Email Bounce Backs: Fixing Hard and Soft Email Bounces

June 6, 2019
Email bounce back

Online marketing is not only compromised of social media interaction and ads. It finds one of its fundamental pillars in email marketing. Despite living in a digital era, problems with online platforms and marketing are all but gone. One of the problems you’ll be fighting against is email bounce back. You have your list of people that are you public and you need to deliver new information to them, but a part of them might not get their respective emails.

fixing email bounce back issues

If this happens to you and want to know. What is email bouncing? How to stop it from happening? Then you have come to the right place. Follow and you will find answers for this and more.

What is email bounce back?

Email bounce back is a situation when the mails you send won’t be delivered to the intended address. This can happen by any number of reasons. Calling it bounce back is more of a euphemism for this.

Simply put, when the mail you sent is not received then your server notifies you that the mail wasn’t accepted. Or in many instances it cannot receive it. This could be caused by a number of issues.

Commonly found issues are one using Gmail and Outlook mails. This is because they both are the top providers of email addresses. However, email bounce back doesn’t discriminate and the reason is simply because the client doesn’t matter.

In the following we will help you understand how to best approach a situation where you find yourself with few or many emails bouncing.

Identifying when is an email bouncing back.

A message?

Whenever a bounce back occurs, the server sends you a message. And it usually will look like this.

email bounce back message

This message contains the cause of the problem and it also suggest how to fix it. Try the recommendations, in most cases they are helpful. Alternatively, if you know what the problem is just rectify it on your own.

Sometimes the message will tell you the following “Delivery to the following recipient failed permanently”. This could be caused because.

The email account you have tried to reach doesn’t exist.
Simply misspelling the address name.
Unnecessary spaces or any other kind of typo or formatting error.

There are two kinds of bounce back. The soft bounce and the hard bounce.

Understanding the differences between them is of outmost importance and is key to solve them. No matter what client or platform you’re using.

Hard Bounce and Soft Bounce.

A hard bounce happens when the email was rejected without a second thought. It happens when the recipients address doesn’t exist or the domains name is not available any more. Likely is just a typo in the recipient’s address. A hard bounce is often a permanent problem and will likely never be fixed.

Soft bounces are not so problematic. They are mostly caused by temporary problems with the servers. Such as the famous 502 error in Gmail, the recipient’s inbox being full or something of the like. In these cases, you will receive a mail from the server notifying you of the problem and the specific reason. Soft bounces are always temporary and in time they will solve themselves, they’re not grave.

Why is email bounce back something to be worried over?


Considering all that we’ve just learned bouncing doesn’t seem like much of a problem. They are. Keep getting bounce backs can hurt you email campaign and even affect you IP’s reputation. A low or bad reputation will affect your deliverability, so it’s best to avoid. These two factors are a measure of how your email marketing campaign can be received. You have to know how many of your mails fall into spam folders and which number in the inbox.

Almost all companies that provide email marketing campaigns conduct an assignment of reputation score to the sender. Same principle as banking credit. If you send a lot of emails that bounce back then your reputation score will fall a lot. After having a low reputation score getting it back up is really hard. Keep in mind that you marketing campaigns will be affected by this, and not in a good way.

Eventually you even get your email account suspended by your service provider. This could be caused by exceeding a threshold of the amount of unnecessary mails set by internet regulators.

Keep an eye on email bouncing back. Take them seriously and save your marketing efforts, and reputation score, from suffering. If you’re serious about this then it might be in your best interest to know why the bouncing happens.

Possible reasons.

For now, let’s settle for knowing what the main reasons are for email bounce back. Whether is a soft bounce or a hard bounce it will almost always fall within the following causes.

Non-existent email address.

One of the main reasons for a bounce back is that the email address simply doesn’t exist.

This is considered a Hard Bounce.

Likely there’s a typo in the address name, the recipient might have left the company where it was working, deactivated the account or something else. It could also be the case that someone gave you a bad address on purpose, often people do this when they want your email address but don’t want to give theirs.

Check your email list every now and then to look for typos and out dated addresses. If you can then you should use an email verification service.

Undeliverable email.

This is considered a soft bounce. It means that the receiver server is momentarily not available. This could be because a server crash or simple maintenance.

When a server overloads usually there’s a crash, even in this drastic but common scenario the problem will be swiftly dealt with. After this everything should be back to normal. However, if the recipient’s server could not be found this would be classified as a hard bounce.

If you experience this problem then you should wait a few hours and then try to send your email again. If after 72 hours you’re still having the same issue is likely the server was shut down.

A full mailbox.

Maybe the address you want to send a mail to has a mailbox filled to the top. In this case you email will fail to be delivered and you’ll get a bounce back. This is considered a soft bounce, so try again after a while, though it might depend on the recipients cleaning habits.

It could also be possible that the address is no longer in active use, if this is the case then it would be best to stop sending emails to that address in particular. Maybe try to contact the owner by a different method.

Vacation or auto-reply.

This could also be another cause of a bounce. If the intended recipient is away for vacations is likely that they won’t check their email too often. In cases like this your mails will bounce back and you’ll get a notice.

This is a bounce however, not a hard or soft bounce. Since you technically did receive a reply, an auto-reply but still. This is only an issue when you want to make sure that the information of your campaigns reaches the intended and interested public.

Blocked email.

Is also possible that the receiving server has blocked the mail. Should this be the case you will receive a notice of this. It could be the case that these addresses are from public offices, there are usually very strict rules about how to use them.

The easy and only fix is to contact the person and see if they can manage to get an exception for you.

How to decrease email bounce backs.

Since now we know of possible reasons for email bounce back, now we can focus in how to solve a bounce.

If you are in the middle of a large email marketing campaign is likely impossible to eliminate bounce back from emails. This is mostly because of the sheer number of emails addresses and the fact that is likely that you’ll be increasing your data base constantly. We do however, have to make sure we keep the bouncing to a minimum.

The good news is that this can be done, and with a certain level of ease.

But before that there are two things that you should know before moving on any further with this topic.

How to calculate the bouncing rate?
What is an acceptable rate?

Knowing this will allow you to generate a more deep and profound perspective into what accounts to a successful email marketing campaign. With the addition of lowering your bouncing rate.

How to calculate the email bounce rate?

This is really not a difficult task to do, assuming you know your way around a calculator. Your bounce rate is the percentage of bounces you get out of all your sent emails.

Divide the total number of emails sent by the total number of bounces.
Multiply that by 100 and voila!

This number represents your email bouncing rate. For example, if you sent 2000 emails and out of those 100 resulted in a bounce back. Then according to this calculation your rate will be of: 5%

Taking it step by step we have:

100/2000= 0.05

This represents that 0.05 emails bounce for every mail you send.

0.05*100= 5%

This is a 5% email bouncing rate. Easy right? But, is this rate really a good one?

What is a good and acceptable bouncing rate?

Well this was just an example and likely you’ll have a very different number. If by chance, or not, yours is similar then it might be considered a good rate.

If you subscribe to Epsilon’s email trends and benchmark guide (2010), you’ll find that depending on your industry the average bounce rate is between 2% and 15%.

However, you do want to stay below the 10% rate. So, 5% might not be so bad after all. If yours is a bit higher or lower that’s great too.

The question remains, how to get a better rate? Whether is below 5% or just shy above, the less the better.

The most obvious and simple methods will be listed here, as a brief tip, you want to always keep a clean email list. Use updated lists, so if you’re using an old one you might want to clean it. If this is the case for you then you need an email verification service. A good and reliable one can be found just one click away, and its name is VerifyBee. This platform will help you keep your email listing updated and reliable.

email bounceback analytics

Methods to help you decrease your email bounce back rate.

Unless you’re considering cheating yourself with math please do heed and practice the following methods.

Clear and acceptable sign-up form.

This should be your first step, after all you’ll need contacts to send emails to. This is where a good sign-up form comes in handy. It’s best to leave the sign-up form to be managed by a web-based platform, less human interaction means less human error in this case. After all this does involve a lot of input, and you don’t want to do it all by hand.

Make sure the form is well designed, this is key in getting real and interested people for your email list. Also, get a good captcha system to rule out bots, this alone is a great improvement.

Double opt-in

Just in case you’re still wondering, this is a must have.

It’s about sending a verification email, to make sure the address signed up is legit and the person really interest. This will greatly decrease the amount of incorrect and fake email addresses you get into your listing.

As you might have seen yourself it’s pretty straight forward and simple. You send a confirmation email including a link to confirm the subscription. When the person reads the mail and clicks the link that address will be added to your list. If in the other hand it’s a fake address then is better to have one bounce back than many.

Update information.

It’s only natural to want to use a list that is up to date, so keep one yourself. A simple way to do this is checking it regularly, you want to get rid of addresses with generic names such as “[email protected]” .

Also think about implementing a way to make sure your customers keep their own information updated. Either that or verify on regular basis that their information is still valid. This could be done by sending emails asking to update information for example. This also aids in lowering your bounce back rate.

Check your email formatting.

This is more about appearances. You basically want to make sure that your emails don’t look or read like spam mail. This is done in order to avoid spam filters that are very common in every mailing server now days.

Problem here is that spam actually does adapt and evolve, so you also want to be sure to change and adapt to new formats as time goes on. Preventing being placed in a spam folder can save many potential bounces off a single address.

There are websites and tools designed to help with this,, and These sites compare your actual mail to a database of spam formats and tell you how likely it is for your mail to be recognized as spam. Keep them in your back pocked for when you need to check your mails format.

Keep a mailing schedule.

If you want to help your email marketing campaign any way you can, the this is one way to do it. Sticking to a constant and efficient schedule will help your customers to know when to expect your mails. In time this could save you from being placed in a spam folder, and in turn end up with emails bouncing back.

This also helps your customers feel a lot more engaged in your marketing campaign. Not to mention the servers get accustomed too and therefore are more likely to deliver your mails without hiccups.

email bounce back in amrketing

By following the steps described above you are well on your way to have a good and clean email list. And with that comes a low bounce back rate for your emails. Don’t disregard having a good reputation scoring. This is often crucial for the success of a email marketing campaign.

Maybe doing all this by yourself sound tiring and like a lot of work on top of what you already have. If that’s the case then fear not. There are many sites ready to help you out with your email listing and online marketing issues with emails. Or if you’re unable to lower the bounce back rate by yourself, then this might be a good option to consider. These sites will make the process of having a successful email marketing campaign easier for you.

Email list cleaning services.

After considering the mentioned above you might have decided that you need a service for all of this. There are more methods that you can try, like hiring someone to do it all for you. Sometimes this is the simplest and best course of action to take.

What is an email list cleaning service?

This is basically a service that goes through the bulk of your emailing list and finds potential problems with them. Is more a prevention tool that a solution for every step of the process. They find likely bounce back addresses within your list and can even remove them.

They find typos, role-based addresses, non-existing ones and more. For some cases you can step in and take action yourself for other more generic cases you might want to leave the heavy lifting to them.

Directing an email marketing campaign can be am exhausting job, sometimes a job better suited for many rather than one person. Hiring a cleaning service for your email listing is one way to help the campaign. This will in time likely net you high deliverability and a low bounce back rate.

But remember most of these services are paid ones so it’s of outmost importance that you find one that suits your every need. One such as VerifyBee.


email verify

Verifying your email list is crucial to keep a clean email listing. This allows you to delete and remove out dated information. In turn this ensures higher deliverability and a lower risk of email bounce back. VerifyBeeis a reliable and easy tool to use for this.

The platform has integration with many others such as the popular MailChimp. This site will help you maintain a very good reputation score with servers and avoid the annoying problems MailChimp’s Omnivore might cause.

With some of the best prices available in the web and very reasonable offers for their service plans. This is a very good and powerful tool to help you boost your email marketing campaign.

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