What is Bounce Rate in Email Marketing? Types, Reasons, and Effective Strategies

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Never expected a bounce rate that high!

Well, email bounces are a total blow for any marketer. 

In this article, you will understand what is bounce rate in email marketing, the types, reasons, and top strategies to avoid it. 

Let’s dig in.

Bounce Rate in Email Marketing

The percentage of emails that are undelivered or returned to the sender is called the Bounce Rate in Email Marketing. 

For any email marketing campaign to succeed, you need a high open rate. It is only when your audience views your message you stand a chance to convert them.

But what if your message is not received, but instead bounced back?

Such a marketing attempt in itself is futile.

So, it is important to maintain a healthy bounce rate. 

Why Should You Check Email Bounce Rates?

Now that you know what bounce rate in email marketing means, let’s explore why it matters.

Constant monitoring and analysis of email bounce rates are crucial for every business for the following reasons:

  • Deliverability: If your emails are not properly delivered, Internet Service Providers (ISPs) will notice it and will flag, report it as spam, or even worse blocklist your domain. A higher bounce rate will eventually result in a low reputation.
  • Engagement: A strategy that never reaches its target audience will significantly affect your marketing. You will lose customer engagement directly affecting conversions.
  • Value of Your List: Bounce rate is an indicator of the number of people who are interested in you. With a healthy bounce rate, you will always have the right people on your list who genuinely want your product or service.

Types of Email Bounces

There are primarily two types of email bounces based on the impact it generates. Let’s examine them closely.

Soft Bounces

Soft bounces are temporary problems that don’t affect your reputation much. The deliverability issue will possibly be due to spam filters or an issue with the server. You can reattempt delivery in this case.

Hard Bounces

Hard Bounces happen with low-quality lists. When the recipient’s email address is invalid or dormant, or if it doesn’t exist, you will face a hard bounce. This can tarnish your reputation and is harmful to your email marketing strategy.

Healthy Bounce Rate

Attaining a negligible or zero bounce rate is too ideal. You can consider a bounce rate of less than 2% to be healthy. But if it is increasing, you will have to sit down and analyze it. 

Additionally, the average bounce rate varies across industries and your target audience. 

How to Calculate Bounce Rate in Email Marketing?

The bounce rate in email marketing is the number of bounced emails divided by the total number of emails sent and then multiplied by 100 to express the result as a percentage.

Here’s the formula:

Bounce Rate (%) = (Number of Bounced Emails / Total Number of Emails Sent) * 100

For example, if you send out an email campaign to 1,000 subscribers and receive 25 bounce notifications, your bounce rate would be:

Bounce Rate (%) = (25 Bounced Emails / 1,000 Total Emails Sent) * 100 = 2.5%

Reasons Why Email Bounce Rates Increase

To lower the bounce rate in email marketing, you have to learn the common causes. 

Here are the top 10 reasons why email bounce rates increase:

Email List Issues

Invalid, outdated, and irrelevant email lists result in hard bounces. Errors may occur while building your list which include misspelled addresses. 

Also, inactive accounts and domains contribute to hard bounces.

No Verification

If you don’t proceed with any verification practice, your list is likely to have inaccurate addresses and people who don’t really want your product or service.

Low-Quality Lists

Opting for purchased lists often ends up in hard bounces. It is always better to create your list organically. Otherwise, there is no point in targeting an audience that never was the right target in the first place.

Low Sender Reputation

As mentioned earlier, ISPs track your activities and if you have a history of spamming or sending out irrelevant emails, your reputation will go down eventually affecting your bounce rates. 

No Authentication

There are a lot of protocols to protect the data and privacy of email recipients. If you fail to abide by email authentication protocols like SPF, DKIM, and BIMI, the service providers may not be able to authenticate you, leading to email bounces.

Inconsistent Sending Volume

You have to be consistent with your sending practices to avoid raising suspicions. Senders who tend to deliver emails after a long dormant phase will be recognized as suspicious by ISPs. This will affect your email bounce rate negatively.

Large File Attachments

There are size limitations for each server. So when you send out large file attachments, it automatically triggers bounce notifications.

A Spammy Feeling

Spam filters are popular these days to avoid unsolicited emails. Trigger words, lots of exclamation points, and irrelevant subject lines altogether mark your content as spammy and will bounce back.

Poor Design and Coding

Using lengthy complex codes and excessive images results in bounces as most email platforms might not be able to render such enormous data.

Recipient’s Server Issues

Problems can arise from the end of recipients as well. When their mailbox is overflowing with emails or if their server has any issues, your email will bounce back until it is resolved.

Strategies To Minimize Bounce Rate in Email Marketing

So, the reasons contributing to a higher bounce rate in email marketing are evident. 

Now comes the part where you fix these issues.

Below are some brilliant strategies you can use to minimize your bounce rate:

1. Verify Your Lists

Always analyze and verify your lists frequently to remove invalid and outdated addresses. Never send emails to stale lists. It is best to opt for a tool or service to do this job.

2. Use Double Opt-In

Ensure your subscribers genuinely want your emails through a double opt-in process. After signing up send out a confirmation email. This way you ensure the email address is right.

3. Segmentation & Personalization

Personalize emails according to audience interests. Based on demographics, interests, and engagement, segment your email list to improve targeting and reduce the chance of irrelevant email bounces.

4. Maintain Your Lists

Remove bounced addresses regularly to maintain the quality of your list. Mandatorily clean your list after thorough monitoring.

5. Avoid Using Free or Personal Emails

Sending from free or personal email addresses may result in deliverability issues. Use a professional email address to enhance deliverability. 

Also, don’t stuff your email with excessive content and large files.

6. Follow Authentication Protocols

Stick to authentication protocols like Sender Policy Framework (SPF), DomainKeys Identified Mail (DKIM), and Brand Indicators for Message Identification (BIMI) to verify your sending domain and increase trust with ISPs.

7. IP Reputation Monitoring

Check your IP reputation to know where you stand. If your reputation is at risk, analyze the issue and fix it to avoid email bounces.

8. Analyze Bounce Rates

For every email you send out, track the bounce rates using a bounce rate calculator or using the mentioned formula. 

9. Send Consistently

It is best to maintain consistency with sending out emails as it builds a positive reputation with ISPs. This will establish legitimacy.

10. Don’t Use Low-Quality Lists

Build your list organically to get the right audience. Using a purchased list in itself will tag you as a spammer. 

11. Test Your Emails 

Test your emails by sending them to dummy emails or use a proper tool to fix issues even before reaching your target audience.

Winding Up!

Tackling email bounces is tricky. But if you have the proper strategies and tools, you can easily surpass those hurdles and create successful email marketing campaigns. 

Bounce rate in email marketing is a significant factor affecting your digital marketing strategies. Maintaining a healthy bounce rate is thus crucial. 

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Founder of Haris&co | HACA | + posts

He is Kerala's favourite digital marketer with a strength of 100+ team members and 100+ clients from Asia and the middle east.

Cross-functional experience in Paid Advertising, Content Marketing, CRO, Social media Marketing, Automation & E-commerce.

Also Featured in TEDx, The New Indian Express , Malayala Manorama, Startup Story Media, Josh talks, and more.

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