For something so simple, email marketing can get pretty deep. The typical business using this method is up to their necks in testing procedures, going over reports and plotting strategy for the next campaign. Surely there is enough to worry about to justify keeping those bounces on the back burner a little while longer, right? Wrong. Bounced email is a serious deal and one that needs to be addressed immediately.
Soft or Hard?
When discovering that you’ve got a bouncing problem on your hands, the first thing you should do is assess the damage. You need to determine if it falls in one of two groups: soft or hard. A soft bounce is the lesser of two evils, so to speak. It isn’t as severe. The email delivery system is not as simple as it seems. There are a lot of things working together and if that harmony is disrupted, your message may not be delivered, even if only temporarily. In most cases, a soft bounce is correctable.
Hard bounces are the real outlaws, the ones that can stir up big trouble and threaten your reputation. This kind is much more straightforward. If your email does not transmit successfully, then the process is considered a failure. There is no holdup or quarantine for further observation. The message failed. No ifs, ands or buts about it.
Meet the Culprits
An email marketer can better address soft and hard bounces by understanding what causes an email to bounce. The soft variety is often the result of a capacity issue. Your subscriber has been overwhelmed and their inbox is stuffed with unread messages and spam. If your message arrives when there is no room left, it will have no other choice but to bounce.
The hard variety is usually the result of a bad email address. A subscriber who switches ISPs or moves on to another job could be the source. Unless they update their subscription data, you have no way of knowing their email address is soon to be invalid. When it goes bad, any messages sent to it will automatically bounce.
Service providers read multiple hard bounces to the same address as attempts to spam, because the messages are going out regardless of response. If you use Benchmark Email’s campaign scheduler, we automatically transfer email addresses that have had two consecutive hard bounces to a “Confirmed Bounces” list. To protect your sending reputation, these contacts are then excluded from your future active contact count and will not be sent any email.
A Clean List Is the Key
Be it soft or hard, bounced email has to be dealt with. Continuing to strike out will do nothing but drive up the costs of your campaign and make your email marketing more expensive than it should be. Staying on top of it can get hectic, but if you have a good system, then you have tools that will keep track of your bounces and remove email addresses causing failures before they become a problem.
The importance of managing bounces ties into the importance of maintaining a clean list. If your messages keep crashing, it will only be a matter of time before an ISP decides to blacklist you from the entire server. Don’t waste your efforts on email addresses that provide no return. Get a handle of those bounces and make sure your list stays in tip-top condition.