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What is bounce rate?

Achieving success in email marketing means reaching the right people with the right messages at the right time and developing fruitful customer-brand relationships. 

To do that effectively, you must understand how your campaigns are performing and, crucially, when they are underperforming so that appropriate adjustments can be made.

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What is email bounce rate? Types of bounces: soft bounce vs. hard bounce What is a good/bad bounce rate? How to maintain a good bounce rate Acquire your lists through permission-based means
Diligently maintain your lists
Fine-tune your marketing content
Conclusion

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In measuring the performance of email marketing campaigns, there are a few key metrics, both positive and negative, that all marketers ought to keep track of. Bounce rate is one of these, and falls into the latter category.

What is email bounce rate?

To understand the bounce rate concept, it is first necessary to define what a bounce is in an email marketing context.

The term “bounce” refers to an instance where an email message is unable to reach the mailbox of its intended recipient. 

This means that the email in question has been rejected by an inbound server for some reason and has consequently been returned to its sender.

The bounce rate of an email denotes the number of times that that specific message has been bounced by mail servers. It is expressed as a percentage of the total number of recipients for the message.

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Types of bounces: soft bounce vs. hard bounce

Two distinct types of bounces can occur: a soft bounce and a hard bounce. Each of these two types of bounces have different causes and different results.

A soft bounce occurs as a result of a temporary problem when trying to deliver an email. 

Many possible issues could cause a soft bounce, but the reason is often due to something relatively innocuous, such as the inbound server being down, the recipient’s mailbox being full, or a message simply being too large.

Conversely, a hard bounce results from a permanent issue. Typically, this means that the recipient email address provided is invalid, or that the recipient’s server has blocked incoming messages from the sender.

Of the two types, the hard bounce is the more detrimental to future deliverability, and as such it necessitates immediate attention. 

On the other hand, soft bounces are less detrimental in the immediate sense, but they will be converted into hard bounces if they occur repeatedly. For this reason, neither type of bounce should be taken lightly.

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What is a good/bad bounce rate?

It is difficult to define what is a good or bad average bounce rate, as bounce rates vary from one industry to the next. It is advisable to do some research on the specific industry in which your brand operates.

However, as a general rule of thumb, most would consider 2% to be the threshold that separates good from bad. Rates of less than 2% are considered acceptable, though there is almost always room for improvement. However, if your emails exceed that number, intervention is advised.

Your Email Service Provider (ESP) should help you monitor your bounce rate to keep it at an acceptable level and prevent any damage to your sender reputation.

How to maintain a good bounce rate

There is no quick and simple way to achieve a low bounce rate. Instead, it’s necessary to take a holistic approach to email marketing and adhere to best practices in all aspects of your operations. That means that you should do the following:

1. Acquire your lists through permission-based means

Growing your mailing lists via a permission-based method is advisable, and a double opt-in system is the safest way to go.

Since a double opt-in requires users to complete a two-step subscription process, you can rest assured that all of the email addresses added to your mailing list have been validated before you attempt to perform a send-out. This goes a long way toward avoiding hard bounces.

In addition, since this sign-up process requires users to give unequivocal consent, you have a greater assurance of their engagement with your brand. This means that spam reports are far less likely, which lowers the chances of a hard bounce even further.

2. Diligently maintain your lists

Acquiring and growing your mailing lists through permission-based means is great, but it’s also necessary to maintain them. 

Email addresses often fall into disuse, and this means that even a pristine list will eventually succumb to some degree of decay.

To prevent old, inactive email addresses from leading you into spam traps and causing deliverability problems, you should take the time to perform email list cleaning and list hygiene on a regular basis. It is recommended to do this at least once every six months.

3. Fine-tune your marketing content

Low bounce rates are the result of a good sender reputation, and that stems from relevant, high-quality content. 

Refining and quality-controlling your marketing copy helps to ensure that your subscribers stay interested, reducing the risk of spam reports. Moreover, it enables you to eliminate any grammar or syntax errors that could get your messages tangled up in spam filters.

Conclusion

The bounce rate of an email can be viewed as a kind of failure rate by which to gauge its success. When experiencing an undesirable bounce rate, it is important to halt send-outs and take relevant actions to prevent reputational damage. 

However, prevention is always better than the cure,, so to sustain low bounce rates, it is best to take a holistic approach by combining permission-based practices with high-quality copy.

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