Eliminating Email Bounces and Improving Deliverability in 5 Easy Steps


For any business using email marketing, one of the key metrics to pay attention to is your email bounce rate. But what exactly does this refer to? Your email bounce rate is the percentage of emails from your campaigns that are returned or “bounce” instead of being successfully delivered to recipients. A high bounce rate is problematic because it indicates that your emails are not reaching your intended targets.

There are two main types of email bounces – hard bounces and soft bounces. Hard bounces occur when an email address is invalid and unable to receive any messages. On the other hand, soft bounces are temporary delivery failures, often due to a full inbox or server being down temporarily.

It’s crucial to monitor and reduce your overall bounce rate, as high rates can negatively impact your sender reputation, deliverability, and email marketing results. High bounce rates signal to spam filters that your emails are unwanted, which can lead to blacklisting. Your emails are also more likely to end up in the spam folder. Furthermore, you waste time and resources sending emails to invalid addresses.

To calculate your email bounce rate, divide your total number of bounced emails by the total number of emails you sent, and multiply by 100. For example, if you sent 10,000 emails and had 500 bounces, your bounce rate would be 5% (500/10,000 x 100). Most experts recommend keeping your bounce rate under 5%, so anything higher should trigger efforts to clean your list and improve deliverability.

By understanding bounce rates and implementing best practices to reduce them, you can optimize your email marketing program for greater deliverability, open rates, and return on investment.

Steps To Take To Reduce Your Email Bounce Rate

Clean your email list regularly

Regularly cleaning your email list is a crucial step in achieving this goal. First, establish a routine for list maintenance, ideally every 3 to 6 months, to ensure a high deliverability rate and enhance campaign performance.

One key aspect of list cleaning is removing inactive subscribers. These are individuals who haven’t engaged with your emails in a while, typically 6-12 months. You can identify them by segmenting your list and sending re-engagement emails. If they remain unresponsive, it’s best to remove them from your list.

Another big task is eliminating hard bounced emails. These occur when emails are undeliverable due to permanent issues like invalid addresses or closed accounts. Monitor your email delivery reports for hard bounces and promptly remove these addresses to prevent future issues.

To protect your sender reputation, it’s essential to identify and remove spam traps from your list. Spam traps are email addresses created to catch spammers, and sending emails to them can lead to severe consequences. Be cautious about the sources of your email addresses and use email verification tools to scan for potential traps.

Consider using email list cleaning tools to streamline this process, as they can identify and remove invalid or risky addresses and provide real-time verification during sign-up. Additionally, maintaining subscriber engagement is vital. Send relevant, personalized content, conduct A/B tests, and request feedback to understand your audience’s preferences.

Implementing double opt-in can help verify the authenticity of subscribers and improve list quality. Always monitor and analyze bounce reports provided by your email marketing platform, taking appropriate actions based on the types of bounces observed. Lastly, remember that maintaining list hygiene is an ongoing process, and it should be adjusted based on your email marketing objectives. By following these steps and best practices, you can significantly reduce your email bounce rate, boost your sender reputation, and enhance the effectiveness of your email campaigns.

Use a double opt-in process

Implementing a double opt-in process in your email marketing strategy can be a significant step towards maintaining a high-quality subscriber list. Double opt-in, or confirmed opt-in, is a method where new subscribers must take an extra step to confirm their email address before being added to your list. This additional layer of verification serves a twofold purpose. First, it helps ensure that your subscribers are real individuals genuinely interested in receiving your emails. Second, it safeguards your email list against fake or mistyped email addresses.

To set up a double opt-in system, you can leverage the features provided by most email marketing platforms or use a third-party service specialized in this process. Here’s how it works: when a new subscriber expresses their interest in joining your email list, whether through a sign-up form on your website or another channel, an automated confirmation email is sent to their provided email address. This email contains a confirmation link, and the subscriber is required to click on this link to validate their subscription. Once they’ve clicked on the link, their email address is officially added to your list, and they are now confirmed subscribers.

This extra step in the sign-up process not only ensures the accuracy of the provided email addresses but also demonstrates a higher level of engagement and interest from your subscribers. It can also help you maintain a cleaner, more responsive list, ultimately leading to improved email deliverability and more successful email marketing campaigns.

Be careful with incentivized sign-ups

While incentivized sign-ups can undoubtedly serve as a powerful strategy to rapidly expand your email list, it’s important to approach this method with caution, as it can potentially lead to an uptick in your email bounce rate. The reason behind this lies in the fact that individuals might be enticed to join your list solely for the sake of obtaining the offered incentive, even if they have no genuine interest in receiving your regular emails.

Should you opt to employ incentives as part of your email list growth strategy, it’s vital to ensure a few key considerations. First and foremost, the incentive you provide should be closely aligned with the interests and needs of your target audience. This alignment will help ensure that those signing up are genuinely interested in the content and offerings your emails provide, which can ultimately lead to more engaged and responsive subscribers.

Something to keep in mind is this – transparency is key. Make it explicitly clear that in order to receive the incentive, subscribers must confirm their subscription. This not only reinforces the importance of genuine interest but also helps filter out those who may have joined solely for the incentive. By setting this expectation from the outset, you’re more likely to attract subscribers who are genuinely interested in your content and, consequently, reduce the likelihood of an inflated email bounce rate. Balancing incentives with relevance and clear communication can help you build a more responsive and engaged email list, ensuring that your email marketing efforts yield better results.

Authenticate your domain

Authenticating your domain is a crucial step in ensuring that your email communications are not mistaken for spam and that your recipients can trust the source of your messages. This process serves as a way to prove to email servers that you are indeed who you claim to be, providing a level of credibility to your emails.

There are two main methods of domain authentication – Sender Policy Framework (SPF) and DomainKeys Identified Mail (DKIM).

  • SPF enables you to specify which servers are authorized to send emails on behalf of your domain. By creating a list of authorized senders in your SPF record, you help email servers verify the authenticity of emails originating from your domain. This safeguards against spoofing and unauthorized use of your domain, enhancing the trustworthiness of your email communications.
  • DKIM, on the other hand, adds an additional layer of security by attaching a digital signature to your emails. This signature is generated using encryption techniques and is unique to your domain. Email servers can then use this signature to verify that the email has not been altered during transit, ensuring that it indeed originated from your domain and has not been tampered with.

Setting up SPF and DKIM records is a process that can typically be done through your domain registrar or DNS provider. By configuring these records correctly, you not only establish your domain’s authenticity but also increase the chances of your emails being delivered successfully, as many email servers are configured to verify these authentication methods. In essence, domain authentication is a critical component of email deliverability, helping to bolster the trustworthiness of your emails and improve your overall email marketing success.

Send emails consistently

Sending emails on a consistent basis is an important part in maintaining a strong and engaged subscriber base. When you don’t send emails frequently enough, there’s a risk that your subscribers may forget about your brand, and their email addresses may become inactive over time. In the world of email marketing, “out of sight, out of mind” is a significant concern. To combat this, it’s crucial to establish a consistent email sending schedule that aligns with the preferences of your audience.

The key is to strike a balance between maintaining a regular presence in your subscribers’ inboxes without overwhelming them. This often means establishing a set frequency, whether it’s weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly, and sticking to it. This consistency can help keep your brand and content fresh in the minds of your subscribers, making it more likely that they’ll engage with your emails when they do arrive.

Leveraging email automation is a powerful way to maintain this consistency without requiring constant manual effort. For instance, you can set up triggered emails, like welcome emails for new subscribers or birthday greetings for existing ones. These automated emails can ensure that your subscribers receive relevant, timely content while minimizing the risk of extended periods of email inactivity. Ultimately, by sending emails consistently and strategically, you can keep your audience engaged and reduce the chances of their email addresses becoming dormant, which is essential for the long-term success of your email marketing campaigns.

Segment your email list

Segmenting your email list is a strategic approach that can help enhance the effectiveness of your email marketing campaigns. The concept is simple but powerful: it involves dividing your subscriber list into smaller, more focused segments based on specific criteria, such as demographics, interests, engagement levels, or behavior. This segmentation enables you to tailor your email content to the unique preferences and needs of each group, resulting in more targeted and relevant emails.

The benefits of email list segmentation are multifaceted. By sending content that resonates with a particular segment, you can increase engagement levels, as subscribers are more likely to open, read, and interact with emails that are directly relevant to them. Not only that, if you reduce the “one-size-fits-all” approach, you can mitigate the risk of bounces and unsubscribes, as your emails are better aligned with what your recipients are expecting.

For instance, consider creating a segment of subscribers who haven’t opened one of your emails in the last 30 days. This segment can be targeted with a re-engagement campaign specifically designed to reignite their interest and encourage them to start opening your emails again. In doing so, you’re not only revitalizing dormant subscribers but also optimizing your email list’s health and performance.

In short, email list segmentation is a powerful tool that empowers you to deliver more personalized and relevant content to your subscribers, which, in turn, can lead to increased engagement, reduced bounce rates, and ultimately, a more successful email marketing strategy.

Monitor your email bounce rate

Monitoring your email bounce rate is an important aspect of maintaining a healthy and effective email marketing strategy. This metric provides valuable insights into the deliverability of your emails and the overall health of your subscriber list. By consistently tracking your email bounce rate over time, you gain the ability to identify trends and patterns that can help you address potential issues.

One of the most significant red flags that you will want to watch out for is a sudden and significant increase in your bounce rate. A spike like this could signal a problem with either your email list or your email marketing campaigns. For instance, a surge in hard bounces may indicate that you’re sending emails to invalid or outdated addresses, potentially tarnishing your sender reputation. Alternatively, a surge in soft bounces could suggest issues with email content, like overly large file attachments or formatting problems.

To effectively monitor your email bounce rate, you can utilize the reporting features offered by your email marketing platform or enlist the services of a third-party monitoring tool. These tools provide you with real-time data and insights into your email campaign performance, helping you identify and address issues promptly. By staying vigilant and responsive to changes in your bounce rate, you can maintain a positive sender reputation, optimize email deliverability, and ensure the overall success of your email marketing efforts.


An elevated email bounce rate is one of the most common obstacles faced by email marketers. However, with persistence and commitment to list hygiene, there are tangible steps you can take to bring that rate down.

Regularly cleaning your list, implementing double opt-in, and carefully using incentives during sign-up can significantly improve the quality of your subscribers. Authenticating your domain proves your legitimacy as a sender and builds trust.

Furthermore, maintaining consistency, segmenting your audience, and monitoring bounce rate trends are pivotal for optimization. When armed with clean data and insights into subscriber behavior, you can craft relevant emails that resonate.

The multipronged approach outlined here requires diligence, but the payoff is immense. Not only will you safeguard your sender reputation and boost deliverability, but you’ll also enjoy the benefits of a highly engaged, responsive subscriber base. Remember, reducing your bounce rate is a gradual, ongoing endeavor. With a proactive mindset and commitment to continuous improvement, you can realize your email marketing goals.

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