Decrease Your Email Bounce Rate With These Best Practices


Do you know your current email bounce rate? If you’re frequently sending email campaigns, this is an important metric to stay on top of. You should manage email bounce backs responsibly after every sent campaign.

Unfortunately, high bounce rates hurt your email deliverability.

Fortunately, an email bounce means you get an error message back, which allows you to uncover the problem.

But not all bounces are created equal – it’s important to know the different kinds of bounces, what factors cause each, and how to act on them accordingly. Keep a good email reputation and improve deliverability by reviewing these email bounce back best practices.

First, what is a bounced email?

A bounced email is when you receive an error email indicating that your message failed to deliver to your intended recipient. Your email is either rejected by the recipient’s email server or possibly your own mail server. There are 2 types of email bounces:

1. Soft bounces

2. Hard bounces

Soft bounce email

Soft bounce emails are a temporary issue – these typically mean that the email address is valid but the recipient is temporarily unavailable such as their mailbox is full or their server is down.

Good news: most email services will attempt to resend the message after a soft bounce occurs, but if not – resend the message yourself at a later time.

What are the common causes of soft bounces?

  • The recipient’s mailbox is full
  • The server is down
  • Message size is too large
  • Account is temporarily down

Hard bounce email

Hard bounces are unfortunately permanent issues – your email is undeliverable. These are the bounces that really hurt your bounce rate. Hard bounces mean that the email address failed or was rejected by the server. This is often a sign of an old and outdated email list. The best thing you can do to protect your bounce rate is never re-send emails to addresses that received a hard bounce.

What are the common causes of hard bounces?

  • Invalid email address
  • Email address doesn’t exist
  • Email blocked
  • Outdated domain

What is the average email bounce rate?

Email bounce rates are calculated by the number of bounced emails divided by the number of sent emails. These indicate your email reputation – you should always stay on top of this number.

Mailchimp’s extensive email study helps identify average bounce rates for us.

Average hard bounce rate across all industries = 0.40%

Average soft bounce rate across all industries = 0.58%

Campaign Monitor suggests that the benchmark bounce rate is less than 2% – anything above 2% bounce rate is worthy of your attention. The data also suggests a bounce rate over 5% suggests a significant problem that should be resolved immediately.



Interpret common bounce replies

Gmail Help provides some common bounce replies and what they mean. These error messages help indicate why your message bounced. Never disregard these – always read them and act accordingly.

“The email account that you tried to reach does not exist”

This message means that your recipient’s address might not work or exist anymore. Remember, you could have made a typo while typing the email address, so always double-check this before assuming otherwise.

“Message flagged as spam” or “Message temporarily rejected”

This message means that your message text or links look suspicious. This can also occur if you add large groups of recipients to Cc or Bcc.

“Recipient server did not accept our requests”

This message occurs when Gmail can’t connect to your recipient’s email server. This problem typically resolves on its own, but if not, try to re-send the email at a later time.

Tip: if you see a high number of bounces after sending out an email campaign – this could indicate that you got flagged by spam filters.

Tips for decreasing your email bounce rate

1. Remove hard bounces
2. Keep your email lists clean
3. Keep track of your email deliverability
4. Send emails regularly
5. Authenticate your emails
6. Use a preference center

1. Remove hard bounces:

When you get a hard bounce, remove the address from your email list. Avoid sending any more messages to this email address because it will affect your email deliverability, bounce rate, and even the likelihood of flagging spam filters.

2. Keep your email lists clean:

Maintain good list hygiene by regularly cleaning up your email list which will help limit bounce rates and keep email deliverability high. Make sure your list is up-to-date with all active and current email addresses and get rid of all unsolicited emails.

3. Keep track of your email deliverability:

Low engagement and high bounce rates will give you a bad-sender reputation, always stay on top of your email performance to never let it get to the point of damaging your email deliverability. The longer you leave bounce issues unresolved, the greater the damage to your sender reputation. Always monitor the results of your campaigns.

4. Send emails regularly:

This will help reduce high bounce rates because you are regularly interacting with your subscribers – higher engagement and keeps you on top of all active email addresses.

5. Authenticate your emails:

Authenticating your messages helps the receiver and provider confirm you’re a legitimate sender. Mailbox providers may reject your message if not. Your recipients’ servers are much more likely to bounce or even junk your emails if they can’t determine the legitimacy of the message.

6. Use a preference center:

Give your subscribers control over what they’re receiving – this will ensure accurate email addresses and recipients who know they’re receiving certain messages from you. Also, adding a preference center link to your messages can help encourage recipients to update their email addresses.


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