What is Email Bounce Rate? 12 Tips to Improve It in 2024

Ammar Mazhar
Ammar Mazhar

Last updated on

April 25, 2024

Email bounce rate is not just a number of emails that aren’t delivered to a subscriber’s inbox; it is much more than that. A high bounce rate can affect sender reputation scores which can also decrease email deliverability

Email service providers (ESPs) don’t like senders with low deliverability rates. Thus, they proceed to blacklist them as soon as possible. This can make their email marketing campaigns flop. 

But fret not! This blog is all about what you can do to achieve acceptable email bounce rates and make your email campaigns successful.

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What is an email bounce rate?

Email bounce rate is the percentage of emails that never reach a recipient’s inbox. The sender receives a Non-Delivery Report (NDR) when an email bounces. 

Bounce rates can be frustrating in email marketing since they often indicate that there is something wrong with your campaign. 

Why do emails bounce?

Why do emails bounce?

Several reasons can cause an email to bounce. Unresponsive servers are one of the major reasons why emails bounce. Servers become unresponsive due to misconfigured DNS settings.

Emails can also bounce due to the recipient’s inbox being full, although, it is not a permanent bounce, and as soon as the recipients clear their inboxes, the emails are delivered.

Fake email addresses are also guilty of causing emails to bounce. Most fake emails are computer bots trying to get on an email list for malicious purposes. Hence, it is essential to weed out fake email addresses and keep the email list clean, to avoid increasing the bounce rate.

Typos in an email address can also cause emails to bounce. So, it is prudent to proofread your email list before sending the emails.

There is nothing an email marketer can do about inactive email addresses. But they can remove such email addresses using an email address testing tool. An email address testing tool can reveal whether an email is inactive or fake. 

Some of these issues are fixable, and, therefore, are temporary. This raises a question. Are all email bounces same? No, they are not! 

2 Types of bounce rates

Types of email bounce rates

There are two types of bounces:

  1. Hard bounce
  2. Soft bounce

1. What is hard bounce?

A hard bounce is a permanent failure of email delivery. This happens when the domain name doesn't exist anymore, the email address is fake, or the email address has a typo in it. 

A hard bounce can adversely affect both email sender reputation and email deliverability. The best way to avoid a hard bounce is to clean the email list of all dormant subscribers, segment the email lists, and authenticate the emails.

Hard bounce

2. What is soft bounce?

A soft bounce is a temporary email delivery failure. This usually happens when the recipient's mailbox is full or their mail server is down. As soft bounce is temporary, the email will reach the recipient's inbox once the recipient’s domain server is restored or the recipient clears their inbox.

Soft bounce

What's the difference between a hard and soft bounce?

Hard and soft bounces are unavoidable. As an email marketer or even an entrepreneur who wants to understand the reason behind the high bounce rates, this table highlights the main differences between hard and soft bounce.

Hard Bounce Soft Bounce
Permanent delivery failure Temporary delivery failure
Due to non-existent domains or a fake email address Due to a down mail server or a full inbox
Adversely affects email deliverability Doesn’t affect email deliverability or sender reputation score

How to calculate email bounce rate?

The email bounce rate is calculated by taking the number of bounced emails and dividing it by the total number of sent emails.

For example, if a person sends 2000 emails and 200 bounced, the email bounce rate would be 10%.

How to calculate email bounce rates?

Average bounce rate across industries

Agriculture and food services have the lowest hard and soft bounce rates of 0.32% and 0.50%. Next comes the architecture and construction industries, with soft bounce and hard bounce rates of 1.18% and 0.73%, respectively. 

Business and finance industries have bounce rates of 0.55% and 0.43%. Computers and electronics have soft bounce and hard bounce rates of 0.79% and 0.47%

These statistics indicate that the average bounce rate across all of these industries is less than 2%. Also, email bounce is inevitable. No matter how perfect your email campaign is it will face email bounce. However, anything above 2% is considered problematic, therefore, prompting email marketers to take steps to reduce the bounce rate.

12 useful tips for reducing bounce rate

Here are 12 tips that you can use to reduce the bounce rate and bring it down to acceptable levels.

1. Use permission-based double opt-in forms

The use of permission-based double opt-in forms is considered a best practice. When someone signs up to receive emails, they receive a confirmation email first. User confirms their email address and then must explicitly give their permission to receive email communications.

This two-step process helps to reduce email bounces and ensures that only those interested in hearing from you are on your email list. As a result, your email marketing metrics will be more accurate, and you can be confident that your messages are reaching those who want to receive them.

Double-opt in forms starts working when a prospect shows interest in subscribing to an email list. After the prospect provides their email address, a confirmation email goes out to them asking them to confirm their subscription to the email list. If they confirm it, they automatically subscribe to that email list. If they don’t, then they aren’t included in the list.

Here’s how you can use Mailmunch to send double-opt in forms. When you create your email list, you will see a dashboard listing your email lists. The dashboard also shows your subscribers count and whether or not you have turned on the double-opt in forms.

By turning on the double opt-in forms, you can send confirmation emails to all the subscribers. Also, the confirmation email is customized to include more information that you require from your subscribers.

Enabling double-opt in form in Mailmunch

2. Remove dormant contacts from the email list

Dormant contacts are email addresses that have been inactive for a while. While there are several reasons why an email address may become dormant, the most common is that the contact has changed their email address or no longer uses the email account. Dormant contacts can hurt email marketing metrics, such as the email bounce rate.

 For this reason, it is important to remove dormant contacts from the email list regularly. This will help to improve email deliverability and sender reputation score. 

3. Use SPF and DKIM to authenticate the emails

Email authentication is the process of verifying whether an email address is genuine or fake. This is important because email spoofing is a common type of email fraud. 

The fraudster uses an email with a forged sender address in email spoofing. This is done for malicious reasons such as phishing.

According to a study, less than 40% of brands use any kind of email authentication like SPF, DKIM, or DMARC.

Sender Policy Framework (SPF)  and DomainKeys identified Mail (DKIM) are two common email authentication methods. SPF checks the sender's IP address against a list of authorized addresses, while DKIM uses digital signatures to verify the sender's identity. 

But some email clients also require Domain-based Message Authentication Reporting and Conformance (DMARC)  authentication. Therefore, enable the DMARC authentication for your emails.

By authenticating their domains, businesses can help to reduce their email bounce rate and avoid being blacklisted by ESPs.

4. Avoid a free domain send-from address

One of the main reasons for a high email bounce rate is using a free domain send-from address. Marketing related emails sent from a free domain send-from address don’t pass the DMARC policy of Gmail and Yahoo. So you will experience a hard bounce if you persist in sending your emails from a free domain.

Purchase a dedicated domain, preferably a .com domain for your business and enable all the email authentications. Also, you can buy a Google G-suite account from Google Domains. The advantage of buying G-Suite is that it comes with email protection features and Gmail features already enabled.

5. Engagement based email list segmentation

When you segment your email list by engagement, you're essentially creating a smaller, more focused audience within your larger email list. This allows you to send more targeted, personalized email content to the most likely recipients to engage with it, which can lead to higher email open and click-through rates and lower email bounce rates.

And you can also more easily track and measure your email marketing progress and ROI against specific goals.

So, if your goal is to increase email open rates, for example, you can track that metric more closely for the segments of your email list that are most engaged. 

6. Avoid spamming

Being marked as a spammer can also increase your email bounce rate. And, consequently, can get you blacklisted. There are a few things that you can do to avoid being marked as a spammer.

Don’t write the entire subject line in block letters. Spam filters are programmed to look for such subject lines. Too many emojis are also considered spam by these filters.

Always ask permission to send emails. It can be done by using double opt-in forms. 

Use a spam checking tool to ensure that nothing in your email is spam triggering.

Adhere to the guidelines of the CAN-SPAM act set up by the Federal Trade Commission of the USA. These guidelines include: 

  • Don’t use deceptive subject lines.
  • Identify the message as an ad.
  • Tell your recipient of your location.
  • Provide an unsubscribe link.
  • Don’t use misleading header information.

7. Be consistent with sending the emails

Email lists can go stale as soon as 6 months. And, if they remain dormant for longer periods than that, then there can be a sharp increase in bounce rates.

Thus, it is better to be consistent in sending the emails. Connect with the subscribers regularly and they won’t forget you.

Upon creating a new email list, immediately send your subscribers a welcome email. Afterward, keep sending them relevant emails and keep them engaged. This way, you don’t have to regularly clean your email lists.

8. Include a manage preference link in the emails

Add an unsubscribe link in the email footer. By not including an unsubscribe link, recipients who don’t want to interact with your emails will mark them as spam, thus, affecting both your sender reputation and bounce rate.

Additionally, a manage preference link can help to reduce the bounce rate. By providing a way for recipients to update their preferences, you give control to the recipients about how often they want to hear from you. 

To A/B test your emails, send out two different versions of the email to a small portion of your list. Check the email analytics to see which version had a lower email bounce rate. Then, send the best version to the rest of your list. A/B testing can help you improve your email deliverability and keep your sender reputation score high. 

10. Use a CAPTCHA

CAPTCHAs  (Completely Automated Public Turing Test To Tell Humans And Computers Apart)  are a common security measure used to protect email forms from computer bots. Computer bots try to gain access to an email list for the purpose of phishing and email fraud. Thus, by using CAPTCHAs, email marketers protect their email list from getting compromised.

CAPTCHAs include JPEG or GIF images that have scrambled text written on them. While humans are capable of reading distorted text, bots cannot. They can only know what format the image is by reading its source code.

So, by including a CAPTCHA in the single or double-opt in forms, only valid email addresses will be included in your list.

11. Get subscriber feedback

Getting feedback from subscribers is essential for email marketers. It allows them to gauge email engagement and understand what subscribers are interested in. 

To get subscriber feedback, email marketers can use a variety of tools, including email surveys and social media polls. Additionally, they can analyze email marketing data to see which emails are bouncing more than the other and the reasons that are causing them to bounce.

Thus, they can use this data to curate their email marketing campaigns. And remedy the aspects that are increasing the bounce rate. 

12. Monitor your results

Email marketers should continuously monitor their email bounce rate and take steps to improve their email deliverability. 

Leaving email bounce rate to fester and increase, even gradually, can adversely affect the sender's reputation in the long run.

With continuous monitoring of your email bounce rate, you can take timely steps to improve the bounce rate and save your email marketing campaigns from failing altogether.

How can you improve email bounce rates with Mailmunch?

The key takeaway from this is that low email bounce rates are normal and shouldn’t be a cause for concern. But a sharp uptick in bounce rates should prompt you to take measures to bring it under control. 

But first, it is essential to keep track of bounce rates continuously. And that can be done with an email marketing analytics tool.

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What is a good soft bounce rate?

A soft bounce rate is a measure of the number of email messages that are returned due to a temporary error. A good soft bounce rate is typically below 2%

What is a good hard bounce rate?

A hard bounce rate is a measure of the number of email messages that are returned due to a permanent error. A good hard bounce rate is typically below 2%.

When does a soft bounce become a hard bounce?

A soft bounce becomes a hard bounce when the email continuously fails to reach the recipient. If the email isn’t delivered after three tries, then it converts into a hard bounce from a soft bounce.

Author Bio

Ammar Mazhar

A voracious reader and a music lover, Ammar has been writing engaging and informative content for over 3 years for B2B and B2C markets. With a knack for writing SEO-optimized content, Ammar ensures the results speak for themselves.


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