July 6, 2020

11 Easy Ways to Decrease Your Email Bounce Rate

Reading time about 11 min

Bounced emails can have a negative impact on your sender reputation and ability to land emails in the inbox. In this article you’ll learn 11 tried-and-tested tactics to decrease your email bounce rate for better email marketing results.

Think about it: a subscriber willingly hands over their email to get valuable information from you and they end up not getting it – it’s a lose-lose situation for everyone. 

Unfortunately, bounced emails are a common part of email marketing. It happens; people change their email addresses without notifying the mailing lists they’re on, and accounts languish untouched for years before they get disabled. 

But having a high email bounce rate can be detrimental to your overall email deliverability, which is why it’s important to not overlook it. Instead, if you work on improving it, you’ll increase opens and click throughs and ensure you have a healthy list of subscribers to regularly communicate with. 

Email Bounce Rate Definition – What Is It?  

If you’ve got questions like what is a hard bounce in email marketing? and how do I even calculate my bounce rate? you’re not alone. 

Your email bounce rate refers to the percentage of emails that “bounce” back to you (a.k.a. they don’t send). The lower the bounce rate the better, as this means that more emails than not are landing where they should. 

There’s a simple equation to work out your bounce rate as a percentage:

(# of bounces / # of delivered emails) x 100 = your email bounce rate

For example, if you send 2,000 emails and 10 bounce, you’d need to calculate 10 / 2000 x 100, giving you a bounce rate of 0.5%. 

There are two different kinds of email bounces:

  • Soft email bounce:

A soft email bounce describes temporary delivery failures, like when there’s an issue with the receiving sender, the recipient’s inbox is full, or your email is too large

  • Hard email bounce

A hard email bounce describes a permanent delivery failure, like an email sent to an invalid email address, an outdated domain, or an account that’s no longer used. When an email hard bounces, it won’t ever reach the recipient 

The Reasons Emails Bounce

There are a number of reasons why emails bounce and it’s difficult to work out why an individual email didn’t reach its desired recipient. 

It might be because:

  • The recipient no longer has access to the email account
  • The email account has been inactive for a long period of time or has been deleted
  • The email server is under construction
  • The recipient’s email inbox might be full 
  • The recipient has put you on their “blocked” list 

Instead of getting stuck on why an email hasn’t delivered, it’s best to look at your bounce rate as a whole and work on improving that. 

Why Your Email Bounce Rate is Important

Your email bounce rate can affect the overall delivery of all your emails. If it’s consistently high, your reputation as a sender can dramatically plummet. 

The worse your reputation is, the more likely it is that your emails will get sent straight to the dreaded Spam folder – even for recipients that actively open your emails and engage with you. 

When this happens, you’ll start to notice a decline in your engagement levels, including lower open rates, lower click through rates, and ultimately, a lower number of sales. 

As a result, you want to keep your email list as clean as possible and populated with email addresses that don’t bounce. This will ensure that the majority of your recipients will get your emails delivered where they can see them, not in their untouched Spam folder. 

So what is a good bounce rate? 

The average bounce rate falls somewhere between 2-5% depending on the industry you’re in. Anything over 5% should set alarm bells ringing and you should look into clearing up your list or determining why your emails are bouncing. 

How to Reduce Your Email Bounce Rate 

If you’ve identified a higher-than-average bounce rate or simply want to get your percentage down for optimum results, here are some ways you can reduce your email bounce rate. 

1. Double Opt-Ins

Getting subscribers to double opt-in and confirm their email addresses means you’ll see less people putting in false emails or sending your mail to inactive accounts. 

A double opt-in works by sending a “confirmation” email to a recipient when they sign up to your mailing list and only adds them to your list once they’ve clicked the confirm button.

The initial confirmation email has to get to them before they can confirm their email address, which ensures that the address is correct and accepting emails. 

2. Clean Your List Regularly 

Over time, your email list will become populated with inactive accounts and problem recipients if you don’t clean it. Just like anything, a quick tidy up every now and again will keep your list healthy and active. 

Start by getting rid of inactive users and people who haven’t opened your emails in a while, or carry out a retargeting campaign to pinpoint accounts that clearly aren’t in use or don’t want to receive your emails any more. 

Read: 5 Effective Email List Cleaning Tactics for Better Engagement

3. Make Sure Your Emails Aren’t Spammy

Stats show that more than 53% of global emails sent are spam. Your emails probably don’t fall into this percentage, but there are some key qualifiers that email providers use to identify spam and you might unconsciously be falling into them. 

To avoid alerting the dreaded spam filter, don’t use broken pictures and use copy in your emails that won’t put the spam detector on red alert. Phrases to avoid like the plague include: 

  • $$$
  • Act now!
  • Big bucks
  • Cash bonus
  • Free offer
  • Make money
  • No catch

You get the gist. Think about what would flag your Spam spidey senses in your inbox and make sure you don’t use those terms and phrases. 

4. Segment Your List

Segmenting your list means that subscribers only get information they want and need. As a result, they’re less likely to blacklist your email or send you straight to Spam. 

One of the most effective ways to segment is based on engagement: group together your most active subscribers and send them more emails than less-active subscribers. They have shown that they welcome your emails with open arms and, the higher you can push your engagement rates, the better your overall email campaigns will perform. 

Segmenting based on engagement also means you can run retargeting campaigns to re-engage dormant subscribers, which can also decrease your bounce rate. 

Read our guide to segmentation in email marketing for more useful tips on segmenting your email list.

5. Regularly Show Up

We’ve all received an email from someone we don’t know (or more aptly, don’t remember), only to realize we signed up to their mailing list over a year ago and haven’t heard anything from them since. 

Instead of grabbing email addresses and then going dark, regularly show up in your subscribers’ inboxes. They’ll start to anticipate your emails and having an active list of people who open and engage with your emails makes it easier to clean your list when you need to. 

6. Don’t Use Free Sender Domains 

Most email marketing providers these days advise you to send your emails from an owned domain. That means not using an address from a free platform, like Gmail or Yahoo. 

Sending from your own domain, like hello@yourbusiness.com, verifies you as a legitimate person or business and is less likely to hit the Spam folder. 

7. A/B Test Emails

Some emails perform better than others. Test out key elements like your subject lines, email copy, and CTAs to determine which phrases and features your subscribers respond best to. 

A/B testing emails like this – where you send two different emails to two groups of subscribers and see which one performs best – allows you to measure and tweak what works and what doesn’t to encourage more subscriber engagement. 

8. Remove Hard Bounced Email Addresses From Your List

One thing you should definitely do in your regular list clean up is remove hard bounced email addresses from your list. There’s no point keeping them because they’re either incorrect or inactive, which means the emails you send will never reach them. 

Eliminating hard bounced emails as soon as they appear will keep your email bounce rate low and healthy. 

With Sendinblue, hard bounces are automatically blacklisted to avoid emails being sent to this contact again. This way you can maintain an active list and get the best results for your email marketing next time you send a campaign.

Want to test-drive Sendinblue’s email marketing service? Our forever free plan lets you store unlimited contacts and send up to 300 emails/day.

9. Use a Signup Form With a Good Captcha System

A captcha system quickly identifies bots or Spam accounts that sign up for your email list. Having one in place alongside your signup form will ensure that only real people who want to sign up to your list do so. 

Wondering how to create an email signup form for your website? Get all the details in this 5-step guide.

10. Make Your Opt-Ins Relevant

The main way subscribers get themselves on your email list is by signing up for an opt-in, whether it’s an ebook, checklist, demo, or another freebie that takes them one step closer to purchase. 

To make sure the subscribers you get on your list are there for good reason and are engaged, create opt-ins that are hyper-focused to your target audience. The more aligned the content is that they get from you, the more likely they are to give you an active email address in the first place and continue to open your emails. 

11. Ask Subscribers for Any Changes

Email addresses change. It’s very unlikely that you have the same email address now than you did at eighteen. To make sure your list is full of active email accounts, ask your subscribers to let you know if anything changes, like when they get a new job and therefore a new email address, or if they update their details in any way.

With Sendinblue you can simply send your contacts an Update Profile Form.

This will help keep your list clean, healthy, and active, while encouraging your subscribers to participate and engage with you. 

It’s About Time You Looked at Your Email Bounce Rate

While often overlooked, your email bounce rate can dramatically affect the deliverability of your emails. If it’s too high, it can be detrimental to your entire email marketing campaign and you’ll struggle to get the results you want.

Keep it low, and you’ll ensure your list is healthy and engaged. Follow the tips we’ve laid out here to reduce your bounce rate and ultimately encourage more email opens, more click throughs, and more sales. 

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