Digital marketing help sites often say the trick to implementing effective email campaigns is to use catchy subject lines, engaging content, and clear calls to action (CTAs). What most people don’t often tell you is that no matter how beautifully crafted your marketing messages are, as long as they don’t reach intended readers, your email marketing campaigns won’t work as well as you hope.
There are various reasons why some companies fail to improve their reach despite their best efforts, foremost of which are hard bounces. In this post we’ll tackle what a hard bounce is and how it differs from a soft bounce, if there’s such a thing as an ideal bounce rate, and how businesses can improve their reach.
What Is a Hard Bounce?
Undeliverable email messages translate to bounces (soft and hard) in marketing metrics. While soft bounces typically can’t really harm your email sending reputation, hard bounces can be problematic.
Soft bounces happen when an email address is temporarily unreachable when you send a message to it. Reasons for that include mail server unavailability or its corresponding inbox is full.
Hard bounces, meanwhile, occur when the email account you’re trying to send messages to is completely unreachable. There are a few possible reasons for that, including:
- The email account’s user could’ve blocked your email address.
- The account may no longer be in use.
- The account’s address could have been temporary and been discarded shortly after the signup process it was used for was completed.
- The email address never existed, which can happen if its owner misspelled it during the signup process.
Hard bounces are avoidable, though. And the lower your hard bounce rate is, the more reputable your email domain gets. That could translate to better marketing results, as you’re less likely to end up on spam blocklists.
Is There Such a Thing as an Ideal Bounce Rate?
As with page bounce rates, there is an ideal email marketing bounce rate. A 2020 Campaign Monitor survey says the acceptable average (soft and hard bounces combined) is 0.7%. You can get a clearer picture of ideal bounce rates by industry and day of the week by consulting the table below.
Given what you just learned about hard bounces and ideal rates, how then can you improve your company’s reach? We listed three ways to do just that.
3 Ways to Improve Your Company’s Reach
Reducing your bounce rate is a primary means to widen your marketing reach, and there are several ways to go about that but we’ll focus on three here.
1. Avoid Using Spammy Wording
Internet (ISPs) and email service providers (ESPs) can include domains in blocklists based on the email subject lines and content their owners use for marketing messages alone. Avoiding spammy terms is, therefore, a must.
What you should know is that most advanced email filtering systems automatically send messages containing phrases like “as seen on,” “buy,” and “order” to their clients’ spam and junk mail folders. You can check out this exhaustive list of words and phrases to avoid using in emails for others.
It’s true, there’s no way to automatically screen for spam trigger words in emails. But you can carefully check subject lines and email content for signs of sensationalization, overpromising, and strange formatting to ensure they stand out before hitting the Send button.
2. Enable Double Opt-In
One way of knowing if email recipients would open your messages is to ensure they’re interested in your offerings. No one is likely to read even the most well-crafted marketing emails or act on them if they’re not into your brand.
If you don’t already know, the double opt-in feature that typically comes with email marketing solutions can help determine which of your subscribers really want to hear from you (get notified of sales, new product/service launches, and discounts). You can enable the double opt-in feature on your signup pages to filter users who aren’t interested out of your distribution list before you even attempt to contact them. If not contained, a growth in the number of unreachable addresses can pad your bounce rate and cause problems.
3. Use Real-Time Email Verification
Another reason why you may be suffering from a high bounce rate is that your distribution list is full of inactive and invalid email addresses. Even if it’s possible to get rid of them manually, meaning deleting them one by one after sending them a message with the read receipt function enabled, that may not be ideal for lists with thousands of email addresses.
A far faster way to do that is to use an email verification tool that tells you if an email address is indeed valid. This technology can help users answer the following questions:
- Is the email address reachable? An email verification tool with email-sending emulation and Simple Mail Transfer Protocol (SMTP) connection checking features can tell you if an address can receive messages. If you query an unreachable email address, you will see something like this:
- Does the email address have a corresponding mail server? All valid email addresses have corresponding mail servers. A valid address, when queried on an email verification tool, will show the presence of mail exchanger (MX) records.
- Is the email address disposable? You should know that many users treasure their privacy. As such, they often use temporary or disposable email addresses to keep marketing emails out of their inboxes. In some cases, disposable email addresses are discarded as soon as their owners complete signups. Sending messages to such email addresses may result in hard bounces and damage your email-sending reputation. You can use an email verification tool that automatically identifies temporary email addresses created with Mailinator, 10MinuteMail, GuerrillaMail, and 2,000 other known disposable email service providers. Such solutions will typically give out this warning:
- Does the user’s company maintain a catch-all email address? Catch-all email addresses are meant to collect all messages sent to recipients whose names may have been misspelled or no longer work for the company the domain belongs to. There are times, though, when such accounts don’t get checked often and so they fill up. The emails sent to them thus bounce. The decision to send or not to send marketing messages to users of catch-all email accounts varies from company to company, but for those who do decide to, this post can provide pointers. Email verification tools can detect organizations that don’t use catch-all email addresses, giving out a result like this:
- Is the email address’s syntax correct? Email address invalidity can also result when users don’t follow the prescribed Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) format. All email addresses should look like username@company[.]tld. An email verification tool’s built-in syntactic validation engine can help identify addresses that don’t conform to IETF standards, allowing you to avoid sending messages to them.
As you’ve seen, reducing your bounce rate is the first step toward improving your company’s reach. Maintaining an ideal bounce rate can heighten your organization’s chances of reaching more customers.