Have you ever sent an email and gotten a message back saying your email has bounced? Maybe you work with a mass email programs such as HubSpot or ActiveCampaign and you come across hard and soft bounce rates? So you might be wondering what are Hard and Soft bounces?

A “bounce” happens when an email is rejected by a subscriber’s email server. There are different types of bounces that depend on the reason the email bounced.

What are Hard and Soft bounces?

Hard Bounces

Hard bounces are more serious when using a mass email program as this means the information in your database is incorrect. These services are very strict in the integrity of the data you provide and will penalise you heavily for having a bounce rate of over 1%. What exactly does that mean? It means if you were to upload a database of 100 people and more than 2 people hard bounce then your email sender status will be negatively affected. A high hard bounce rate could result in you being blacklisted and stop you sending out bulk emails.

So what exactly contributes to making something “hard bounce”? Most of the time it is an incorrect email address, sometimes the domain no longer exists or the email server is blocking delivery. This is why it is important that you ensure you take the time to put in the correct email address.

Soft Bounces

Soft bounces are a bit different as the email address is correct, but is unable to be delivered because the mailbox could be full, or the recipients email server is offline or if the email message is too large. So because of this, ESP’s, such as MailChimp and Marketing Automation software like HubSpot or ActiveCampaign, are more lenient and provide an acceptable threshold of 5%. Still not much room for error I’m sure you’ll agree. If you keep resending to the same people and the result remains the same it will then turn into a hard bounce.

Spam limits

It might also be worth noting that most platforms have an acceptable spam threshold of 0.1%, giving you no room for manoeuvre. Send out a email blast to 100 people and more than 1 person complains and you are already in  trouble. Obviously this is why you want to be sending constant communication to your database, to ensure that you don’t have those once off email sends that might not resonate with your audience and a few of them mark it as spam.

Again this is where putting quality information in is crucial. Don’t put people on a mailing list unless they gave you permission to send emails to them. The days of spamming people are quickly coming to an end.

So what can you do?

When it comes to sending out mail blasts you have to do everything in your power to ensure that your database is filled with quality information. People are too quick to download their contact lists, upload and send. Often there will be contacts with no email addresses or emails that are clearly incorrect. Email addresses that contain generic words like Admin and Info should also be avoided when possible. Taking the time to go through your database properly can save you in the long run.

Remember garbage in garbage out, as well as getting hurt with acceptable email thresholds.