Soft vs. Hard Bounces

Keeping an eye on bounce rates is as important as tracking all the other email metrics. Email bounces are a common occurrence for email marketers. But what exactly is a bounce?

Email bounces occur when an email service provider (ESP) cannot deliver an email to your subscribers' mailbox. The reason for a bounced email can vary; it is not always one reason and can be a combination of many.

These bounces have a negative impact on deliverability and the success of future email marketing campaigns. Therefore, it is crucial to identify what causes them and fix them to avoid negative effects on your business.

Understanding the two types of bounce

Depending on the reason, a bounce can either be categorized as a hard bounce or a soft bounce. The difference between a soft bounce and a hard bounce is simple, but it can make a huge difference in how you approach your email campaigns.

Soft bounce

Soft bounces occur when there’s a temporary issue preventing your emails from getting delivered. The good news is that these temporary issues can still be fixed, and your email can still reach your subscribers' inboxes.

Soft bounces can happen for a variety of reasons:

  1. The recipient's mailbox is full or inactive.
  2. The email is too large for the server to handle.
  3. The recipient's mailbox provider experiences temporary problems or high traffic.
  4. The email content looks suspicious.
  5. The email message does not meet the recipient server’s policies and requirements (DMARC, anti-spam, anti-virus).
  6. You’ve had too many spam or reputation-related complaints.
  7. Amplified continues to attempt to send these soft bounce messages up to seven times over the next 72 hours until the message is delivered. If the address bounces 7 consecutive times, it is considered a hard bounce and will be unsubscribed.

Hard bounce

Hard bounces happen when there is a permanent issue preventing your email from getting delivered, which means retrying won’t change the outcome.

There are a few common reasons why an email may hard bounce, including:

  1. The domain or email address does not exist.
  2. The recipient’s email server has completely blocked delivery.
  3. To protect your sender's reputation, Amplified immediately and automatically unsubscribes these contacts and excludes them from all your future campaigns.

There is no way to prevent bounce emails entirely, but you can limit the number of hard and soft bounces you experience. It is crucial to monitor bounces and address them quickly in order to spot problems early. The bounce details are available in your email campaign report, so you can take the appropriate steps based on them.