The Ultimate Guide to Bounce Email

Bounce emails are a fact of life for anyone operating an email list. Unfortunately, bounce emails can also indicate bigger problems and lead to email deliverability issues. Understanding how to identify and deal with bounce emails properly is key to maintaining a healthy email list.

What is a bounce email?

A bounce email occurs when an email is unable to be delivered to its intended recipient. This may happen for a variety of reasons, like an invalid email address, full inbox, or spam filter blocking the message.

When an email cannot be delivered, the recipient’s email server returns a “bounce” message to the sender, notifying them that the delivery failed.

Types of bounce emails

There are two main types of bounce emails:

  • Hard bounces: The email address is permanently invalid and delivery will never be possible. This often indicates an incorrectly typed or deactivated email.
  • Soft bounces: The email delivery failed temporarily due to a transient issue that may be fixable. Examples include full inbox or ISP outage. The address itself is still valid.

Why bounce emails happen

Bounce emails occur for a variety of reasons:

  • Invalid email address: The address was typed incorrectly or no longer exists. This triggers a hard bounce.
  • Inactive email address: The recipient closed or deactivated their account. Also a hard bounce.
  • Full inbox: The recipient’s inbox is full. This results in a soft bounce that may clear up once space frees up.
  • ISP issues: An ISP outage or temporary server error causes a soft bounce.
  • Spam filters: Overly aggressive spam filters may reject legitimate emails, causing a soft bounce.
  • Malformed emails: Errors in the email code itself can cause bounce issues.

Identifying bounce emails

When an email bounces, the recipient’s email server typically sends an automated bounce notification email to the sender. These bounce emails:

  • Have a subject line indicating it’s a bounce notification, like “Delivery Status Notification (Failure)”
  • Contain details of the bounce error and a human-readable description of the cause
  • Often include the original email as an attachment
  • Should contain the bounced email address so you can identify problem recipients

You’ll need to monitor your inbox for these bounce emails and pay attention to the details and frequencies to identify patterns and troubleshoot issues.

Preventing future bounce emails

To minimize future bounce issues for specific recipients:

  • Double check their email address for typos and correct it.
  • Mark their address as “undeliverable” in your mailing list software so you don’t re-send to the invalid address.
  • If the bounce was temporary, re-send the email after a few days or weeks to see if it now delivers.
  • Update their email preferences to a lower frequency if their inbox is likely to remain full.
  • Improve your overall email deliverability through techniques like optimizing your IP reputation, domain, and send volume.

Hopefully this guide has provided valuable information for dealing with bounce emails! The key takeaways are to monitor bounce emails closely, identify issue types, correct invalid addresses, and make improvements to minimize future issues. With proper handling of bounce emails, you can maintain a high-quality mailing list.

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