Your Bounce Rate is the percentage of your sent emails that were not delivered to recipients. To borrow language from the direct mail universe, it’s the email equivalent of getting unopened letters back marked, ‘return to sender.’
Undelivered emails are returned or rejected for a number of reasons, like the email address doesn’t exist, or the recipient’s mailbox is full. Even worse, your email could bounce because your recipient’s email server has blacklisted you or your email provider.
The Bounce Rate can be divided into two categories: Hard Bounce for permanent issues like an unrecognized email address or domain name; Soft Bounce for temporary issues like a full mailbox or a temporarily offline email server. As you gain confidence in email marketing, this division can help you strategize how you deal with your list’s Bounce Rate. You might delete Hard Bounces outright, but keep Soft Bounces on the list for the next few campaigns in case they get resolved.
Why it’s important
Lower your Bounce Rate to ensure your emails are reaching an active audience, and to prevent your campaigns from getting blacklisted by email providers (including standalone services like Gmail and Yahoo as well as hosted services used by organizations in connection with their own domain names).
If your email list is old, it’s highly probable that many of the addresses on it are no longer any good. Practice good list hygiene to lower your Bounce Rate. Most Email Service Providers like MailChimp, Campaign Monitor, and Constant Contact have terrific tools to help you keep your lists trim.
Typos and Import Errors
It’s easy for incorrect addresses to make their way in to your campaigns. Hand written email leads from a sheet of paper at your cash wrap, or written down hastily at events and conferences, can be hard to decipher. Additionally, when uploading a file of email addresses to your ESP, be careful to follow your ESP’s file format requirements carefully. Otherwise, you could accidentally generate a campaign with an astronomical Bounce Rate.
Your ESP’s List Policies
While each email provider has a unique threshold for the Bounce Rate from any ESP, those numbers aren’t usually public knowledge. However, your ESP should maintain a rigorous Bounce Rate policy for all of its customers to stay in the good graces of those email providers.
SPAM’s Passive Aggressive Connection
While getting categorized as SPAM doesn’t directly contribute to your Bounce Rate, if enough recipients do mark your email as SPAM, their email provider will blacklist future emails. Having an ongoing relationship with your recipients can reduce the number who click SPAM for your emails.
Email File Size
Generally, it’s a good idea to keep the file size of your email as low as possible. Large files can push your recipients over their email space quota, causing emails to bounce back as undeliverable.
The Bounce Rate is a good indicator of how fresh your list is, if your email is being categorized as SPAM, and how well your email sending provider is doing.