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Home » Hard Bounce vs Soft Bounce in Email Marketing: How to Avoid in 2022

Hard Bounce vs Soft Bounce in Email Marketing: How to Avoid in 2022

Hard bounce vs soft bounce in email marketin
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Email marketing can be useless if you cannot send the email in the first place. That’s why you must understand email bounce and its types. When it comes to hard bounce vs soft bounce in email marketing, you may wonder these questions:

  • What’s an email bounce?
  • How many types of email bounces exist?
  • What’s the difference between a hard bounce and a soft bounce?
  • And how to avoid email bounces?

I’ll answer all these questions about the email deliverability terms. Let’s get started without further ado. 

What is Email Bounce: Why Emails Bounce Back?

Email bounce is when you cannot deliver an email to a server. The server usually lets you know the reason for the email bounce. Regardless of the reasons, you as an email marketer don’t want to get these bounces. 

Email bounce happens when your email fails to deliver to a recipient for some reason. The reasons for that can be:

  • Your recipient’s mailbox is full
  • The email address doesn’t exist.
  • Incorrect email address
  • Spam filters blocked your message 
  • The email server is down
  • DNS record isn’t correct

And the list goes on. There are several email bounces, but I’ll dig into 7 of them and then differentiate between soft and hard bounces. 

7 Types of Email Bounces

You open your email service provider, type in the address and body, and click on ‘Send.’ But you get a notification that your email isn’t delivered.

Such a phenomenon called email bounce can throw off your email marketing flow. And that’s why you try to avoid them as much as possible.

For that, you need to understand all the types of email bounces so that you never get them again.

There are two major types; hard and soft email bounces. I’ll also help you learn about them and other email bounce types. After that, you’ll know the difference between hard bounce vs soft bounce emails. Sounds great?

Let me divide email bounces into these three types:

  • Hard bounces
  • Soft bounces
  • General bounces

General bounces are the ones that are caused by the technical limitation of the server. You’ll first learn about the hard and soft bounces and then move to general bounces.

Hard Bounce (bounce_hb)

A hard bounce is when you can never deliver an email. Cleaning the addresses that give the hard bounce is the wisest thing to do. The reasons for hard email bounces are:

  • Invalid or incorrect email address: 40% of email users change their address within a year or two. Keep emailing to these addresses wastes your time.
  • Fake email address: Some people don’t want to get any email from you. So they provide you with a fake email address to get something in return from you.
  • Blocked email address: It happens when the recipient’s email server stops your server from sending an email.

How to fix hard bounces? Well, you really can’t. The best thing to do is to keep your list clean and healthy. Here are a few steps that will help you prevent hard bounces:

  • Start cleaning your lists regularly.
  • Remove invalid email addresses that bounce back
  • Segment your list so you can target a specific group 

That’s pretty much everything you can do to avoid hard bounces in email marketing.

Soft Bounce (bounce_sb)

Soft email is when you cannot deliver an email temporarily. You don’t need to worry about it because you can easily detect the issues and nullify them. 

But for that, you must understand the reasons behind a soft bounce:

  • Your recipient’s inbox is full.

What you can do: It’s temporary, due to which you can resend the email. Just try at a different time or wait for some days.

  • The recipient doesn’t exist at all.

What you can do: You may want to check with other contact details of that person if possible. And try to target the person again to get the new address.

  • The server is down.

What you can do: Wait until the server is back to work. And if you maintain your server, solve the problem immediately.

  • Email size is heavier than what the server can handle.

What you can do: Ensure your email is not too long and doesn’t have large files.

  • Auto-reply from the recipient.

What you can do: All you can do is wait for the person to open your email.

As you can see, you can easily handle soft email bounces. 

Blacklist Email Bounce

Out of 350 billion emails sent daily, 85% are considered spam. And this happens when an email server blocks your emails or marks them as spam. There may be a ton of reasons for that. 

Spam filters are automated systems that recognize spam messages and block them. These spam filters sometimes mistake your email marketing campaign for spam.

The reasons for blacklist email bounces are:

  • High bounce rates
  • Haranguing content
  • Spam complaints
  • An immediate increase in email volume or email list size

What you can do to avoid blacklist email bounces:

Let’s jump onto other email bounce types now.

Transient Bounce (bounce_tr)

As the name indicates, transient bounce is when the server is still trying to deliver your email. It’s normal, and you don’t need to worry about it. 

Even if the problem persists, it usually resolves within 24 hours.

What you can do: Ensure the recipient has received emails from other people before, and the chances are that they’ll accept your email as well. 

Address Change (bounce_ac)

It happens when a recipient has changed the email address and has sent an auto-reply with the new email address.

What you can do: Add the new email address to your database. And check if the new email address is valid using our free Email Validator. And learn about the best practices for email validation

You may want to segment your list and send a re-engagement campaign to all those who have changed their email addresses.

DNS Failure (bounce.df)

Email bounce caused by a DNS problem is called the transient bounce. The reasons may include:

  • DNS lookup failure
  • The hostname doesn’t exist

What you can do: Wait until the problem is resolved and try again. You can also use an external DNS provider if you cannot solve the problem.

Challenge/Response (bounce_cr)

These bounces happen when a recipient has installed software that asks you to complete a challenge or give a response to an automated message. If you don’t meet the challenge correctly, your email will not be delivered.

What you can do: You cannot do anything to solve the problem. The best way is to remove those email addresses from your list and try again later. Or go ahead if you can respond individually.

There are more types of email bounces as well. We have already discussed the major ones. Now let’s make the head-to-head comparison of hard bounce vs soft bounce in email marketing. 

Hard Bounce VS Soft Bounce in Email Marketing: What’s the Difference?

The difference between a hard bounce and a soft bounce is that the former is permanent while the latter is temporary.

Invalid email addresses cause hard bounces. And soft bounces are caused by temporary problems like a full mailbox, server down, or network congestion.

The bottom line is that you should always try to avoid hard bounces because they can lower your sender score and eventually get you blacklisted.

On the other hand, soft bounces are nothing to worry about as they will eventually resolve independently. You can wait for the problem to be fixed and then try again.

Now that you know all about email bounces, it’s time to put this knowledge into practice. Start by ensuring that your email list is up-to-date and accurate. Then use our free Email Verifier to check the validity of email addresses in your list.

Hard VS Soft Email Bounces: How to Avoid Them

Email marketing brings in a substantial return on your investment. But it happens when you land your emails in the inbox. For that, you must avoid all these email deliverability issues, also called email bounces.

Follow the best email marketing practices:

Use double opt-in

Double opt-in is the best method of building a valuable list. It ensures that you know exactly how many people are signing up for your email list. And thus, it helps you avoid adding invalid or non-existent email addresses to your list.

Maintain clean list

Some marketers add any email address they come across to their lists. But doing so can lead to erroneous results in the long run.

Invalid or non-existent email addresses are called bounces. And they can seriously impact your deliverability rates. So maintain your list regularly.

Process the unsubscription 

As you know, adding anyone to your list is called email spamming. And it has the potential to get you blacklisted by ISPs. Always process the requests for unsubscription as soon as they come in.

Use the best email marketing software.

Using a professional email marketing tool helps you avoid unwanted bounces and improve your deliverability.

This is because automation allows for better segmentation, which means you can send more personalized emails to your list members.

Use an external DNS provider.

Using an external DNS can also help you improve your email deliverability. It makes sure that ISPs do not block your IPs due to any problems on their end. You don’t need to worry if you have chosen the top email marketing services.

Test and verify your email content

Before hitting the send button, test your email content for any errors. And verify all the email addresses in your list. Following these simple tips can help you avoid hard and soft bounces in your email marketing campaigns.

I hope you love this guide to email bounce, its types, and the comparison of hard bounces vs soft bounces in email marketing. Have any questions? Drop them down in the comments below.


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