How to Reduce High Bounce Rates for Your Email Marketing


Email Marketing Bounce Rate is an important metric when determining the success of your email campaigns. As an email marketer, whether you are using a private or third party email delivery service, you must ensure that bounce rates for your email marketing is low in order to safeguard the reputation of your sender IP.

In particular if you are sending emails through a third party email delivery service provider, they will provide strict acceptable “Bounce Rate” threshold for those who use their service to avoid being labeled as a server that delivers spam. Therefore, extreme care must be taken in order not to exceed the acceptable or permitted “Bounce Rate” for any email campaign you send through their platforms.

Hence, all third party email delivery services has a specific allowed or permitted bounce rate for every email campaign you send using their services. If you exceed this rate, your account may be suspended or deactivated. In most cases, these third party email delivery services are required by ISPs/ESP and Spam Advisory Groups such as Spamhaus to enforce the bounce rate thresholds and suspend any account that exceeds these thresholds in order to prevent Spam.

What is Bounce Rate?

Bounce rate is simply the percentage of emails that is returned undelivered when you send out your campaign. The bounce rate can tell you the proportion of email addresses that failed to receive the message that you sent because the message was returned by the mailer server or client. Bounces of this nature will raise your bounce rates and negatively impact your sender reputation and obviously have a damaging effect on your delivery rate as well.

Although most third party email services do not explicitly specify their bounce rate limit, as a rule of thumb, anything between 10-15% may be considered high.

The Bounce Rate is expressed as a percentage and is calculated as follows:

Bounce Rate = No of Bounces X 100
Total No of Emails Sent

How to Reduce Bounce Rates:

The following measures can be used to reduce your bounce rates :

1. As a rule and as required by CAN-SPAM law, always include an "unsubscribe" link in your email campaigns. Doing this will allow the recipient to be in control of whether or not they want to receive your campaigns in the future.

2. Always strive to build your mailing lists using a "double opt-in" or "verified opt-in list" process. Never extract or generate email addresses! Avoid the use of email extractors.

3. Consider implementing our real-time email validation API (Application Programming Interface) to capture and validate your subscribers email addresses in real-time on your signup form or subscription form directly on your website. When subscribers register and enters their email on the form on your website or blog, the API enabled form can automatically check to see if the email address supplied is valid or not and if it is not, displays a prompt for the subscriber to enter another email. In addition, our email validation API can be utilized on your signup or subscription form to instantly reject certain undesirable emails such as Disposable emails, Role emails, Catch-All emails and known blacklisted/Bot emails etc and can help you prevent fake registrations by eliminating up to 98% of spam and bot registrations.

4. If you are renting third party email lists or have purchased an email list from a list broker, as a rule never use such lists without validating them. Although renting or buying lists is legal, it has its own pitfalls. For example, if you purchase a email list and upload it to a reputable third party email delivery service provider, you risk your account suspended due to the high bounce rates that may result. This is because most purchased lists are outdated and never maintained. Thus before using that purchased list, consider validating it using an email validation service.

5. Finally, even after taking the steps above, a small percentage of your campaigns may still bounce due to factors beyond your control. In particular, these bounces will result from temporary issues (Soft Bounces) such as SMTP server timeout or downtime, Greylisting, Mailbox size Exceeds quota, temporary mailbox suspension/deactivation, and temporary blockings due to IP reputation.

In addition, please note that even though you have validated your lists before sending your campaigns to the lists , you may still encounter bounces. Email validation is NEVER 100% accurate. For example, some email addresses marked as Valid by the email verifier may not be Valid in reality. This false positive is caused by a strict anti-spam technology employed by some ISPs notably Yahoo. With Yahoo in particular, deactivated/suspended/expired emails are marked as Valid by the verifier because Yahoo regards these emails as valid or “existent” even though such emails are not active and cannot receive emails. Hence when you attempt to send your campaigns to such emails, they will bounce because the emails are not active.

Thus to take care of this percentage of emails that will bounce even after following the measures outlined on this guide, you must also have a bounce management system in place that will sort through the bounces and automatically delete or archive the bounce emails. In addition, if you have alternate contact information such as postal address or phone number for the subscribers whose emails has bounced, call or mail them a postcard to let them know their email bounced and you’d like to get an updated one. Also, it is recommended to offer your subscribers a way to update their email address and other account details somewhere on your website.

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