We endeavor to deliver non-technical, non-jargon blog content to all email marketers – rookies and experienced alike.

One terminology we regularly come across is bouncing emails and what these are.

A common misconception is that a bounced email is when you receive an out-of-office automated message, but this is incorrect. An email bounce means the email was not delivered to the desired recipient.

There are two types of bounces – soft and hard:

Soft bounces can occur if a recipient’s email address is valid – but their inbox was full, or the receiving server had a temporary failure.

Hard bounces occur if an email address is invalid, or is no longer in use. This might be the result of an email address not being real, a domain no longer existing, an employee leaving a company rendering their address no longer valid, etc.

See our Terminology Guide for further descriptions.

Are bounced emails a problem and can I prevent them?

If your email campaigns regularly record high bounce rates, then this can have a negative impact on future deliverability. High bounce rates risk your future emails being treated as spam, further damaging your sender reputation.

By default, the bounce rules within Campaignmaster determine that a recipient will automatically be suppressed when 4 consecutive soft-bounces have been recorded, or 2 consecutive hard-bounces. Therefore, if you attempt to send to these bounced recipients repeatedly, you are eventually prevented from doing so. This will help reduce your total number of bounces, subsequently helping your sender reputation and spam score.

The above states that bounces can cause emails to be treated as spam, but the reverse is also true – your campaigns can bounce with legitimate recipients because your campaigns are already being treated as spam. Email filtering software (e.g. Bitdefender, Mimecast, Proofpoint, etc.) might have blacklisted your sender domain/IP due to spam activity. When that happens this information is passed on to spam filters (e.g. Barracuda, Spamcop, etc) which causes your email campaigns to be treated as spam, resulting in them being rejected/bounced by the recipient. The best way to prevent this is for your email campaigns to perform well in our Advanced Spam Analysis module.

Fortunately, when you upload a list/recipient into Campaignmaster the platform will automatically determine if an email address is in the correct format. If it is not then the recipient won’t be added (i.e. if there are any spaces in the email address, extra @ symbols, missing @ symbols, etc.). This means that if you upload a recipient’s email address in the incorrect format, you won’t be able to accidently send campaigns to them and subsequently record a hard-bounce. You can help further by maintaining a clean list of customer data.

If recipients are bouncing because a company’s domain has changed then it is also possible within CMEM to update the domains of all email addresses belonging to that company. For example, you could change all email addresses that end in “@oldcompany.com” to “@newcompany.com”.

I hope that you found this blog useful. If you need help with any aspect of your email marketing, please get in touch at info@campaignmaster.co.uk.