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You want your business in the stratosphere, not your bounce rates. Sky-high bounce rate? Here’s what you need to know. We’ll bring you back down to earth.

Bounce is a fun word, isn’t it? Not when it comes to email campaigns, it isn’t.

In fact, a high bounce rate might be even worse than a bounced check when it comes to your business (kidding, sort of).

What’s a high bounce rate?

Unlike a lot of email jargon, bounce rate is a pretty easy term to parse. In essence, it means that your emails are being rejected by the recipient mail server – for one of several reasons. Perhaps the email address doesn’t exist, is misspelled, or is out of commission. Perhaps the mail server is rejecting your mail because of a strict DMARC policy or quarantining protocols.

A soft bounce, as its name implies, is a bounce lite. It can indicate a temporary issue like a full recipient inbox or a temporary network issue or out-of-date MX records.

A hard bounce is more permanent. This means that you can retry until the cows come home and you’ll get the same result. The email doesn’t exist, isn’t receiving mail, has invalid records, or has blocked email from your domain.

Keep your reputation rocking, not bouncing

As we’ve mentioned time and again, reputation is everything when it comes to email. And the higher your bounce rate the less likely you are to end up in the primary inbox.

As a rule of thumb, you should be aiming for a bounce rate below 3%. Most email service providers (ESPs) will penalize your sender reputation if your bounce rate is over 5% — harming your ability to send campaigns.

Bounce rates are fundamental to keeping your reputation in good standing. Indeed, they are one of five main components of a sturdy rep, along with:

  1. No appearances on blacklists
  2. Consistent volume
  3. Staying away from spam traps like they’re garlic and you’re a vampire
  4. Properly formatted emails with high-quality content and no dodgy or broken links

Keep those factors in mind and you won’t be voted off the island, or, er, booted out of the primary folder.

If you’re feeling paranoid we suggest these resources for checking common blacklists:

Mx Toolbox

Sender Score

Spam Haus

Why would I have a high bounce rate?

While there are certainly times that bounces are out of your control, what it usually indicates is a problem with your mailing list.

Yup, the key culprit when it comes to a high bounce rate is a poorly managed or out-of-date mailing list. We’re not pointing fingers here, but if a quarter of your mailing list consists of fake email addresses or flagrant misspellings (yohoo anyone?), then it is time to put your head down and clear that sucker up!

Send help!

Bounce rate giving you hives? We’ve got the cure. Actually, we’ve got ten.

1: Clean your mailing list!

Just like that tired cliché that you need eight glasses of water a day, it’s repeated because it’s true. Miracle cures only go so far. You could change your email text to comic sans and make it hot pink for good measure, and it wouldn’t do a thing. Simple, principle, meticulous attention to detail is worth a pound of glitter and sales copy. Go through your mailing list with a fine-tooth comb. Delete any egregiously misspelled emails or clearly fake email addresses.

2: Pay attention to suppressions

At SMTP2GO we have a groovy feature that we encourage all of our users to keep an eye on. It’s called Suppressions. Whenever your emails hard bounce we automatically put that address on a Suppressions list for seven days. That means that within the 7-day window, your emails will not be sent to those recipients. This buys you time to monitor your hard bounces and assess why they’re bouncing, all while keeping your bounce rate stable.

3: Two words, rockstars: double opt-in.

Three words? We may not have gotten honors in English, but we sure know email. We recommend ensuring that all new subscribers from your landing page, marketing campaigns, in-person collection sites, and web forms verify their email. It’s not enough for them to enter haha@haha.xy to get your free eBook or to sign up for your newsletter. Push your subscribers to verify their email addresses through a simple transactional email link (double opt-in). An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.

4: Know the nitty gritty

Consider learning about SPF, DKIM, and DMARC policies. These freaky acronyms are anything but. It pays to take a quick half-hour to familiarize yourself with these methods and protocols.

5: Verify your domain

When you verify your domain in our system, that means we handle SPF and DKIM on your behalf, and it helps you get the best delivery rates possible. When you are verified in our domain that allows us to relay emails on your behalf, and builds trust with recipient mail servers.

6: Avoid free domains

Gmail, Hotmail, and the like are amazing tools for daily life and correspondence, but when it comes to cultivating a marketing strategy, we recommend avoiding free domains at all costs. They are the most likely to end up caught in the crossfires of spam filters, and they lack the professionalism of a unique, custom domain pertinent to your business.

7: Segment your email list

We’re all a bit self-centered at the end of the day – and we like emails that feel personal. Like they’re just for us. You can segment your subscribers using various methodologies. How often they have been on your radar, how responsive they are, how frequently they open your emails, etc.

It is a great idea to do a bit of leg work during the intake process where you ask the new subscriber what kind of correspondence they want from you, and how frequently.

We recommend sending email batches to your segmented lists in an organized, scheduled manner. Space out your batches over a few hours, or even days.

8: Make sure your emails don’t read “SPAM”

Spam is just another four-letter word! Some commentators suggest that 53% of global email traffic consists of spam mail. That’s not exactly good company to be in! Stay on the right side of the tracks by avoiding these danger words and phrases.

9: A/B testing

Think of yourself as a chemist in a lab: testing out new combos, seeing what works, hoping nothing blows up. Test the different components of your email: the subject, the CTA, the copy, the teasers, the length – test it all!

This is particularly useful when you are creating a new campaign or trialing a new format. Test engagement, open rates, and sales metrics and analyze the information to better guide your future email performance.

10: Use a captcha sign-up form

This is an effective, simple way to avoid collecting nonsensical bot sign-ups. Nothing is more disheartening than feeling like you’ve been building up momentum and gaining new subscribers only to realize the majority of them are bots.

Hate math? We’ll calculate your bounce rate for you!

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