How Email Bounce Rate affects Email Deliverability (and What You Can Do About It)

Bounced emails can have a direct and negative impact on your overall sender reputation and ability to deliver emails into your recipient’s inbox. Learning what email bounce rate is and how you can reduce this metric is imperative to getting the best results for your marketing efforts.

Updated: February 3, 2022
How Email Bounce Rate affects Email Deliverability (and What You Can Do About It)

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When it comes to email marketing, bounced emails are by far one of the most frustrating elements. 

When an email bounces, it means that the intended recipient never received the email and consumed the material you wanted them to.

The good news is that there are multiple steps you can take to improve this metric and your overall email marketing campaign.

But, first, let’s learn about the different email bounces, how to calculate your email bounce rate, the ideal email bounce rate, and what causes emails to bounce.

    What is Email Bounce Rate?

    The email bounce rate refers to the percentage of emails that your business has sent and failed to reach the recipient’s inbox (spam folder too) and are instead bounced back to you, referred to as undeliverable.

    Now, there are two different types of bounces: soft bounce and hard bounce. 

    Although each returned email will have an impact on your bounce rate, it is important to understand the difference between the two types of bounces.

    Soft Bounce

    A soft bounce refers to an email that was unable to be delivered as a result of potentially temporary issues. A couple of examples would be an email that was too large or a full inbox.

    If it is indeed a soft bounce, one or more attempts will be made to deliver the email via your server with the hope that it will make it to the inbox that time around.

    Hard Bounce

    A hard bounce refers to an email that could not be delivered as a result of potentially permanent issues.

    For instance, the email address may no longer exist, the email domain may no longer be available, or the email address consists of a typo.

    In these instances, the email will never be delivered, even if a re-attempt is made. Each returned email, regardless of the type, has a potential impact on your bounce rate.

    How to Calculate Email Bounce Rate

    Many people are curious as to how they can calculate their bounce rate or what goes into the bounce rate calculation.

    The formula for calculating email bounce rate is as follows:

    (Number of bounces / Number of delivered emails) x 100

    As an example, let’s say that you send out 2,500 emails and 50 of them bounce. Your calculation would be (50 / 2,500) x 100, which would provide you with an email bounce rate of 2%.

    Is There an Ideal Email Bounce Rate?

    Ultimately, the lower you can get that email bounce rate, the better off you are going to be. 

    This is because a low email bounce rate means that more of your emails are going where they need to.

    Ideally, you should try to stick to an email bounce rate of 2% or lower. If you are within this threshold, then you are doing well. 

    However, if your email bounce rate is higher than 2%, you need to sit down and reevaluate your campaign and focus on measures that can reduce your bounce rate.

    It is important to note that your sender reputation can be penalized by email service providers if your bounce rate is higher than five percent, which can impact your overall ability to send email campaigns. 

    This is because your emails may end up being diverted to spam folders or not even delivered.

    What Causes Email Bounce Rates?

    Previously touched on, there are numerous reasons why an email may bounce. 

    In all honesty, it can be a bit difficult sometimes to determine exactly why your email didn’t reach the intended recipient.

    However, here are a few reasons your emails may bounce, negatively impacting your email bounce rates:

    • The email account of the intended recipient has been closed voluntarily or due to inactivity.
    • The recipient doesn’t have access to said email address any longer.
    • The recipient’s email box is full and cannot accept any more incoming emails.
    • The recipient has placed you (your email address) on their “blocked” list.
    • The email server is down or under construction.

    Because there are so many different reasons for an email to bounce and the fact that it is difficult to pinpoint the exact cause, it is best to simply examine your email bounce rate as a whole and develop a plan to improve it.

    How to Improve and Reduce This Metric

    There are many different ways in which you can reduce your email bounce rate. Here are a few of them.

    #1: Update Your Email List Regularly

    Among the most common reasons for an email to bounce and be returned to you is due to the fact that the subscriber doesn’t have access to that particular email account any longer. 

    This can be avoided by updating your email list on a regular basis.

    Don’t be alarmed; updating your email list does not mean you need to build a new one from scratch. 

    Instead, you simply need to focus on removing inactive subscribers and users who don’t open your emails.

    In doing so, your email subscriber list will remain more active and healthier overall. It will also allow you to focus more on sending content to those who are truly interested in your brand.

    #2: Use Double Opt-Ins

    With the implementation of double opt-ins for your new subscribers, no individual will be added to your email list until they have received the confirmation email and clicked on the link within it to verify their email address and subscription to your list.

    In the end, this helps to eliminate the possibility of fake or typo-ridden email addresses being added to your list, which means the chance of a bounce is significantly reduced. 

    It also ensures that you only have those on your list that want to be there and receive your content, reducing your emails being marked as spam and unsubscribe actions.

    #3: Avoid Spammy Emails

    The last thing you want to do is send out spammy emails that are only likely to increase your unsubscribes and spam folder receipts.

    It is said that 53% of emails sent globally are spam. While it is true that your emails probably don’t classify as spam, there are certain identifiers that email service providers use to identify spam. 

    Unfortunately, if you are not familiar with these, your emails could end up falling prey.

    To help decrease the risk of your emails winding up in the spam folder, avoid using any kind of broken images or certain verbiage that causes a red flag.

    Some words and phrases to avoid include:

    • Make money
    • Big bucks
    • Free offer
    • Cash bonus
    • No catch
    • Act now
    • $$$

    While this is not an inclusive list, you probably get the picture of what you should avoid.

    #4: Send Consistently

    One of the most common reasons that emails wind up in the spam folder or blocked is due to the fact that the recipient fails to recognize the sender of the email.

    Think about it. If you haven’t seen an email out to your subscribers in the last six months or so, they’re highly unlikely to recognize you any longer or still be interested in what you have to offer.

    With that being said, it is imperative that you send emails out to your subscriber list on a consistent basis. 

    Develop a regular email calendar that consists of how frequently you will send emails, which will ensure that your recipients and their email servers are expecting your email.

    #5: Use A/B Test Emails

    No two emails are created the same, nor will they perform the exact same. You may find that some emails will offer better results than some of your other emails.

    Because of this, you should perform A/B testing to determine which subject lines, email copy, CTA buttons, etc. are most impactful with your subscribers.

    The process of A/B testing consists of creating two separate versions of an email with one main difference between the two. 

    This will allow you to see which one of the two performs best and whether it can bring your bounce rate down.

    This testing will offer you insight into the areas of your emails that you need to put more focus on and which areas are performing exceedingly well.

    Some specific elements you can test include:

    • The length of email subject lines
    • Call-to-action buttons/text
    • Order of words
    • Email content
    • Visual content (photos, infographics, etc.)

    Wrap Up

    The email bounce rate tends to be overlooked, but it is an important metric since it can affect your email deliverability.

    It goes without saying that some emails will bounce, but it is all about keeping your email bounce rate low and ensuring your subscriber list is healthy. 

    This is what will help to increase the success of your email marketing campaigns.

    And if you want to know more about creating strong and solid email marketing campaigns, check out the interactive experience we have prepared for you!


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