January 18, 2023

10 Ways to Reduce Email Bounce Rate

By: Mary Hiers

A high email bounce rate means a large percentage of the emails you send are “bouncing” back to you rather than being delivered. Over time, a high bounce rate can seriously harm your email marketing and tarnish your reputation.

Fortunately, you can do a lot to reduce your email bounce rate. Here is what you need to know and what you need to do. 

Understand Hard and Soft Bounces

Not all email bounces are the same. The two types of bounces are soft bounces and hard bounces. 

Soft bounces generally aren’t problematic. They happen because

  • The recipient’s email inbox is full
  • A mail server is down
  • The message is too large
  • The server can’t handle a large influx of messages in a short period of time

In other words, they are temporary delivery issues. Normally, if you wait, soft bounces will resolve themselves, and they rarely cause long-term problems.

Hard bounces are permanent delivery failures. They happen because

  • An email address no longer exists
  • There’s a misspelling in the address
  • The recipient blocked you

While you can’t avoid hard bounces altogether, a high rate of hard email bounces can cause problems. Email platform providers can even find you guilty of “suspicious email list practices” if your hard email bounce rate is too high. 

You will have wasted effort, and your email marketing can suffer. This is a shame since email marketing traditionally has a high ROI.

If your email bounce rate exceeds 2%, it’s a problem. But you can prevent that from happening if you follow these 10 best practices. Click on an item to learn more.

  1. Regularly Validate Your Email List
  2. Don’t Buy Email Lists
  3. Double Opt-In and CAPTCHA Are Your Friends
  4. Write Good Emails
  5. Send Emails at a Regular Cadence
  6. Monitor Bounce and Deliverability Rates
  7. Use Email Authentication Protocols
  8. Make It Easy to Unsubscribe
  9. Use Your ESP’s Suppression List Capabilities
  10. Don’t Send Emails from a Free Domain

1. Regularly Validate Your Email List

Email data lists “decay” by over 22% per year. Mostly, this happens because of people changing jobs or roles.

Therefore, you should validate your email list data regularly. Do it twice a year if possible, but no less often than once a year. 

Validation services exist to take care of this for you, but there are things you can do as well. Every quarter, check which recipients have failed to engage with your emails. Reach out to these recipients and ask if they want to continue to receive your emails. If they don’t, strike them from your list. 

Keeping your email list data “clean” and current can keep hard bounces to a minimum.

2. Don’t Buy Email Lists

It takes time, but you need to build your email list organically. Make it easy for people to join your email list from your website and/or blog. 

You can also ask for email sign-ups at in-person events. Your sales team or your point-of-sale personnel can ask for them as well. 

Purchased email lists mean you’re sending emails to people who didn’t ask for them. It’s a great way to get blocked and put on spam lists. 

Additionally, you can’t be sure the email addresses are real with purchased lists. And many of these lists contain “spam traps” that damage your reputation as a sender. 

The speed of a purchased email list is quickly overshadowed by the damage it can do to your reputation. Always build your email list organically.

3. Double Opt-In and CAPTCHA Are Your Friends

While you don’t want to needlessly complicate the process of joining your email list, you should require a double opt-in. This means when someone signs up, you immediately send them an email asking them to verify their email address.

Double opt-ins help ensure email addresses are correct and that the recipient wants to receive your emails. Some companies also use a CAPTCHA challenge to keep bots from signing up for their email lists. 

4. Write Good Emails

You will annoy people if your emails are poorly written, use too many “spam” words, or are sent too frequently. They may report you for spam, and this can harm your reputation. 

Writing good emails and sending them at a reasonable, predictable pace can help keep you out of spam filters and keep your deliverability high.

5. Send Emails at a Regular Cadence

People are more comfortable if they know that you send out marketing emails weekly, biweekly, or at some other predictable pace. A sudden influx from you can come across as spammy.

Surprises may be nice for birthdays but not for email marketing. The steadier your email cadence, the less likely recipients are to balk and report you for spam.

6. Monitor Bounce and Deliverability Rates

Knowing your email bounce rate is the first step to managing it. Most email service providers (ESPs) generate this data. 

Often, ESPs give you bounce rates along with codes that tell you whether they are soft or hard bounces. For example, a 2.2 code indicates that the recipient’s mailbox was full, hence a soft bounce. A 1.8 code indicates that the address you were using was wrong and it was a hard bounce. 

As your email bounce rate increases, your deliverability rate decreases. Therefore, if you notice a steady decline in deliverability rate, it’s a good idea to check your email bounce rate to see if there are problems with your list. 

7. Use Email Authentication Protocols

There are several email authentication methods. Different ESPs and email hosting providers use different methods. The main ones are

  • Sender Policy Framework (SPF)
  • Domain Keys Identified Mail (DKIM)
  • Domain Message Authentication Reporting and Conformance (DMARC)
  • Brand Indicators for Message Identification (BIMI)

If your email marketing uses an authentication protocol, it indicates to the receiving email host that you are legitimate.

8. Make It Easy to Unsubscribe

It may seem counterintuitive to make it easy for people to unsubscribe from your email list. But it can reassure people on your list that you’re not holding their email address hostage. 

A simple, one-click unsubscribe process allows people to leave your email list without a bad taste in their mouths. Likewise, having a change of address link at the bottom of your marketing emails makes it easier for people to continue receiving your emails at a new email address. 

9. Use Your ESP’s Suppression List Capabilities

Many ESPs have what are called suppression lists. A suppression list automatically puts hard-bounce email addresses on a list. You cannot send emails to addresses on the list. 

The fact that it’s all automated means you don’t have to manage hard bounces manually. You should, however, periodically check your suppression list and remove the emails on it from your master email list. 

10. Don’t Send Emails from a Free Domain

Using a free email provider like Gmail or Yahoo can be tempting if you have a brand new or small business. These email addresses won’t pass the DMARC authentication protocol, so you’ll have a higher email bounce rate.

Sending your marketing emails from a paid business email provider that gives you emails specific to your website domain is infinitely better. They’re clearly business emails, and they will stand up to authentication protocols. 

A high email bounce rate is bad for businesses in every industry of every size. To combat a high bounce rate, it’s essential to make sure your email lists are accurate and up-to-date.

Authentication protocols, suppression lists, and writing high-quality emails can also help avoid bounces. Additionally, it’s always important to monitor your email bounce rate and delivery rate, so any problems are spotted immediately. 

By utilizing all these strategies, you can keep your email bounce rate low and maximize the success of your email marketing efforts. If you need extra help creating an effective email marketing campaign or advice on reducing bounces in your emails, set up a call with our team. We are happy to assist in any way we can.

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