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Soft Bounce vs Hard Bounce Email: A Guide to Email Bounce Management

Published on:
July 17, 2022

Everything You Should Know About Soft Bounce vs. Hard Bounce Email


What's the difference between a soft bounce and a hard bounce? A "soft bounce email" is when an email is temporarily undeliverable due to an issue on the recipient's end. On the other hand, a "hard bounce email" occurs when an email address does not exist at the domain, and an email cannot be delivered because no valid address exists at that domain. An understanding of soft bounce vs. hard bounce emails can help you avoid spending money on non-existent customers as well as help your deliverability rates improve by not sending to invalid addresses.

Key Differences Between Soft Bounce Email and Hard Bounce Email

The key difference between a soft bounce and a hard bounce email is that a soft bounce email is a temporary issue while a hard bounce email is a permanent one. For example, a soft bounce could be due to an inbox being full, while a hard bounce would be due to an invalid email address. This distinction is important because it can affect your email marketing. If you have a high number of soft bounces, it may just mean that you need to resend your emails over the period of a few days.

You must try to keep your total bounce rate under 2% - higher than that, you may start noticing some deliverability issues.

Soft Bounce Emails:

‍ A soft bounce email is an email that gets returned to the sender because the recipient's mailbox is full, temporarily unavailable, or the receiving server is down.

- Mailbox Full: The recipient's mailbox is full and can't accept any more emails. This soft bounce email usually happens when someone is on vacation and doesn't have time to empty their mailbox.

- Temporary Unavailable: The recipient's email address is temporarily unavailable. It could be for various reasons, like being busy at work, logging out, internet issues, etc. Once they come back online and log in again, the email will be delivered.

- Server Down: Server Down is a common "Soft Bounce Email" as servers may be down due to scheduled maintenance or technical difficulties. These emails will be delivered once the server comes back online and a connection can be established.


Soft bounce emails typically happen less often than hard bounces, but you still need to make sure you're whitelisting your email domains from major providers such as Gmail, Yahoo!, AOL, and Outlook (Hotmail).


Hard Bounce Emails

 Permanent hard bounce email happens when an email address no longer exists. This could be because the user closed their account or because the domain no longer exists.

Temporary hard bounces occur when there's a problem with the recipient's email server. This could be because the server is down or over capacity. The email will usually bounce back within a few days.

Unknown hard bounces happen when the reason for the bounce is unknown. This is often due to a typo in the email address.

Email marketers should pay attention to hard bounces because they can negatively impact your deliverability rate. You can use tools to monitor your emails' performance and track which domains are generating the most bounces. You can also use these tools to proactively prevent potential issues by updating old contacts and identifying domains that might need intervention.


How to Improve Email Bounce Rates

If you're noticing that your email bounce rate is high, there are a few things you can do to improve it:

First, clean up your list regularly. Remove any inactive or invalid email addresses to prevent soft and hard bounce emails.

Second, send emails consistently. If you're sporadic with your email, people are more likely to forget about you.

Third, avoid using spammy language in your emails, such as adding percentages or special characters in the subject line, using all capital letters, and using terms such as "offer," "discount," "free," and so on. This will trigger spam filters and cause your emails to be bounced or end up in the spam/junk folder.

By following these simple tips, you can improve your email bounce rate and ensure that your messages are getting through to your subscribers.


Finding Bounce Information in your Reports

Most mailing list providers have some sort of system in place to track bounced emails. You can usually find information on soft and hard bounce emails in your reports. If you see a high number of hard bounce emails, it's a good idea to investigate why this is happening. It could be an issue with your email content or that you're on a blacklist. Either way, it's essential to take action to improve your deliverability. Soft bounce emails are less serious than hard bounce emails, but they can still impact your deliverability. Soft bounce email issues are usually resolved quickly, so you don't need to take any immediate action.


Frequently Asked Questions


What do hard and soft bounce emails mean in the context of email marketing?

A "hard bounce email" is an email that has been returned to the sender because the recipient's address is invalid. There are three main reasons for hard bounce emails: the domain name doesn't exist, the recipient's email server has blocked the emails, or the mailbox is disabled.


What are the reasons for hard bounce email?

A "hard bounce" is an email that has been returned to the sender because the recipient's address is invalid. There are three main reasons for a hard bounce: the domain name doesn't exist, the recipient's email server has blocked the emails, or the mailbox is disabled.


How to stop a soft bounce email?

A soft bounce email is an email that's returned to the sender because the recipient's mailbox is full or temporarily unavailable. To stop a soft bounce email, you need to reduce the size of your email or wait until the recipient's mailbox is available again.