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9 Ways to Reduce Your Email Bounce Rate

Updated Oct 03, 2023

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To get the most out of your email marketing, your messages need to actually land in your subscribers’ inboxes. That’s why keeping a close eye on your email bounce rate is vital. Email bounce rate is one of the important metrics, yet digital marketing teams often overlook it. If your email cannot be delivered, then your message will not get through to subscribers. But what exactly does your bounce rate measure, and how can you improve it?

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What is an email bounce rate?

A bounce rate represents the number of emails in a campaign that “bounce” back, meaning they could not be delivered to the intended recipient. A high bounce rate negatively impacts engagement and email deliverability – crucial performance indicators for any email marketing campaign.

There are two types of email bounces: soft and hard.

  • Soft bounce: Typically due to a full inbox, server issue or even an unusually large email, soft bounces are temporary delays and generally less problematic for marketing teams. Contacts that yield soft bounces do not need to be immediately removed from email lists. However, if problems persist, you may want to remove those addresses, as they could impact future deliverability.
  • Hard bounce: A hard bounce means there is a permanent delivery failure. This can occur when an email address is incorrect or a domain has expired. Worse yet, a hard bounce may be indicative of a spam label. You should always take these contacts off your email list as soon as you identify the hard bounce, since an increased bounce rate can lead to a spam designation (more on that later).

How do you calculate bounce rate?

Bounce rate is fairly easy to determine, even if your company doesn’t use email marketing software. Use this equation to determine your campaign’s bounce rate as a percentage:

(Number of Bounced Emails / Number of Emails Sent) x 100

For example, if your email newsletter goes out to 10,000 contacts and 15 bounce back, your bounce rate would be 0.15 percent.

You should monitor your bounce rates closely, as they represent the health of your company’s email list and the marketing campaigns themselves.

What is a good email bounce rate?

Even the best email marketers experience a bounced email occasionally, but consistent bounces, whether soft or hard, are worth noting. Acceptable bounce rates vary slightly between industries but should be less than 2 percent on average. Bounce rates between 2 and 5 percent are slightly troubling, and anything above 5 percent is a definite cause for concern. This may demonstrate an issue in the email acquisition process or the emails being sent in general.

How to reduce your email bounce rate

If your marketing email campaigns are seeing higher bounce rates than you’d like, try the following tactics:

1. Scrub your email list regularly.

Some email addresses on your list will inevitably become inactive over time. Subscribers may switch to a different email address, and business associates may move to new companies. These contacts are bounces waiting to happen. By systematically scrubbing your email list on a regular basis, you can keep your bounce rates low.

Delete any addresses that have hard bounced (or several soft bounces) or have not opened an email in several months. You can do this manually or via a third-party service such as NeverBounce, which automatically determines which email addresses are still valid and worth your valuable time.

2. Ensure emails aren’t spammy.

Marketing emails should be thoughtful and captivating, not obnoxious and aggressive. Statista found that spam accounts for 53 percent of emails sent around the world, and email service providers have taken steps to reduce the barrage of fake inheritance letters and weight loss pill advertisements flooding inboxes every day. This could mean your useful company newsletter may get flagged, even if it’s not technically spam.

Follow these tips to break past spam filters:

  • Triple-check for broken images and other formatting problems.
  • Avoid copy commonly used in spam, such as “100% satisfied,” “free” and “act now.”
  • Include business information such as your company’s address and phone number in the email footer.
  • Use sentence case and contacts’ first names in subject lines to appear less imposing.

3. Double your opt-ins – and make them count.

Deploying a double opt-in strategy when a new subscriber signs up for your marketing emails will help keep spam accounts and bots at bay, so it’s an excellent way to combat high bounce rates.

A double opt-in requires a contact to confirm their email address through an initial email that they receive automatically upon registration. This ensures the email address they provided is correct and able to accept your company’s correspondence. You may also want to remind the subscriber to add your marketing email address to their contacts to prevent spam filtering of your emails.

4. Segment email lists by engagement.

Email service providers analyze many different metrics in an attempt to identify junk mail, including open rates (the percentage of sent emails that were opened) and click-through rates (what portion of the opened email was interacted with). While they aren’t the most important factors, they still play a key role.

Segmenting email lists by engagement is a great practice for marketing departments and businesses in general, as it can help effectively target your efforts. In this case, you determine which contacts had the highest engagement rates with past email campaigns, and send future emails to these people first. This is an easy way to avoid ending up in the spam folder.

TipBottom line

Before removing a subscriber from your list for not interacting with your content, try a re-engagement strategy.

5. Send campaigns consistently.

Remaining in touch with the people you care about is the cornerstone of any relationship, and email marketing is no different. If you send newsletters or product announcements sporadically or irregularly, subscribers might forget who you are and why they signed up to receive your emails in the first place, priming them to unsubscribe and mark your emails for their spam folder.

Regular, meaningful campaigns encourage contacts to anticipate your content, which will ultimately increase your open rates. (Don’t overdo it, though; too many emails will feel intrusive.)

6. Do not buy email lists.

Purchasing contact lists is never recommended, as this almost always increases bounce rates. Whether from trade show organizers looking to further monetize attendees or a service that offers curated, industry-specific B2B targets, the promise of instant success from a sea of strangers is really just a bait-and-switch.

The contacts on these email lists never opted in to your marketing campaigns and will likely mark your communications as spam. One too many spam designations, and the entire domain may blacklist your organization, which is an extremely challenging and costly problem to overcome. The risks of buying email lists outweigh any possible rewards. It’s simply not worth it.

FYIDid you know

An organically grown email marketing list will give you the best results. Build your email list by promoting it on your website, social media and landing pages, as well as via offline methods such as QR codes, SMS and signage.

7. Use your own domain.

Sending emails from an owned domain is another simple way to avoid spam detection, as it legitimizes your business. While free Gmail or Yahoo accounts may be acceptable for personal correspondence, professional communications should always come from a company email address.

Most website providers can integrate emails with mainstay service providers such as Google, offering a streamlined way to keep in touch with your subscribers without setting off junk-mail alarms.

TipBottom line

Remove generic email addresses from your list, such as contact@, info@ and sales@, since these probably go to a general email box and are likely to get your emails tagged as spam.

8. Conduct A/B tests.

To help determine how emails resonate with subscribers, try A/B testing. This means you send two slightly different versions of the same email to select contacts, with the version that garners the most engagement winning the right to be sent to the rest of your contacts. Variations you can test include different subject lines, text links vs. buttons for your call to action and different placement of the lead content.

A/B tests are particularly useful in reducing bounce rates, as they may reveal which emails are perceived as spammy and, better yet, what your audience enjoys engaging with the most.

9. Invite contacts to update their information.

This seemingly obvious tactic is often overlooked in the sea of email marketing strategies, but it could make a world of difference. As discussed earlier, people change their email addresses for various reasons. Some choose to phase out one address while transitioning to another one, offering a window of opportunity for businesses looking to stay in touch.

A message with an “update profile” form will allow subscribers to inform your company of any changes in their contact information, including their email address. You can then amend this data in your master contact list, preventing a hard bounce.

The best email marketing software for tracking and reducing bounce rate

Using top email marketing software not only makes it easier to send frequent bulk messages, but it can also help you track your email KPIs, including bounce rate. Here are some of the best ones for reducing your bounce rate.

Constant Contact

Constant Contact is an email marketing solution that has been around for a while and is always adding new functionality. One of its standout features is its marketing automation. You can set up your account to respond to behavioral triggers. For example, when you have a soft bounce, you can set up the system to automatically retry the email or send a link to update the subscriber’s contact information. With Constant Contact, subscribers have the ability to manage their personal data and account privacy. Learn more in our full review of Constant Contact.

monday.com

While monday.com is well known for its project management platform, it does have the ability to integrate with external email marketing programs, using the data that they produce. Its WorkForms functionality allows you to monitor the campaign progress and the KPIs in an easy-to-read column format. monday.com helps coordinate the members of your team so that everyone has the relevant data at their fingertips and can make any necessary changes, such as removing hard-bounced email addresses or tweaking the copy on future campaigns. Learn more in our full review of monday.com

Salesforce Marketing Cloud

If you already use Salesforce for your CRM, the Salesforce Marketing Cloud is a seamless add-on that can really help keep your bounce rates low. Because it draws on such a wealth of customer data, Salesforce Marketing Cloud allows you to get specific with personalization. The more personalized your emails are, the less likely that they will be marked as spam and the more engaged your subscribers will be, increasing the chance that they will let you know proactively of any changes in their contact information. Learn more in our complete review of Salesforce Marketing Cloud.

HubSpot

Like Salesforce, HubSpot’s email platform is a part of a larger suite of marketing products. This integration allows you to sync your email campaigns with other parts of your marketing outreach. For example, you can coordinate your lead management with your email so that you can update a contact’s email address when they move to another company and fill out a lead form. In addition, HubSpot has AI capability that can help you quickly create engaging, personalized content. 

Email bounce rate, a small but crucial metric

Maximizing ROI is a key goal of any business or marketing department, and email campaign metrics are important indicators of performance. Bounce rates, while only one small piece of the puzzle, are still imperative to analyze. They serve as health indicators for your email list, leading you to the data insights you need to ensure your future campaigns’ success. Consider this data the low-hanging fruit of your email marketing strategy, using the techniques above to pick off your soft and hard bounces consistently and effectively.

Rachelle Gordon
Contributing Writer at business.com
Rachelle Gordon is a Minneapolis-based content writer who has written extensively on topics such as finance, marketing, cannabis, sustainability and tech. Her work has appeared in Benzinga, SlickDeals, and High Times. Prior to her career in journalism, Rachelle was an educator and has a passion for sharing knowledge. She enjoys helping businesses maximize efficiency while staying true to their core values.
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