Hard bounce in email marketing

What is a Hard Bounce in Email Marketing?

Hard bounce in email marketing

Whenever a hard bounce occurs, it means an email cannot be delivered for a permanent reason. When a soft bounce occurs, the issue is temporary.

As soon as you begin email marketing, you’ll realize that you have to learn a new language. The terminology of email marketing is unique for every business, and each phrase means something different.

It is common to hear the term bounced email when talking about email marketing. We’ll be able to get a better understanding of this issue by reading this article and seeing what you can do to fix it.

What is a bounced email?

A bounced email indicates it wasn’t delivered to its intended recipient. This can be due to a temporary or permanent rejection by the mail server. Your email will be bounced if this happens, and you’ll receive an automatic response notifying you of the failed delivery.

Bounced emails can be caused by several factors. These reasons can include:

  • An incorrect email address
  • Server outages
  • A recipient’s inbox being full

You may also experience bounced emails if you are experiencing problems at your end, as the sender.

In certain circumstances, this may mean:

  • You have been flagged as spam too many times
  • You have a restrictive DMARC (Domain-based Message Authentication, Reporting & Conformance) record that prevents your email from passing DMARC verification

What is hard bounce vs. soft bounce?

The bounce rate of your email marketing list is a reliable indicator of its health. Emails might bounce for a variety of reasons, but these are usually classified as soft or hard bounces.

Hard Bounce

When an email cannot be delivered for permanent reasons, it is called a hard bounce. There is usually a problem with the recipient’s address being invalid or out of date.

If the domain does not exist, or the subscriber typed the address incorrectly, it may have been an error. Send reputation and deliverability rates can be negatively affected by hard bounces.

Soft bounce

According to Big Commerce, Soft bounces occur when a temporary problem prevents an email from being delivered. There are various reasons why soft bounces occur, including a full inbox or a server issue.

You can retry the email a few more times since a soft bounce is temporary. Attempting to deliver the email again will result in a hard bounce, so remove that subscriber from your list.

Does Bounce rate affect email marketing?

Email Marketing

Your email bounce rate affects how well your emails are delivered overall. Senders whose reputation is consistently high can see their reputation drastically diminish. Even for recipients who open and engage with your emails, your emails are more likely to be sent to the spam folder if your reputation is poor.

When this happens, you’ll start to notice a decline in your engagement levels, including lower open rates, lower click-through rates, and ultimately, a lower number of sales.

As a result, you’ll want to keep your email list as clean as possible, filling it with non-bouncing email addresses. This ensures that the majority of your recipients receive your emails in a place where they can see them, rather than in their spam folder.

So, how much of a bounce rate is acceptable? Depending on your industry, the average bounce rate ranges from two to five percent. If your bounce rate exceeds 5%, you should clean up your list or figure out why your emails aren’t being sent.

How do you handle a hard bounce?

The most difficult aspect of bounce management is that a bounce usually indicates a problem that hinders email communication with consumers. So, what can you do if you can’t contact your customer to let them know there’s a problem with their email address?

Protect your delivery reputation

If you receive a hard bounce or a spam complaint/notification, stop sending emails to such addresses right away. A high number of bounced emails or a clear disregard for spam concerns can tarnish your delivery reputation. When it comes to handling and responding to bounces, there’s only one rule to follow: send no more than is absolutely necessary.

Notify your support team

The simplest way to handle bounces is to set up a system that tells your support team whenever a delivery issue arises. Even if you automate some bounce handling, you’ll almost certainly still have bounces you can’t handle automatically. Regardless of how complex your system grows, support will always play a part in handling your circumstances.

Display a prominent notification to the user when they log in

If your application receives a lot of hard bounces, display a visible notification. Assume a new user registers but misspells their email address. Their welcome email bounces while they’re looking about and checking out your app, and you’re notified. You can now show a notification to the user right away so they can remedy their error.

Log an event or add a note to the user’s account for future reference

Write a note about what happened in the user’s account and process the request. The recipient might not even be aware that their emails bounced, and they may try to figure out why they didn’t receive the email they expected.

Let users reactivate delivery

It’s not uncommon for hard bounces to occur because of unusual and temporary circumstances. Let’s imagine a new employee’s email address wasn’t correctly configured. It may bounce, but that bounce serves as a motivator for the user to make sure the issue is rectified. You should be notified that it’s okay to try again if the email address works.

Use other forms of communication

If your app uses SMS or requires users to create and confirm numerous email addresses, you may need to use these techniques to notify them of issues.

Notify other users on the account

The simplest method is to notify the appropriate administrators that the user’s email is bouncing.


Anyone can send an email, but the way you handle and recover from difficulties, like most software efforts, makes a huge difference in the deliverability of your emails. Bounces should be handled with care to safeguard your domain’s reputation and to guarantee that customers have fewer problems. You don’t have to put in place a robust bounce handling solution right once, but you should keep an eye on it and continually build up and improve your bounce handling skills over time.

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