The right ways to reduce email bounce rates

Among the most frequent challenges nowadays faced by marketers is reducing email bounce rates. The problem withholds the possibility of seriously affecting ROIs if it goes unchecked. Marketers hence try and make sure that bounce rates stay within an acceptable range.

This article focuses on the right ways to keep a check over bounce rates. But before we start, let us try and understand the meaning and the different types of email bounces.

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Bounced emails

The emails that are not delivered to receivers’ inboxes and are sent back to the senders with a return message are bounced emails. The reason why emails bounce is that a subscriber’s email server rejects them.

Effect of email bounce rate over a marketing campaign

Numerous reasons make it important for a marketer to give due attention to bounced email rates. Here’s why one should attempt to ensure that bounced emails stay within safe limits:

1. Bounced emails may reduce overall delivery rates

2. They influence a marketer’s sender reputation before ISPs

3. ROIs for email marketing are affected

4. A marketer could be labelled a spammer

5. Your ESP could penalize you or decline from carrying your emails altogether

6. When email bounces are not attended for an elongated time, they may lead to some legal issues such as the US CAN-SPAM Act.

Types of email bounces:

Email bounces are primarily of two kinds:

  1. Hard Bounce
  2. Soft Bounce

Hard Bounce

Hard bounce pertains to emails that bounce when email ids are incorrect or currently nonexistent. ESP’s efforts are of no relevance. If the email id to which an email is being sent does not exist, the email cannot be sent. These addresses are permanently unreachable.

Alternately, if you come to realize that there are too many hard bounces over your email list, it may be possible that the emails are bouncing back from recipients’ spam filters.

A few of the frequent underlying causes that result in a hard bounce include the recipient’s server blocking incoming emails. Similarly, emails hard bounce in case the email id or domain is incorrect, or if the id ceases to exist.

Soft bounce

Emails soft bounce in cases such as the recipient’s server is down or the mailbox is full. In such cases, the ESP characteristically keeps attempting to deliver emails but gives up following around 5 attempts.

A hard bounce is worse than a soft bounce. But soft bounces also render an effect over delivery rates.

A few of the reasons that result in a soft bounce include the recipient’s email server being offline, the mailbox exceeding its capacity or an email being larger in size than what is permitted by the concerned email server.

Ways to reduce email bounce rates

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We now have a basic understanding of hard email bounces and soft email bounces. We can now bring our focus over ways that ensure that email bounce rates stay as low as possible.

By following the steps given below, a marketer can check the email bounce rates of an email marketing campaign he sends out. This enhances the deliverability rates of the lists as well.

1. Double opt-ins are a must

The very first step towards minimizing the bounce rates of emails initiates even before an email is sent out. This is dependent upon the ways one appends the email addresses to one’s email list. The recipient should agree to keep receiving your newsletter. This is characteristically done by clicking over a link that the receiver sees when he opens the email.

The one who types in his email id for receiving your newsletters should be sent the first email. This will serve two main purposes:

o The marketer gets a chance to check if the email id was typed incorrectly.

o This also ensures that it is the same person, who keyed down the email address and who is reading the emails.

2. Use a clean list to get started with

In all likelihood, a tool or an API has cleaned your database already. You have also double-opted in. So there is no need to worry.

Some worries remain. What happens if someone joined your database after you initiated the double opt-in? Similarly, some email ids may be no longer valid currently.

Estimates are variable. Nevertheless, if we consider the case of B2B emails, 23% of emails are expected to die yearly.

Therefore, it is only with a clean email list that one should initiate his marketing campaign. In this regard, one should consider availing of the services of companies that provide email list verification services. While their services are accurate and reliable, they are reasonably priced as well.

3. Start small and accurate, and prime your IP for success

This point finds it easy to escape the attention of most marketers. When your IP establishes a reputation for being reliable and good, ISP filters are not going to doubt its authenticity. But how does one create such a reputation?

A fine way to go ahead with it is to initiate your email marketing campaigns in such a manner that you first send out emails in small batches. They should include the recipients that are in the loop beyond a doubt. This ensures that the initial recipients do not mark your emails as spam.

ISP filters will make a note of your emails not bouncing and not being marked as spam. When open rates are higher, ISP filters will build trust within you.

When the same story is repeated for larger batches of emails, ISP filters will build more trust within you.

4. Authenticate your emails

Numerous ESPs including AOL, Microsoft, and Google use authentication of a specific kind when they check incoming emails. When incoming emails do not pass the authentication test, they will end up in the spam folder in all likelihood.

You want to avoid this from happening to the emails that you send out. To ensure that this does not happen, authenticate your emails.

One should go for at least two kinds of authentications, SPF and DKIM.

SPF (Sender Policy Framework) is primarily a DNS text entry. SPF will highlight the IPs and servers where emails can be safely sent, with regard to a certain domain. So SPF helps a domain owner insert a record or a file. This particular entry is then verified again by the recipient’s server.

Through this mechanism, receiving email servers verify an incoming email from a particular domain. They verify that the email comes from a host that is authorized by the domain’s administrators.

DKIM (Domain Keys Identified Mail) is then a different mechanism. This verifies that from the time of leaving the sender’s server, an email has not been altered. A DNS entry or some other relevant information is implanted by DKIM, inside an email. This embedded entry is difficult to counterfeit.

By using this embedded entry, the recipient server verifies that an email message is all good.

When the two authentications, SPF and DKIM are used in unison, they make the authentication procedure stronger. A marketer’s email campaign correspondingly comes by as authentic and professional.

Then, DMARC (Domain-based Message Authentication, Reporting, and Conformance) is also there. This fits in well within the authentication process for a recipient’s email server.

In the event of incoming mails failing the SPF and DKIM tests, DMARC will report to the domain-owner who is registered with the DMARC records. It conveys that the authentication tests are unsuccessful.

5. When you fall out of favour, still keep tracking

This activity is conducted in the back-end in entirety. Time and again, you’ll keep checking if DNSBL has blacklisted your email provider or yourself.

Numerous agencies, such as Spamhaus maintain blacklists and spam databases. They not just track spammers diligently, but also add in domains and IPs (servers) of suspected spammers.

These databases, however, will not contact you upon marking you as a spammer. It is up to you to keep track and stay updated, in case you are blacklisted for any reason. This is when your recipient server uses a particular DNSBL.

6. Your email shouldn’t appear as spam

Email servers are incessantly on a lookout for any signs of spam. This lets them ensure the best possible experience for the end-user. The email recipients, in turn, stay protected against the maximum number of spammers.

It may take nothing more than a choice of single phrases for the recipient’s server to flag your email as spam. Just as an instance, numerous experts recommend that marketers stay wary of trigger words. Such words are the kinds that render an influence over an email’s authenticity.

Let us suppose that you conduct a Google search about ways of writing an excellent email subject line. It becomes important to remember terms such as No Investment and Online Degree need to be safeguarded against. They shouldn’t be used in Subject Lines. There are similarly some other phases as well which one should stay wary of.

Spammers themselves shrewdly try to find ways around recipients’ mail servers. Servers, in turn, match pace with spammers and attempt to stay a step ahead. This implies that something which was safe yesterday may not be safe at all today.

In such circumstances, marketers should stay alert at all times. They should figure out the aspects that servers consider as unhealthy. They can then ensure that their emails have no faults that aren’t meant to be there.

When you keep the email marketing best practices and tips mentioned in this article in mind, there shouldn’t be any matters to worry about. But it is recommendable to stay alert.