An active email-marketer knows that managing your bounce rate is critical. Reducing your bounces decreases your delivery costs and increases conversions – ultimately increasing the ROI of your email campaigns.
There are two types of bounces that are important to understand in the delivery process.
A soft bounce is an email message that gets as far as the recipient’s mail server, but is bounced back undelivered before it gets to the recipient. Soft bounces can occur for the following reasons; recipient’s mailbox is full, the message is too large, the recipient’s server is down, or the recipient has abandoned the mailbox. Most providers will try to deliver the email regularly for a few days. If it is still not successful, it becomes a hard bounce.
A hard bounce is an email message that has been returned the sender and marked undeliverable. Hard bounce causes include invalid email addresses, invalid domains, or the recipient’s server has blocked your server.
Here are 12 “Quick Tips” to help manage and reduce your bounces:
- Clean Your Lists: Whether manually or via a list-hygiene service, check for incorrectly formatted addresses, invalid domains and typos.
- Consider Using An Email Change of Address (ECOA) Service: With many companies experiencing email address churn of 2.5% a month, an ECOA service could pay huge dividends.
- Confirm Email Addresses: Send an auto-reply confirmation when a user subscribes, registers or makes a purchase. If that message bounces, you can attempt to correct it right from the start. Additionally, you may want to consider requiring a second email address line (in your online forms) that confirms the correct address was entered.
- Include Subscription/Account Management Links in Your Emails: Make it easy for your customers and subscribers to update their email addresses by including a link in your emails to your Web site account/subscription management page.
- Prompt Customers to Update Information: When a customer is completing a transaction, prompt them to verify and update information – particularly their email address.
- Use Mail or Phone to Update Information: If you have postal addresses or phone numbers for customers/subscribers with bad email addresses, consider contacting them via mail (such as a postcard) or telephone.
- Understand and Monitor Spam Filters: Get to know the more common things that most spam filters block.
- Pretest Your Emails: Prior to distributing your email to your entire list, send a test to yourself and others (make sure you include all the major email services used by members of your list).
- Understand How Your Email Provider Processes Bounces: Gain a thorough understanding of how your email provider classifies and handles soft and hard bounces – and manage accordingly.
- Monitor Changes Among ISPs: After mergers, financial troubles and other announcements, many users of a particular ISP may decide to switch to a different account or ISP for their email. Consider sending an email to members of your list with the domain name in question, asking them if they would like to update their email address and other information.
When All Else Fails, Suppress or Delete Recurring Bounces: Determine an appropriate bounce suppression/deletion strategy for your email program. For example, if you distribute a monthly email or newsletter, you may want to suppress/delete accounts after three consecutive bounces.