How to understand email bounce rates


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Have you ever had to deal with this email marketing problem before? You upload your subscriber lists, send out an email campaign, then suddenly your subscriber base drops.

Where did they all go? Experienced email marketers will quickly check their Campaign Report in order to find out if the audience is clicking ‘Unsubscribe. Subscribers will disappear if they aren’t following up on their mail list management.

Sometimes, however it is necessary to check your email bounce rate in order to pinpoint the problem. If your bouncerate is increasing, your subscribers might not be receiving your emails due to one reason or the other. In this case, they could be removed from your list and placed on an inactive list.

This article will show you how to do it.

  • What are email bounces?
  • Acceptable and normal bounce rates
  • The difference between soft- and hard email bounces
  • High bounce rates can be due to several reasons
  • How to reduce high bounce rates in email

Let’s just jump in!

What is email bounce rate?

Although it might sound like fun to say, bounce is actually quite frustrating. In simple terms:

Your subscriber’s system will bounce the email back for many reasons. We will go into detail in the next section. Email campaign reports can show you the bounce rates for your email marketing campaigns.

Bounced-back emails can negatively impact your email delivery. This is because high bounce rates can negatively impact sender reputation and should be fixed immediately.

But don’t worry. We’ll walk you through the different types and tell you how to fix them.

How is the email bounce-rate calculated?

Your Email Service Provider, (ESP), will display the bounce rate in the shape of a neat percent. But how is this percentage calculated? It’s actually quite simple!

To calculate bounce-rate, simply multiply the number bounced emails with the total mails sent .

Let’s say that you send out 80,000 emails. You get 156 back.

(156 / 80.000) x 100 = 0.2% bounce rates.

What is an acceptable bounce rate for emails?

It is nearly impossible to reach a 100% deliverability ratio with your email marketing campaigns. However, bounces are to be expected. But you should always strive to have the lowest bounce rate.

Email marketing experts accept a maximum of 2% as the minimum acceptable bounce rate. If your reports keep on increasing in bounce rate, or you find that they are exceeding it, then it’s time take stock of the health of your list and start optimizing it. Your email bounce rates could increase due to a variety of factors. They are more likely to rise the older your list is.

Average bounce rate per industry

If your bounce rate is more than 2%, don’t panic. Because of their different demographics, email bounce rates can vary widely from industry-to-industry.

MailerLite customers reported that the average bounce ratio across all industries is 0.555%. Not bad at all!

Let’s see how our data shows us the average bounce rate for each industry in email marketing.

What the difference is between hard and soft bounce rates

Email bounce rates are divided into two main categories: soft bounces, and hard bounces.

Soft bounce rates

This refers the amount of soft-bounces your email has been receiving. If the email fails to reach its recipient’s mailbox, it is called a soft bounce. You could see your soft bounce rate increase due to multiple reasons.

Hard bounce rates

A hard bounce number, on the contrary, informs you about how many hard rejections your email has received. A hard bounce happens when the email cannot deliver for any reason. The email is returned to sender and is therefore undeliverable. This means that your email marketing tool won’t send email to the addresses you have provided. A high hard bounce is problematic for email delivery .

Why do emails bounce back?

It’s usually not your email software that is responsible for bounced emails. Your email software will send an email and it will fail to reach the subscriber. What are those reasons? We are glad you asked.

Reasons high soft bounce rate:

  • Limits on mailbox capacity: If you exceed this limit, your email will be bounced to you.
  • Server timing out: A subscriber’s mail server might be temporarily unavailable or overloaded. If this happens, all incoming messages could bounce. If this happens, it is possible to try sending your next campaign again.
  • Too large a message: This is a rare situation, but there are some sensitive filters that can limit the message size. If your email contains too many GIFs or images, your email could bounce back.
  • Email account temporarily resigned: An account that has been unsigned in for more than 365 consecutive days or if the server has detected suspicious behavior could be temporarily resigned. The email will then bounce because you have it )….
  • DMARC/SPF requirements Your email message might fail to meet the recipient mail server’s DMARC requirements. Simply put, it can’t verify who sent the email.

Reasons high hard bounce rates

  • No email address exists: Invalid messages are the most common reason to hard bounce. This happens when the address of an intended recipient is incorrect or if they have switched providers.
  • Email message is blocked by the receiver’s server Other corporate, government, institutional domains have stricter filter settings.

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