8 Methods To Help You Lower Your Email Bounce Rate

Last Updated: October 20, 2022

It’s unrealistic to expect a 0% bounce rate every time you are running an email campaign. Regardless of all your efforts in lowering bounce rates, a few emails will never get delivered. That’s because some of the reasons behind bouncing emails are almost impossible to avoid.

For example, a subscriber could leave their current company. That means their company email address will probably get shut down. It might take time for you to notice that (if you ever do), but until then, the emails sent to that address will keep on bouncing.

Therefore, you should expect a few bounces when doing email marketing campaigns. Most marketers agree that an email bounce rate of around 2% is expected.

However, if that figure goes beyond 2-3%, then something is not okay. The worst part? If you don’t resolve the issue promptly, your email deliverability will suffer, putting your entire campaign at risk.

You’ll learn the eight techniques savvy email marketers use to lower email bounce rates from this article. But let’s start with the definitions.

What is the email bounce rate?

The email bounce rate represents the percentage of emails that fail to deliver after sending X number of emails for marketing. For example, if you sent 1,000 emails and 10 of the emails bounced back, the bounce rate will be 1%, i.e., 10/1000 X 100%.

Emails can bounce for various reasons. These include:

  • The email address does not exist. That means either the email has a typo or it’s entirely made up.
  • The email address has been deleted. It could be because the email was inactive for a long time.
  • The receiving email server is offline or under construction
  • The recipient’s inbox is full
  • The domain does not exist
  • The recipient has blocked your email address
  • Your email body is too big

The reason behind an email bounce determines the type of email bounce. A soft email bounce is usually temporary. It happens when the recipient’s inbox is full, or the email server is offline.

Your email service provider (ESP) will try to resend the email several times. These emails end up getting delivered in most cases.

A hard bounce, on the other hand, is a permanent failure. It can be due to an invalid/nonexistent recipient email address. Hard-bounced emails will never reach the recipient’s inbox. These are the bounces you need to pay special attention to.

8 ways to reduce email bounce rates

When too many of your emails bounce, email service providers can respond by pushing all your emails to the spam folder. Worse still, some ISPs can suspend or block your account for spammy behaviour. 

Here are eight practical ways to lower your email bounce rate:

  1. Verify your email domain
  2. Get permission from potential subscribers
  3. Do not buy email lists
  4. Be consistent in sending emails
  5. Avoid sending emails that look like spam
  6. Let your subscribers decide the content they want
  7. Clean up your email list
  8. Always use a company-brand email address

1. Verify your email domain

Verifying your email domain helps your emails to pass security checks of your recipient’s email servers.

Email servers conduct various security checks that scrutinize emails before they are delivered, flagged, or blocked. For starters, they check to ensure the email domain is legit and not a spammer pretending to be someone else.

Most servers will also scrutinize the email to ensure the message has not been altered on the way. All this is done to prevent spamming, spoofing, and fraud.

To ensure your emails pass the security checks and get delivered, you must authenticate your email domain.

You can do that through DomainKeys Identified Mails (DKIM), Sender Policy Framework (SPF), or Domain-based Message Authentication, Reporting, and Conformance (DMARC).

These services generate digital signatures to confirm an email is coming from a legitimate sender and the message is unaltered. 

DKIM, for example, generates a signature for the header and email body. Inbound email servers acquire a cryptography TXT record key from DNS records and decrypt the signature. If the signature matches a newly generated version, your email passes the authentication test.

Look up the email domain authentication process from your email service provider.

2. Get permission from potential subscribers

Using permission-based sign-up forms is one of the easiest yet effective methods of reducing email bounce rates and managing your email list’s quality.

The simple technique ensures everyone entering your email list is interested in receiving your emails. As a result, they will provide legitimate email addresses. More importantly, they won’t flag your emails as spam or block your address. 

Double opt-in is one of the best ways to build an email list of subscribers that want your content.

The idea is simple; once a potential subscriber opts into your email list, send them a confirmation email. Then, ask the subscriber to open the email and click the CTA to confirm their email address.

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Now, you should know that some users will not take the extra verification step. A 2015 case study reported that about 20% of potential subscribers did not confirm their email addresses. Therefore, your subscriber list might not grow as rapidly as it would if you had a simple one-step opt-in process. 

On the brighter side, sending confirmation emails ensures users enter valid email addresses.

Plus, anyone going through the extra trouble of confirming their email can pass as a promising lead. They’ll probably engage with your emails moving forward. That means a higher open- and click-through rate for you.

3. Do not buy email lists

Buying an email list hurts your campaigns more than you think. For one, buying an email is illegal in some regions. GDPR requires businesses to acquire consent from customers before contacting them

Therefore, purchasing email addresses and contacting potential customers without their consent could be a breach of the GDPR laws. That leaves you exposed to various legal implications.

Secondly, it’s hard to engage a client who knows nothing about your business.

Building a connection with subscribers to win their trust is one of the critical pillars of successful email marketing. Buying a prospect’s email address and contacting them without their consent doesn’t help you with that.

At best, the subscribers won’t engage with your emails. At worst, they’ll report your account as spam. Your emails will, therefore, end up in the spam folder. Or, you could get your account suspended. 

Some marketing email service providers also prohibit the use of rented or bought email lists.

The risks of buying an email list outweigh the pros. You are better off developing an effective strategy that will help you build your subscribers list organically.

You can use lead magnets like webinars, ebooks, and checklists to build your list rapidly, for example. That’s one of the tactics used by OptimizeSmart:

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You could also build unique landing pages for your newsletter opt-in. 

4. Be consistent in sending emails

Being consistent in sending emails keeps your brand in subscribers’ minds. They’ll be less likely to forget your business or mark your emails as spam.

Consistency is also vital in boosting the email engagement rate. In addition to reducing bounce rate, increased engagements will bring you closer to achieving your campaign’s goals.

Therefore, create a regular schedule for your emails. Although there’s no one-size-fits-all hack on how often you should send emails, most B2B and B2C marketers send emails 2-3 times per month maximum.

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You can test different schedules and see which one works best with your audience.

5. Avoid sending emails that look like spam

Passing the DKIM, SPF, and DMARC tests does not guarantee that your emails will reach recipients’ inboxes.

Email servers have additional filters to detect spam emails. You must, hence, write quality emails and avoid any spammy words that could raise red flags.

Avoid the following words and phrases when writing subject lines and the body:

  • $$$
  • Cash
  • Big bucks
  • Earn $$$
  • Make $
  • Only $
  • Save $
  • Cash Cash Cash
  • F r e e
  • Serious cash
  • Get Paid
  • XXX
  • Near you
  • Meet singles
  • Extra income
  • Passwords
  • Instant
  • Call
  • Click here
  • As seen on
  • Online biz opportunity
  • Don’t use strange fonts
  • Don’t include suspicious links
  • Don’t use extreme punctuations e.g., “FREE!!!!!”

Personalizing your emails by mentioning the recipient’s first name in the greeting line can also help you pass spam filters.

In summary, avoid any sensationalized words and practices. You should also go through your email body and ensure it reads like a legitimate email: clear grammatical errors and use high-resolution images.

6. Let your subscribers decide the content they want

Did you know that email list segmentation can also lower your bounce rate?

Most marketers recognize the impact of segmentation on boosting engagements and overall campaign performance. However, a few do not realize that the same technique can reduce the number of flagged emails.

Think about it: when subscribers get content they are interested in, they are less likely to report it as spam or block your address. Instead, they will engage with your emails. Doing so increases your email reputation boosting your overall email deliverability.

So, how do you segment your email list? One of the most straightforward email list segmentation techniques is asking subscribers to pick the content they want. 

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You can even go as far as asking your subscribers when or how frequently they want to receive your emails.

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The strategy allows you to segment your list at the entry point. That saves you tons of effort, time, and even cash you would have spent segmenting manually.

What if I already have an email list? In that case, you may have to send out an email blast asking your subscribers to pick the topics they are interested in. 

You could also look at your customer database and analyze the activities of your existing customers. Identify recurring themes and use them to group your customers or email list accordingly.

Segmentation is particularly critical for businesses dealing with a wide variety of products or services.

7. Clean up your email list

The number of inactive or incorrect email addresses in your list will grow over time. That’s due to the various reasons for bounce rates we covered above. 

For example, you could have an engaged email recipient from company x. But let’s say the company gets acquired. They will have to change their email domain. The change will render the email address you had invalid.

There’s little you can do to avoid such scenarios. However, you must tidy up your email list to ensure inactive addresses do not hurt your email reputation.

There are various ways of going about that. First, you could send “break up emails” to inactive accounts. Create a content upgrade or something similar that you host on a custom landing page. You can create this using a free website builder.

Monitor if the recipient will engage with the email, and click through to the content. If they don’t, consider dropping their address from your list.

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The other crucial strategy is to get rid of any email addresses giving you hard bounces. These bounces can significantly impact your email reputation, so remove them as soon as they’re identified.

You could also clean up your email list using email verification tools like Zerobounce and Hunter. These tools will scan your email list and identify any invalid email addresses. Not only that, but they can also show high-risk or spammy email addresses.

Email verification tool is even more critical if you don’t have a two-step email opt-in process.

8. Always use a company-brand email address

Sending bulk emails from a free domain like @gmail.com, @yahoo.com, or @hotmail.com increases the risk that your emails will bounce. 

Free email providers have policies in place to prevent phishing and spamming. They are, hence, likely to mark any bulk messages as spam. That will affect both your email deliverability and bounce rate.

Emails sent from free domains also tend to fail DMARC tests, prompting some receiving servers to reject the emails.

To avoid that, get a company-branded email address and authentic it. Besides lowering the bounce rate, branded email addresses look more professional, which can be helpful for your campaign. You don’t have to spend a fortune on this — some free website builders offer branded email addresses as a paid add-on for just a few dollars per month.

Summary

Email bounces are part of every campaign. However, the rate should never exceed 2%.

You learned eight proven methods to keep your email bounce rates within an acceptable range. Verify your email address, acquire permission from potential subscribers, don’t buy email lists, send emails consistently, and write quality emails free of spammy words. 

You should also use a branded email address, let subscribers choose the content they want, use branded email addresses, and clean your list.

Keep in mind that lowering the email bounce rate is a continuous process. So, tidy up your list at least once every six months. Follow this guideline, and you will see your email bounce rate drop and your deliverability rate increase.

About the author

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Michal Leszczyński
Michal is immersed in developing, implementing, and coordinating all manner of content marketing projects as the Head of Content Marketing & Partnerships at GetResponse. He has 8-plus years of expertise in online marketing with a Master of Science Degree in Strategic Marketing and Consulting from the University of Birmingham (UK). Michal is the author of more than 100 articles, ebooks, and courses for both GetResponse and renowned websites like Crazy Egg and Social Media Today.

Gravatar email: [email protected]

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