Hard vs Soft Email Bounce Rate: What’s the Difference?

Inioluwa Ademuwagun

January 9, 2023

Table of Contents

Hard vs Soft Email Bounce Rate: What's the Difference?

One of the goals of your email campaign is to reach out to an engaged subscriber and turn them into your loyal customer. You’ll need to know about so many metrics to track your email performance.

Bounce rate is one of the most important factors to note when dealing with email marketing as a whole. If you’re struggling with identifying why your email keeps bouncing and you’re looking for solutions to reduce your bounce rate, then this article is for you. 

In this blog post, we will help you to understand what an email bounce rate is, what’s the difference between a hard and soft bounce, and how you can reduce your email bounce rate.

What is an Email Bounce Rate?

An email bounce rate is the percentage of email addresses in a mailing list that do not receive sent messages.

Bounces happen when emails cannot be delivered, in most cases the email service tools will provide a reason for why your email bounced. 

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

Hard Email Bounces 

A hard bounce happens when an email fails to deliver to a recipient’s email server for permanent reasons, like an invalid recipient address. 

A high volume of hard bounces can be dangerous to your email deliverability because most email service providers immediately clear the recipient’s email address from your list if it doesn’t deliver after 72 hours.

Once this happens, the email address is removed from future campaigns or becomes placed in a suppression list. A suppression list is a different type of subscriber list that contains email addresses you don’t want to send to.

You may try resending the email again but it’s best to end further attempts so you can improve your bounce rate.

Soft Email Bounces

A soft bounce happens when an email doesn’t deliver to a recipient because of temporary and correctable issues, like a file attachment that’s too large or the recipient’s inbox being too full. 

Oftentimes, Email Service Providers (ESPs) will attempt to re-send the email to the recipient. When your email bounces, you’re likely to receive an automated notification from them explaining why your email couldn’t be delivered. 

If you don’t get the detailed reason, you can also contact the ESPs yourself for issues related to soft bounces. 

Most error messages contain the date and time of the bounce, the mail server that caused the bounce, and the Remote Function Call (RFC) code that contains the reason for the bounce. 

Why Do Emails Bounce?

A recent study has shown that the overall average business bounce rate is over 10%. When you understand why emails bounce you can take proper action that can help you to benchmark your campaign results

Here are a few reasons why you may experience both hard and soft email bounce rates 

  • Full Inbox 

If the recipient’s inbox is full, they will no longer be able to receive any new emails and this can cause the email to soft bounce. You won’t be able to send emails to them unless they clear their inbox. 

  • Invalid Email Address

The recipient’s email address could be incorrect and it’s a common reason why your email may bounce. It happens mostly because of a typo in the name of the recipient or the email domain. 

  • Buying Email Lists

This is a common reason for your email to hard bounce. If you buy an email list that contains old and inactive email addresses, your emails may not get delivered. 

It’s best to avoid this method of email acquisition and focus on getting quality email addresses that are owned by authentic people that are interested in your brand. 

  • Content Blockers 

Some recipients may use automated content blockers to block some content they don’t want to see. If your email contains a kind of content the recipient has flagged as inappropriate, it will definitely bounce. 

For example, a recipient can block content containing words like

  • “50% off”
  • “Act now!”
  • “Free offer”

If your email uses words that were flagged by the recipient, it will definitely be blocked. 

  • Inactive Inbox

A recipient’s inbox can be tagged as “inactive” if the person has not used or logged into their email for a long period of time. If you send an email to an inactive address, your email may be rejected until the recipient logs into the account. 

  • Email Message Size 

In some cases, your email can bounce because the size of the email is too big. The attached files you have are the primary cause of this. You can try to resolve the issue by compressing the files to make them smaller, or remove any files that are not that important. 

  • Domain Name System Failure

Your email can bounce if the recipient’s domain name system is experiencing issues, it’s mostly a temporary issue and can be fixed. Sometimes DNS services can crash for a little time or go down temporarily while they are being updated.

It can take longer than expected depending on the recipient’s domain issues, but as long as there’s an unresolved system failure, your messages won’t be delivered. 

  • Anti-spam Filters

In rare cases, your emails can bounce back from recipients that use anti-spam or anti-virus applications to ensure their email inboxes stay safe and clean.

In this case the recipient would have to disable the application for your email to get delivered if it has been flagged for whatever reason. 

How to Reduce Email Bounce Rate 

If you’re looking to reduce your email bounce rate, here are a few tips you should consider:

  • Keep your email list clean

Ensure that the email addresses you’re adding to your list are valid and active. You should check your email list frequently and remove invalid emails. This will improve your delivery rate and increase your reputation with email marketing tools. 

  • Frequently monitor your bounce rate

This can prove very helpful if you intend to get better, and track your bounce rate every day or as frequently as you need to. By regularly monitoring the rates you can make adjustments to better your email campaigns. 

There are email service providers and applications like SendinBlue and GetResponse that are available to help track your bounce rate and suggest how you can make reduce it. 

  • Ensure you’re not sending spam emails

It’s very likely that your recipient has already blocked any spammy language, if you keep sending emails containing some of those phrases they will keep bouncing.

If you’re reaching out to a recipient for the first time, it’s best to avoid words that sound like you want to sell to them. 

Conclusion 

You should always ensure you take note of why your emails may be bouncing, how frequently they bounce, and to fix it. More importantly, ensure you’re sending emails to a list of recipients who gave you consent to be on your mailing list and can identify with your brand or business.

That way you can get more engagement and conversion, this will also ensure that you’re abiding by all the laws governing spam and reduce your bounce rate. 

We’re all about helping you make the best decisions regarding email marketing, check our blog for free resources and information.

If you’re looking to scale your email marketing results, reach out to us, we offer the best services to double your conversion. 

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