When I first started running email marketing campaigns I was shocked to find so many different terms I needed to get to grips with. Two of the terms that I didn’t have a clue about were soft bounce and hard bounce. All I knew was that if my emails weren’t making it into my recipient’s inbox, these bounce terms definitely weren’t a good sign for my campaign…
I suspect that I’m not the only email marketer that has struggled with getting my head around these kind of terms when starting out. Honestly, even today I find myself double checking my understanding of soft and hard bounce for peace of mind. Which is exactly why I have decided to write this post. Before we continue, let’s clarify what we mean by the bounce; ‘Bounce’ in the context of emails, means that an email cannot be delivered to the recipient’s inbox, for whatever reason. Hard and soft are two different types of bounces.
Now let’s take a quick look at the differences between soft bounce and hard bounces and which one you should be more concerned about.
What is ‘Soft Bounce’?
‘Soft bounce’ is a term used to describe an email that can’t be delivered to an inbox because of temporary issues. There are many different situations that can result in a soft bounce. We’ve provided a list of a few of the most common reasons:
- The recipient’s inbox may be full
- The email file may be too large
- You’re emailing a suspended account
If you receive a notification stating that you have encountered a soft bounce, don’t panic. This type of bounce doesn’t need any immediate attention as the issue is usually temporary. If possible, the email provider will continue to send the email for the next couple of days. However, you should keep an eye on the email address that you are receiving the soft bounce from. If you notice that the same email addresses keep popping up, then it’s probably time to remove them from your list.
As a guide, we say 3 soft bounces and you should remove the recipient. This helps to keep your total bounce rate under the recommended 2%. Any more than that and you may begin to see deliverability issues.
What is ‘Hard Bounce’?
‘Hard bounce’ is a term used to describe an email that can’t be delivered because of permanent issues. There are many different situations that can result in a hard bounce. We’ve provided a list of a few reasons why a hard bounce can occur:
- The email address is a fake email
- You’re emailing a deactivated account
- There is a typo in the email address
If you come across an email address that has caused a hard bounce, you should remove that address from your mailing list. The problem is permanent, so there is no point wasting your time sending emails to an address that will never be able to receive emails. Removing these contacts also helps to maintain your sender reputation. This will in turn help to prevent your emails ending up in other recipients spam or junk folders.
Soft bounce = Temporary issue. Keep an eye on them but allow them some time.
Hard bounce = Permanent issue. Remove them immediately.
Hopefully, you now see that bounce rates are not as complicated as you may have first thought.