What is a soft bounce?
A soft bounce in email marketing refers to a temporary delivery issue when sending an email. It happens when the email reaches the recipient’s mail server but is bounced back before reaching the intended inbox. Unlike a hard bounce, which indicates a permanent problem, a soft bounce suggests a temporary issue.
What are the most common causes of soft bounces?
Here are some common causes of soft bounces in email marketing:
- Full Mailbox: The recipient’s email inbox is full and cannot accept new messages.
- Server Issues: The recipient’s email server is temporarily down or experiencing issues.
- Large Email Size: The sent email is too large for the recipient’s server to handle.
- Temporary Delivery Delays: The email server temporarily delays delivery, possibly due to issues like server overload.
- Email Message Content: Sometimes, specific content or formatting in the email can trigger spam filters or other email server restrictions, leading to a soft bounce.
- Autoresponder/Vacation Replies: Automated replies, like out-of-office notifications, can also cause soft bounces.
What can you do to prevent soft bounces?
There are a few things you can do to prevent soft bounces from happening in your email marketing campaigns. One is to make sure your list is regularly updated and contains only subscribers who have voluntarily opted to receive your messages. You can use special tools made to clean your list for doing this efficiently. Checkout some of those tools here.
You should also segment your list by demographics and interests so that you can send more relevant and targeted content to each segmented group.
Test your email content and subject lines before sending them out to ensure they are as effective as they can be. You can also use an email marketing service that tracks bounces and provides feedback on why messages were bounced, so you can make changes to improve deliverability in the future.
How can you tell if an email has bounced?
Determining whether an email has bounced usually involves a few key indicators:
- Bounce Notification Email: After a bounce occurs, most email servers send a notification email back to the sender. This notification typically explains that the email wasn’t delivered and often includes a reason for the bounce.
- Email Service Provider (ESP) Reports: If you’re using an Email Service Provider for your marketing campaigns, the ESP will track bounces and provide reports. These reports will list which emails bounced and whether they were soft or hard bounces.
- Analyzing Email Headers: For more technical users, analyzing the headers of the returned email can provide details about why the email bounced. This is more complex and requires understanding of email protocols.
- Automated Alerts: Some advanced email systems and ESPs offer the feature to set up automated alerts that notify you when an email bounces.
- Checking the Email Log: If you have access to the email server, you can check the email log files. These logs provide detailed information about email delivery attempts, including any bounces.
What should you do if you receive a soft bounce?
If you receive a soft bounce, the best thing to do is to try resending the email to the same email address, but at a different time. If that doesn’t work, then you can try sending the email to a different email address if you have that with you. If that still doesn’t work, then you can try unsubscribing the email address from your list.
What are the consequences of having too many soft bounces?
Having too many soft bounces can have several negative consequences for your email marketing efforts:
- Damaged Sender Reputation: Repeated soft bounces can harm your sender reputation with Internet Service Providers (ISPs). ISPs may begin to regard your emails as unreliable, potentially affecting your overall email deliverability.
- Reduced Email Deliverability: A high rate of soft bounces can lead ISPs to filter or block your emails more frequently. This means even your legitimate emails might struggle to reach the inboxes of your intended recipients.
- Inaccurate Analytics: Soft bounces can skew your email campaign analytics. If you’re not reaching a significant portion of your audience due to soft bounces, your engagement metrics (like open and click-through rates) may not accurately reflect the effectiveness of your campaigns.
- Resource Wastage: Continuously sending emails to addresses that result in soft bounces consumes resources without any return on investment. This includes the time and effort spent crafting emails that don’t reach their audience.
- List Hygiene Issues: A high number of soft bounces can indicate poor email list hygiene. If not addressed, it can lead to more serious issues like hard bounces and spam complaints.
- Potential for Email Throttling: Some email service providers may start to throttle your emails, meaning they limit the number of emails you can send within a certain timeframe, if they notice a high rate of bounces.