What’s the first email metric on your mind once you’ve launched a campaign? Open rates are a good indicator of engagement, and a high click-through rate (CTR) can make an email marketer’s day.
Both rely on leads actually receiving your emails, though – which you can’t take for granted. Behind open rates and CTR is email bounce back rate. It’s not the most exciting metric to report on but bounce rates can mean the difference between your emails reaching inboxes – or not.
What is email bounce back rate?
In email marketing, bounce rate is the percentage of inboxes that your email did not reach.
Bounces are failed deliveries. They fall into two categories:
- Hard bounces occur when the contact’s email address has expired or was incorrect. You cannot reach them unless you get updated information.
- Soft bounces can occur for several reasons. Commonly, delivery fails because of a full inbox or a technical error. These contacts may still receive emails in future.
Repeatedly contacting disengaged addresses tells email service providers (ESPs) that your emails aren’t getting engagement and could be unwanted.
It damages what’s known as your ‘sender reputation’. A poor sender reputation won’t result in failed delivery, but it will mean that future emails end up in spam folders. It’s a common issue: ESPs categorise over 45 percent of emails as spam.
How to reduce your email bounce back rate
By some counts, email marketing has a 36x return on investment for every pound spent. You can’t afford to undermine what is likely your most cost-effective lead nurturing channel.
If bounce rates creep above your industry’s benchmarks, take the following actions to preserve your sender reputation.
Review your contact database
Bounce rates ultimately come down to the health of your contact list.
Start by creating a ‘suppression list’ for all future sends. Add all contacts that have hard bounced to this list to ensure you won’t email them again. Many email platforms will automatically suppress hard bounces, but a suppression list provides a secondary safeguard.
Consider adding repeated soft bounces to this list, as well. [CampaignMonitor](https://www.campaignmonitor.com/blog/email-marketing/making-sense-email-bounce-rates/#:~:text=The benchmark for bounces is,you will want to resolve.), for example, classify five soft bounces as a hard bounce.
Source contacts responsibly
You can avoid a high bounce rate by gathering addresses from a reputable source, and leads with genuine interest. If you don’t have the capacity to do so yourself, ensure third-party providers verify contact validity.
Use double opt-in where possible
‘Double opt-in’ requires new contacts to confirm their address when subscribing to your emails. If they don’t, they won’t receive your campaigns.
It reduces bounce rates by verifying each contact’s address (and interest). Campaigns with double opt-in see a 72.2 percent increase in open rate, and a 114 percent increase in CTR.
Test, improve and segment your emails
Addressing email quality and spam reports can indirectly mitigate the impact of a high bounce rate. High engagement means a healthy sender reputation:
- Remove (or limit) words that trigger spam filters from email copy and subject lines.
- Ensure all emails include an ‘unsubscribe’ link.
- Segment your contact list based on goals and pain points. Tailored content will increase engagement.
- A/B test emails to identify the copy, buttons and structure that maximise open rates and CTR.
- Ask for (and apply) feedback from your contacts.
Reduce email bounce back, increase engagement
Strategies like double opt-in and suppression lists will mean that you send your campaigns to fewer recipients. In the world of email marketing, quality is more important than quantity.
Provide targeted content to a well-curated contact list, and your email bounce back rate will remain low. Engagement, on the other hand, will only increase. The open rates and CTR that result in closed leads are a by-product of a healthy contact database.