How to Get the Email Bounce Rate Under Control

Email bounce rate

You invest a significant amount of time and effort into crafting email campaigns, but as soon as you hit send, they briefly interact with the recipient’s email server and then return to haunt you.

So frustrating, right? 

Especially when you discover that 77% of marketers are successfully achieving high email engagement rates. This blows your mind, and you start wondering what you’re doing wrong and why you’re falling behind.

The good news is there’s a solution to your problem. To do that, you need to thoroughly understand the email bounce rate, work on analyzing your email marketing metrics and KPIs, and consistently refine your email list in a timely manner. 

The quickest and most effective way to achieve this is by employing an efficient, versatile, and reliable email service provider (ESP).

Campaign Refinery can expertly accomplish that for you. We’ll talk about it in detail.  

But first, let’s delve into why emails bounce in the first place and what the necessary steps are to reduce your email marketing bounce rate.

What is Email Bounce Rate? 

Well, it’s something you won’t wish to go high. 

What happens is when you send an email and instead of landing in the recipient’s inbox, it returns to you due to some error. This occurrence is called an email bounce because the email has bounced back to the sender (you).

It’s a common issue in email marketing. With 347.3 billion emails sent every day, 15.8% of them never reach their intended destination. Some end up in the spam folder, while others return to the sender.

This can significantly harm a business’s email marketing efforts, and if not addressed promptly, it can hinder the growth of the business. 

To ward it off, businesses often track the email bounce rate, which is the percentage of the emails that are tossed back to senders by the recipient’s email server. 

This helps companies discover how many customers they are able to reach and how many they are failing to deliver to.

Businesses consistently analyze the email bounce rate metric and make efforts to enhance it.

Some businesses, particularly those in industries like legal, tend to overlook minor variations when their bounce rate hovers around 15.69%, as it aligns with their industry standards. However, retail marketers tend to react more strongly to this rate, considering it to be relatively high within their industry.

Depending on the average bounce rate of their industry, marketers take measures to improve it. No matter how high their email bounce rate is, they remain committed to the channel and work diligently to reduce it. This dedication stems from their awareness of the substantial ROI that email marketing can yield, thereby augmenting their profits.

To streamline the optimization of email campaign bounce rates, professional email marketers have categorized bounced emails into different groups.

Types of Bounces 

Understanding the types of bounced emails is crucial for businesses to uncover the reasons behind their occurrence.

Marketers can then analyze these causes and implement the necessary measures to prevent them from bouncing.

There are essentially two primary types of email bounces:

  1. Hard Bounce: This type of bounced email occurs when the emails you’ve sent either can’t find the recipients’ email addresses or are directly rejected by the recipients’ mail servers. In both cases, there’s little you can do. These are permanent errors that are extremely challenging and almost impossible to resolve by the sender.
  2. Soft Bounce: In this case, your emails reach the recipients’ email addresses, but they are returned to you due to temporary errors in their email servers or in your emails themselves. These issues can usually be rectified and sometimes even resolved on their own.

Both hard and soft bounces occur due to their own distinct reasons, which you should be aware of in order to identify the types and initiate the improvement process.

Causes of Hard Bounce:

  • The email address you’re trying to reach doesn’t exist;
  • The receiver’s domain name has expired;
  • The Mail Delivery Agent (MDA) has been blocked, preventing the recipient from receiving emails from anyone.

Causes of Soft Bounce:

  • The receiver’s email server is temporarily down or dysfunctional;
  • The recipient has exceeded their email storage limit and can’t receive more emails;
  • The email you’re trying to send exceeds the email size limit set by the receiver’s ESP;
  • Your emails are being blocked due to a poor sender reputation.

Once you are familiar with the types of email bounces and why they occur, you can calculate the email bounce rate unerringly. Let’s now see how to do that.

How to Calculate Email Bounce Rate

You first need to determine the exact number of emails that didn’t land in the receivers’ inboxes and instead bounced back to you. Don’t be indolent and make assumptions.

You must diligently track, maintain, and analyze accurate records of your email campaign metrics to obtain the actual email bounce number.

Once you have a system in place to track email metrics, you can calculate the bounce rate of your email campaign using the following three steps.

  1. Note down the exact number of bounced emails,
  2. Divide that number by the exact number of emails sent,
  3. Multiply the result of the division by 100 to obtain the percentage.

This percentage will represent your precise email bounce rate.

Let’s say you send a total of 100 emails in a month, and 10 of them bounce; the formula would look like this:

Number of emails bounced / Number of emails sent x 100 = email bounce rate.

10 /100 x 100 =  10% 

Now, use this formula to determine your precise rate.

But what if you consider ignoring the bounce rate and taking no action to reduce it? In that case, what will happen to your business? Let’s find out. 

How High Email Bounce Rate Jeopardizes Business

It operates like a malignant force. When preventive measures are not taken promptly to address the rising email bounce rate, it gradually undermines the entire marketing campaign, leading to stagnation in business growth followed by a significant decline.

The following points will provide you with a glimpse of how detrimental a high email bounce rate can be for your business:

  • It squanders both time and resources in attempts to reach clients who will never respond;
  • You’ll incur significant marketing costs without yielding any results, particularly if you’ve employed an ESP with flat-rate pricing;
  • You will always be at risk of having your emails marked as spam, which will eventually harm your business’s reputation;
  • You may inadvertently contact individuals who have no interest in receiving your emails, which could lead them to mark you as spam, potentially blacklisting you and affecting your communication with other customers.

So, before you learn how to control your bounce rate, it’s important to understand why it happens in the first place.

5 Email Marketing Blunders That Lead to High Email Bounce Rates

Reduce bounce rate illustration guy pulling a lever to lower a huge boxing glove

Marketers frequently explore different strategies to expand their customer base, and at times, inexperienced marketers implement methods they believe will attract more clients. However, these pyrrhic victories backfire in the long run.

Here are five significant factors responsible for email bounces: 

  1. Never Asking for Permission: Deceiving people into sharing their email addresses and then commencing sending them emails.
  2. Hiding the Unsubscribe Option: This makes it extremely challenging for subscribers to opt out and modify their permission settings.
  3. Using Unverified Domains: Neglecting efforts to improve the sender’s reputation, resulting in their emails being flagged as spam by email authentication protocols like SPF, DKIM, and DMARC.
  4. Sending Unrelated Emails: Inundating subscribers with messages that have no relevance causes recipients to categorize these messages as spam.
  5. Sending Emails from Unprofessional and Dubious Domains: Utilizing suspicious or freebie domains to dispatch sales and marketing messages, which inevitably fosters distrust among recipients.

While it may not be possible to reduce your email bounce rate to 0%, avoiding these errors can make most of your email bounce issues disappear into thin air.

Now, the question is, what bounce rate should marketers target that would make them feel their email campaign is performing effectively?

Is There Even Any Good Bounce Rate for Emails? 

Well, you could say that. 

However, you can’t simply pick a number from any industry and assume that achieving that specific bounce rate will signify that your email marketing campaign is performing at its peak.  It doesn’t work that way.

There is no one-size-fits-all solution. Every industry has a different average bounce rate, and these numbers vary significantly from one industry to another. 

For example, the manufacturing industry typically maintains an average bounce rate of 14.83%, whereas dining & food services boast a lower rate of 9.26%. These figures represent the average bounce rates for THEIR respective industries.

Now, you need to determine the average bounce rate for your industry and consider setting that number as your threshold. However, always aim to reduce it further.

A lower email bounce rate reflects the efficiency of your email marketing campaign, signifying that your emails are successfully reaching your target audience.

Now, let’s get your hands on the strategies for getting those bounce rates down. 

4 Tips to Reduce Email Bounce Rate

No matter what you do, there will always be some emails that bounce. All we can do is strive to bring the bounce rate as low as possible.

These four tips will certainly assist you in achieving that:

  1. Double Opt-in Method: Make sure the recipients have opted in to receive emails from you by asking them for permission. Twice.
  2. Valuable Content: Always deliver useful and relatable content to your subscribers to which they feel connected;
  3. Authentication: Make sure to authenticate your domain using SPF, DKIM, and DMARC protocols. If these protocols don’t recognize your server, they may flag your emails as threats and place them in the spam folder;
  4. Clean Email List: You should refine your email list periodically and segment recipients based on their preferences. This will enable you to send them personalized emails which always have higher chances of making a receiver respond. 

After years of experience, experimentation, and analysis, we have discovered that maintaining a clean email list is one of the crucial factors in preserving sender reputation and minimizing bounce rates.

That’s precisely why Campaign Refinery has designed and integrated a built-in list-cleaning tool within the platform.

Our automated list-cleaning tool efficiently handles both hard and soft bounces, ensuring your emails successfully reach your target audience’s inboxes. Additionally, it identifies and eliminates inactive subscribers. We achieve these results consistently for every client through our advanced deliverability technology, which has significantly improved deliverability and open rates for our clients. 

This will effectively mitigate most of the challenges associated with bounce rates; then you can tackle the common issues with ease. 

Here are the solutions to common problems you might encounter when trying to reduce the bounce rate of your emails:

Problem ❌Solution ✅
Low open rateUpdate your list
Email address not foundRemove the address immediately
Recipient’s server is down Try sending again later
Oversize emailKeep the email body text concise
Landing in spamImprove sender reputation
Solutions to common problems regarding hard and soft bounces

One additional tip we’d like to share is to send emails on Tuesdays. Research has shown that most email users are more likely to read marketing emails on this day. Also, it’s essential not to overwhelm them with emails every day; sending once or twice a week is sufficient.

Now that you’ve learned everything from calculating the email bounce rate to the steps you should take to achieve a better bounce rate, it’s time to put all that knowledge into action.

It’s a lot to handle, right? But what if we tell you that you can automate most of this?

Why Campaign Refinery is the Most Effective ESP for Reducing Email Bounce Rate 

Campaign Refinery is a premium email marketing software specifically designed to serve businesses intending to send millions of emails to their subscribers every month.

Our expert team provides comprehensive assistance in authenticating clients’ domains, resulting in a significant improvement in their deliverability rates.

Our clients have experienced an average 37% increase in their open rates shortly after selecting Campaign Refinery as their email service partner.

Leaning on decades of experience, our founder, Travis Ketchum, dedicated years to creating the best email marketing software available, but he also loves to share knowledge. We would like to offer you The Inbox Formula, a guide he wrote packed with nifty techniques we use daily to dramatically increase our clients’ open and click rates by as much as 6x. 

Learn how you can get your deliverability where you need it to be using The Inbox Formula

Campaign Refinery offers custom solutions to businesses who want to make their email marketing soar. Check out our pricing and apply to explore our services and become an exclusive member of our community! 

And feel free to share how our resources assisted you in reducing your email bounce rate! 

Written by Nikhil Gupta

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