According to Statista, about 333 million emails were sent each day in 2022. Most of them were business emails. But do you know not all of them were delivered to people’s inboxes?

While on the outside, it doesn’t seem important to pay attention to your email bounce rate. After all, if your email marketing campaigns are generating leads and revenue, who has time to care about a few undelivered emails, right?

Wrong.

The reality is your email bounce rate can negatively affect the long-term success of your email marketing efforts. That’s right, a high bounce rate can prohibit the success of your entire email marketing and not just one campaign.

This is because most email service providers (ESPs) don’t like high bounce rates and often blacklist senders that have unusually high bounce rates.

The average bounce rate in different industries as of 2022 is as follows.

  • The agricultural and food industry has reported the lowest hard and soft bounce rates of 0.32% and 0.50%, respectively.
  • The construction and architecture industry comes next, with hard and soft bounce rates of 0.73% and 1.18%, respectively.
  • Hard and soft bounce rates for business and finance are 0.55% and 0.43%, respectively.
  • The hard and soft bounce rates for electronics are 0.47% and 0.79%, respectively.

Email bounces are inescapable. No matter how flawless your email marketing is, email bounce will still occur. According to the above figures, each industry has a bounce rate of less than 2%. So, email marketers must take action to lower the bounce rate because anything above 2% can be regarded as harmful.

Fortunately, you can take steps to ensure your email campaigns have a high delivery rate and stay in the good graces of your ESP.

In this article, we will look at some such steps and everything else you need to know in order to reduce your email bounce rate and keep it low.

Let’s start with the basics:

What Is Email Bounce Rate?

As the name suggests, the email bounce rate is the total percentage of emails that never get delivered. When an email ‘bounces’, the sender receives a non-delivery report.

Now, ensuring a perfect 0% with your bounce rate is next to impossible. This is because there are certain circumstances that are out of your control.

For example, if you are sending out emails to specific employees in different companies, you may end up sending one to someone who switched jobs after you started your email marketing campaign. Naturally, their email address will be deactivated by their employer, and your email will not hit their inbox and get bounced.

That’s why most seasoned email marketers agree that a 1%-2% email bounce rate is normal. In fact, this is also reflected in the industry averages. For instance, according to Mailer Lite, the average bounce rate for marketing agencies is 1.05%. Similarly, the bounce rate for businesses in the beauty and personal care industry is 0.39%.

The overall average bounce rate across industries was about 0.55% in 2021.

A similar pattern can be seen with other email service providers. For instance, in the case of MailChimp, the average hard bounce rate across industries is 0.40%, and the soft bounce rate is 0.58%.

Having said that, if your bounce rate is over 1%-2%, there may be some fixes required. Before we discuss them, let us understand the different types of bounce rates.

Hard Bounce vs Soft Bounce

Most ESPs don’t mind when you encounter a soft bounce but are quick to blacklist senders with a hard bounce rate. Let us understand why by learning the difference between the two:

A hard bounce happens when your email gets bounced permanently. This usually happens because of some issue in your email marketing data, like a non-existent domain name or a mistake in the email address, or a fake email address.

As mentioned earlier, each hard bounce will bring you closer to being blacklisted by your ESP. To solve this issue, you will need to authenticate the email addresses in your list, clean out fake and dormant email addresses, and segment your email lists.

On the other hand, a soft bounce refers to when your email gets bounced temporarily. This can happen because the recipient’s mailbox is full or because the ESPs server is down, among many other reasons.

In most cases, as soon as these temporary problems on the recipient’s end are resolved, your emails will start getting delivered. That’s why a soft bounce doesn’t lead to any problems.

Now that we understand the difference between a soft bounce and a hard bounce, and the common reasons behind the two, let’s look at how you can calculate your email bounce rate.

Calculating Email Bounce Rate

You can calculate your email bounce rate using a simple formula. Simply divide the number of bounces by the total number of emails that you have sent and multiply the remainder by 100, and you’ll get your email bounce rate percentage. Here’s the formula for your reference:

Finally, we can start discussing the tips that you can use to ensure a low email bounce rate for your campaigns.

Tips To Reduce Email Bounce Rate

Here are a few ways you can reduce your email bounce rate:

Verify Your Domain

Every time you send an email, even when it isn’t part of a campaign, the email has to pass certain security checks imposed by the recipient’s email servers. These checks are primarily used to prevent spamming and fraud. These security checks decide whether an email is delivered or blocked, or flagged as spam.

Passing these security checks is simple. All you have to do is get your domain verified. There are many services that can help you with this. Some popular ones include DomainKeys Identified Emails (DKIM) and Sender Policy Framework (SPF). These services work by associating your emails with digital signatures that allow them to get authenticated and pass security tests.

You can contact your email service provider and ask them to help you with the authentication and verification of your domain.

Note that less than 40% of businesses use these domain validation services. This means, just by following this simple and possible free-of-cost step, you can gain a competitive advantage.

Validate Your Email List

No email list is perfect. Almost every email list will have inactive or incorrect email addresses. The alarming thing is that over time, the number of inactive or incorrect email addresses in your list will keep growing due to unavoidable scenarios.

Examples include a changed domain name at the recipient’s end or a scenario when the intended recipient has left the organization. While these scenarios are out of your control, you can still avoid them by cleaning up your email list from time to time. You can do this manually by sending emails and tracking what happens with them. If the recipient doesn’t interact with the email or even open it, you can consider dropping them from your email list.

However, if you have a large email list, doing this may not be feasible. There is also the chance that you may end up dropping some useful email addresses.

You can also provide an unsubscription for your consumers and give them the opportunity to change their preferences about what kind of emails they want to receive from you.

One of the alternatives is to use a professional email validation service. Sure, it is an extra cost, but it is absolutely worthwhile. Here’s a case study that proves the effectiveness of email validation services:

MediaShares, a marketing and funding consultancy, was banned by its email service provider because of its high bounce rate. This is when they approached a professional email validation service called Zero Bounce.

With Zero Bounce, MediaShares’ email list was validated, and as a result, their bounce rate was dramatically reduced. In fact, it came down to almost 0%. With this, MediaShares was able to get their email account reinstated.

For a detailed look at this case study, click here.

Never Buy Email Lists

While it is possible to purchase email lists, and many times, such email lists are full of authentic email addresses, doing this is not recommended. In fact, in some places, buying an email list is an illegal practice and can get you into serious trouble.

For instance, according to GDPR laws, a business must obtain permission from recipients before contacting them.

Even if you operate in a region where buying email lists is not illegal, doing this can potentially cause permanent damage to your business’ reputation. This is because most people don’t like unsolicited messages in their inboxes.

If a user has not consciously and intentionally subscribed or agreed to get emails from you, they probably will not appreciate receiving a promotional email. After all, we are all taught, as email users, to never open or engage with unrecognized messages.

When your recipients don’t engage with your emails, they will start ending up in the spam folder. As more and more emails end up in the spam folder, your chances of getting blacklisted will increase. There may also be the chance that your email service provider will simply prohibit you from using a purchased email list.

Ask For Permission

This is a best practice that can not only reduce the bounce rate of your email campaigns but also help you drive better results with your email marketing campaigns.

As we discussed in the previous point, purchasing email lists is not an option. Good email lists are built.

To build your email list, you may use content assets, newsletter signups, and lead magnets.

However, once someone has opted into your email list, it is a wise decision to send them a confirmation email.

Adding this extra step may seem counterintuitive, as it may make certain targets turn away from opting in. However, the reality is quite the opposite.

If a prospect will truly benefit from your emails and they truly want to enjoy this benefit, they will not mind an additional step to sign up. On the other hand, those who are unsure, those who may have subscribed by accident, and many of those who may have subscribed later will be discouraged from joining your email list because of this extra step.

The result will be a clean email list of people who truly want to receive your emails. Consequently, your bounce rates will be low.

Use A CAPTCHA

CAPTCHA is short for Completely Automated Public Turing Test To Tell Humans And Computers Apart, and the name is quite self-explanatory.
One of the biggest reasons your emails bounce is because of bots signing up to email lists with malicious intent. Bots sign up with incorrect email addresses, resulting in more emails being bounced. As a result, the senders get blocked or blacklisted by their email service providers.

This problem can be combated with the use of CAPTCHA. It uses distorted images with text in them, the computers cannot read, but humans can. This way, a CAPTCHA can ensure you don’t have any bots on your email lists and are able to keep your bounce rate low.

Use A Branded Domain

Emails from non-branded domains often don’t pass the security checks that email providers like Gmail have in place. This is especially true if you are sending out marketing emails. Meaning if you are not using a branded domain for email marketing, you will face a lot of hard bounces.

Use a dedicated branded email for your email marketing purposes. This will not only enable you to get your domain verified and pass the security checks of Google and other email providers, but it will also enable you to appear more professional in front of prospects.

Be Consistent

In most marketing efforts, the consistent effort pays off handsomely, and email marketing is no exception. Sending emails consistently will enable you to keep your subscribers engaged and ensure they remember you.

On the other hand, if you send out emails after long breaks, it may lead your subscribers to forget you or the fact that they signed up to your email list and mark your emails as spam, which can dramatically increase your bounce rate.

For the sake of top-of-the-mind recall, make sure you are consistent when it comes to sending out marketing emails.

Here you can see an example from Cambly, they are trying to send emails every day.

Segment Your Email List

Segmentation is a powerful tool for any email marketing professional. Segmentation allows you to categorize your email list into smaller, more focused groups. You can then share more personalized content with these segments of your target audience.

With respect to reducing your bounce rate, you can segment your email list based on their level of engagement. For example, you can create a segment of subscribers that opened your emails in the last 30 days, a segment of users that clicked on the link within your email, and a segment of users that never engaged with your email in any manner.

Then, you can send them different emails that may have a better chance of driving engagement. For instance, you can send an email with an interesting subject line that may prompt them to open your email. Similarly, for the list that clicked on the link in your email, you can send them more interesting stuff on your website or maybe even a personalized offer.

Segmentation allows you to craft emails that don’t feel like marketing emails but deliver real value to your subscribers. Not only would this reduce your bounce rate, but it can also potentially improve the ROI you can drive from your email marketing efforts.

Don’t Spam

It’s obvious that being marked as a spammer is not good for you or your email marketing efforts. Fortunately, it doesn’t take a lot to avoid being tagged as a spammer. If you are following our earlier advice of using a confirmation email for your subscribers, then you have already won half the battle.

Besides that, you can also educate yourself about and adhere to the CAN-SPAM guidelines laid out by the FTC of the USA. It is also a good idea to avoid engaging in known spam practices, such as using too many emojis or writing your subject line in all capital letters.

You can also use a spam-checking tool to ensure your emails are not flagged by the spam filters of email providers.

Updates that impacted email marketing in 2021

1. Apple’s New Privacy Update

Apple’s Mail Privacy Protection (MPP) is a new set of functions that gives users of the Apple Mail app or desktop email software more control over their personal information regarding their email inbox. Apple introduced it in September 2021. The information about when, where, and how the users open their emails is kept secret, thanks to the MPP.

The MPP effectively obliterates open rate tracking for emails. This is because Apple stores the entire email on its server when someone sends an email to the inbox of an Apple Mail user. Apple accomplishes this by downloading every image, including the ones with tracking pixels. So what happens then is although the end recipient might not have opened the email, this behavior appears to the email service provider (ESP) as an email open.

It implies that regardless of whether your Apple Mail recipients actually open your email or not, you might theoretically see a 100% open rate for them. The more Apple Mail users you have in your email list, the more your open rates will artificially increase. Your click-to-open ratio will also falsely decline as your open rate increases. Tracking the bounce rate for your emails also becomes difficult because of this.

When the user finally decides to open your email, Apple Mail downloads it from its own servers instead of downloading the email from the sender’s web host or an ESP server. Consequently, the email sender can no longer see the recipient’s activities. This means that in addition to restricting information on open rate tracking, Apple’s MPP also hides the IP addresses of customers who open your email.

For Q3 2021, Apple incorporated its Mail Privacy Protection in all significant OS updates, including the following:

  • iOS 15
  • macOS Monterey
  • iPadOS 15
  • watchOS 8

People who use the Apple Mail app with the MPP functionality enabled and are running one of these operating systems will not get tracked with pixel pictures. This is valid for all Apple products, including the iPhone, Mac, iPad, and even the Apple Watch.

2. Gmail’s Dynamic email

Dynamic email offers a richer experience than traditional email, going far beyond the emails that dominated the early years of online communication. These emails eliminate the need for recipients to click on external links to execute a range of functions. The following actions are now possible directly within email messages:

  • Browse Images
  • Complete surveys
  • RSVP for events
  • Write or read comments

Thanks to Gmail’s dynamic email update, digital marketers can now reach their customers directly via Gmail without the hassle of tracking the email open rate, bounce rate, and website traffic. Now, they can put actionable goals in the body of their emails or newsletters and direct their reader straight to meaningful conversions. This functionality has reduced the significance of customers clicking on an external link and waiting for the web page to load. It can let you avoid the risk of having your customers drop off in the middle when a web page takes more than a few seconds to load.

Conclusion

Making sure your bounce rate stays low is not challenging. Just make sure you are following email marketing best practices and try not to be spammy, and you should be able to maintain a productive relationship with your email service provider.