Hard bounce vs Soft Bounce: What is the difference?

hard bounce versus soft bounce

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We have chatbots on social media dominating the marketing industry now but, even with these rapidly evolving marketing trends, email marketing is still considered as a timeless tool for success. Did you know that 93% of marketers in the B2B marketing depend on email for their content distribution goals?

Modern email marketing has adapted to change in technology but there are still a few things which always remain to be a challenge. For marketers who understand the significance of email marketing, there is one term that appears like a nightmare- ‘bounce rate’. If you look at your email marketing software analytics reports, this is one area that any expert would advise you to focus on.

Why does the bounce rate matter so much?

What does “Bounce” mean? When you send out an email to a bunch of your subscribers, if one or more receiver’s email server doesn’t accept your email, it’s called a bounced email. There could be several factors that can contribute to this. Based on these factors, it is categorized as a hard bounce and soft bounce.

Knowing the difference between these two bounces can help you address them at the earliest. A high bounce rate would mar your reputation with the email provider. With a high bounce rate, your emails are likely to be directed to the spam folder and not to the inbox. In the long run, this can lead to your email address being blacklisted in different locations and, eventually, the suspension of your email account. This can lead to a huge loss on the money you invest in email marketing.

Hard Bounce – What is it?

This is the type of bounce where the email gets rejected permanently. Being a permanent issue, this one needs immediate attention.

Fake email address is the main reason why a hard bounce happens. Many subscribers furnish fake email address while subscribing to your mailing list. When this happens and when your email campaign sends out emails in bulk, the fake email addresses cause the emails to bounce. Whenever you notice a hard bounce, it is a good practice to remove the fake email addresses from your mailing list immediately. This will help bring down the bounce rate and therefore keep up your email reputation.

Apart from fake email addresses, this could also be due to misspelled email id. Every little character counts when your subscribers type in the email address in your lead generation campaign. When you receive a bounce due to wrongly entered email id, you would have to take immediate steps and replace it with the valid email id.

If your email content violates any of the server policies of the recipient, then the email can bounce. This sometimes happens with corporate email accounts that have stringent email policies. There are also tight filters for spam, and here too, the quality of the content within the email has a role to play. These are situations where you can address the hard bounce by modifying the content of the email campaign accordingly.

Sometimes email addresses also become invalid when they are not in use anymore. This can happen with corporate email ids where the employee has left the organization, and the email id is not valid any longer. Whatever be the trigger, hard bounce needs to be resolved quickly.

Soft Bounce – Explained

Unlike hard bounce, the soft bounce is not a permanent problem. This could be due to some temporary issues with the receiver’s server. There are chances that the problem gets resolved in the future, and therefore you might not have to stop sending emails to the email address causing the soft bounce.

When the receiver’s mailbox is full and cannot receive emails anymore, a soft bounce can happen. Once the receiver clears his mailbox, your future emails will get delivered.

Technical server problems tend to happen now and then. Server timeout issues can also trigger a bounce. These can initiate a bounce but can, however, be solved when your mail server sends out the email again. Large-sized attachments can also lead to rejections by the receiver’s mailbox. In such cases, you can try resending the email with a compressed file size.

Most of the soft bounce cases do not require you to remove the email address from your mail campaigns. If there is some urgent communication to be relayed, you can use an alternate email id or schedule resending of the email. Sending out a test email id can help you narrow down the cause of the bounce. If a simple test email gets rejected, the problem is likely to be at the receiver’s end, and if it doesn’t bounce, the issue could be with the content. When the latter happens, you can modify the content and easily continue to send your emails.

Ways to reduce the bounce rate

Time your emails to stay in touch with your subscribers on your mailing list. This helps you quickly be notified of email addresses that are invalid. Closely scrutinize your mailing reports from your email marketing platforms to study the bounce rate. Filter out the hard bounce instances and rapidly remove all the ids triggering them. With this, you can avoid the impact of bounce on your email marketing campaigns.

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