How To Reduce Email Bounce Rates [4 Easy Steps]

reduce email bounce rates

How to Reduce Email Bounce Rate

As a high volume email sender that is responsible for the delivery of hundreds of thousands of emails every month, an increase in email bounce rates can cause significant setbacks. Maybe you are responsible for marketing email that produces millions in revenue, or vital password resets and order confirmation emails that customers are expecting immediately.  No matter what type of email it is, it’s important to your business and your customers. And if your deliverability is struggling, the sooner you figure out how to reduce email bounce rates, the sooner you will be on track to hitting the inbox. 

When email deliverability becomes a headache and starts costing your company or customers  money and time, knowing how to turn things around and reduce your email bounce rate will help get you back on track. 

Reducing Email Bounces Starts Here

What is an Email Bounce?

At a high level, an email bounce is an email that is sent,  and is received by the recipient server, but runs into an error before landing in the recipients inbox, causing the email to “bounce” back to the sender.  

What is a Hard Vs. Soft Email Bounce?

While the generic ‘email bounce’ is described above, there are two types of bounces: hard and soft. Simply put, a hard bounce is a permanent failure meaning the email will never reach the inbox (i.e. invalid address).  A soft bounce on the other hand encounters an issue but still could potentially be delivered at a later time(i.e. recipient mailbox is full at the time). 

What is an Email Bounce Rate?

As you may assume, an email bounce rate is the number of emails that bounce compared to the number of emails you send.  For example, a quick email bounce rate calculation might look something like this: if you send 100,000 emails and 1,000 bounce, your bounce rate is 1%. 

What is an Acceptable Email Bounce Rate?

As a leading email service, we get alot of questions about email bounce rates and what is considered ‘normal’.  Unfortunately such a question isn’t so black and white. Bounce rates will vary based on a number of factors like industry, volume, email type, sending practices, goals, etc. To put a number on it, you likely want to keep your bounce rates at 2% and lower.  Typically transactional mail will have lower bounce rates than marketing email and the conversation becomes even trickier when considering factors like industry standards and so on. 

The email bounce is a much more complex topic than the 10 cent crash course I provided above.  If you are interested in learning more about email bounces and how they work at a deeper level, you can read our more comprehensive blog on email bounces here

4 Ways to Reduce Email Bounce Rates

Clean Lists

Your sending practices play a large role in the amount of email that lands successfully in the recipient’s inbox on time.  ‘Sending practices’ is a broad term that covers everything from frequency, to content, to infrastructure, to lists. When it comes to email bounces, your lists are going to be a high priority.  Rule number one is to NEVER send to a purchased list full of recipients who have not opted in to your email. You need to build your list organically through opt-in forms on your website, point of sale interactions, paid search, etc.  

No matter how you do it, your list should be full of people who have willingly accepted to receive email from you or your brand. Once you have a good list and start sending, you want to immediately remove hard bounces so your sender reputation doesn’t take a hit for repeatedly sending to bad email addresses.  Of course if you work with an email service like SocketLabs, an automated suppression system will instantly add emails to a no-send list so you don’t have to do anything.  

Monitor Bounce Rates

Of course the easiest way to know that emails are bouncing in the first place is to have some sort of monitoring system set up.  If you are a SocketLabs customer, you automatically get access to our reporting dashboard which provides detailed insight into all of your email metrics like bounces and failures. 

Use Authentication

One of the first things you can do when your deliverability is suffering is to apply the necessary authentication protocols to your email (i.e. SPF and DKIM).  Authenticating your emails helps mailbox providers identify that the ‘From’ address in your email is legitimately from you the sender. The security systems and spam filters that mailbox providers use will identify that necessary authentication protocols are implemented which will help your legitimate email get to the inbox.  If you want to dive deeper into the topic of email authentication, you can download our complete guide on the topic here that will give you everything you need to know. SPF and DKIM can be found on pages 5-6.

Build Sender Reputation

I know that saying something like “build your sender reputation” is a lot like saying “become a millionaire”….easier said than done.  With that said, there are a number of definitive steps you can actually follow that will help build your sender reputation and get your important emails in the inbox.  The bad news is explaining how you can improve your sender reputation and deliverability would take about 10+ pages if done so efficiently. The good news is we have two guides that you can download for free that will teach you how to improve your email deliverability/IP reputation.  If you are an enterprise sized sender, view the Science of Hitting the Inbox Guide here.  If you are a small or medium sized sender, you can download our Email deliverability guide here.  

Starting your Journey to Lower Email Bounce Rates

No matter where you are on your email journey – an experienced email infrastructure professional sending for large corporations, or a new sender working for your small business – email deliverability is and will always be a big topic when it comes to getting the most from your email investment. SocketLabs has an endless amount of free resources you can consume at any level of experience that will help get your deliverability in tip-top shape.  

If you want to take things to the next level and have your emails come through the most reliable infrastructure in the industry with award winning customer support and expertise, SocketLabs has a plan for you,  starting with free and going all the way to enterprise. Check out our plans and pricing here.

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