

Gain the advantage with Webbula cloudHygiene 

Email is an essential marketing tool, so you need to remember to have your email data cleaned frequently. Webbula can ensure smooth sailing when it comes to reaching your target audience by identifying those potential bounces for you. Webbula cloudHygiene is the most powerful threat identification solution available. If you use email, you should rely on Webbula. 

Learn more about Webbula cloudHygiene. 

This article was orignally posted here.

Check out these other helpful articles:

4 Best Practices for Data Hygiene 

6 Common List Management Myths

Email Hygiene: The Solution You Need 

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