The difference between hard and soft bounces
When an email bounces, it means that it couldn’t be successfully delivered to the recipient. As a result, the email will “bounce back” to the sender. Bounced emails can be either hard or soft.
In this article, we’ll explain the difference between hard and soft bounces, why they occur and what you can do to avoid them.
A hard bounce signifies that the recipient address can’t receive emails for a permanent reason. Hard bounces are automatically added to your suppression list.
Here are some of the most common reasons an email will hard bounce:
The email address doesn't exist - The inbox is either no longer active or never has been (the email have been submitted with a typo, for example, gmal.com instead of gmail.com)
The recipient's server is blocking the email - Recipients using business, educational or government email addresses often have much stricter spam filter settings which can result in emails hard bouncing.
A soft bounce refers to an email that reaches your recipient's mail server but bounces back undelivered before reaching the inbox. A soft bounce is a temporary deliverability issue, as opposed to a hard bounce, which is permanent.
Some possible reasons for soft bounces may be:
The recipient's mailbox is full - Any further attempts to send emails will result in soft bounces
Server timeout - The recipient's server may be under maintenance or temporarily unavailable for other reasons
The email is too large - Some inboxes may disallow emails with attachments above a specific size
The email may be blocked due to the content - This may happen due to the receiving server's anti-spam or anti-virus filters
How to reduce email bounces
Bounced emails (particularly hard bounces) can be extremely damaging to your reputation as a sender. To maintain a healthy sender reputation, bounces should be avoided at all costs. Some things you can do to avoid email bounces include:
Clean your email list with an email validation tool
Enable double opt-in wherever possible
Include a reCAPTCHA checkbox and an additional “confirm email address” field in forms to prevent invalid submissions
Remove hard bounces immediately from your contact list
On top of making sure your emails aren’t being sent to undeliverable addresses, optimize your emails to avoid spam filters. You can do that by using images and links sparingly and avoiding spam-like phrases such as:
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