Have you ever wondered, “My emails are bouncing – what should I do?”

We know it can be frustrating, especially since you spent so much time and resources crafting that email and gathering email addresses just to have it bounced.

But here’s what’s more disappointing: even if you keep the monetary losses aside, your sender reputation score may be undergoing a slow poisoning because of the increasing email bounce rate. As a result, it becomes more challenging for you to achieve high delivery, open, and click-through rates.

But don’t worry, we’ve got you covered. A bounce rate above 2% is a reminder that you must act on your email marketing campaign to improve it.

Before diving in, let’s understand better what an email bounce back is and what type of bounce you experienced. That way, you can better address the problem and execute an effective email marketing strategy.

What is an Email Bounce Back?

An email bounce back happens when your emails cannot be delivered to their intended receivers.

So, the intended recipient’s mail server generates a bounce back message. It’s a notification to let you know that something occurred to disrupt the delivery of your mail.

Yeah, we get it. The term “email bounce back” may sound like a kid’s playground game, but it is what it precisely says. But why is it essential, by the way?

Bounce Back Message: Why is it Important?

The actual text or bounce back message will provide you, the sender, with the information you need to diagnose the email issue.

This is because the message often contains the vital information necessary for technical support so you can verify the exact error reported by the server. Sometimes, it has recommendations on how you can go about fixing the problem.

For instance, it reads, “The email account you tried to reach does not exist. Please try.” Hopefully, after knowing the bounce-back message and troubleshooting it based on the recommendation, it can result in success.

Now, here are the two variations of email bounce-backs:

Soft Bounces vs. Hard Bounces

A soft bounce is a temporary problem, and the bounce-back message typically alerts you of the issue so you can resend your message later.

For example, your recipient has an email Inbox quota, and it has already been exceeded. Other reasons include the recipient mail server being temporarily unavailable.

Meanwhile, a hard bounce can be a permanent problem. This is because the remote mail server is informing you that the email address you’re trying to email does not exist, and it will not work at a later time.

Knowing the difference between hard and soft email bounces will help you better fix the issues that arise, especially in Outlook or Gmail.

Read also: Email Soft Bounce vs Hard Bounce – What’s the Difference?

Should You Try Sending the Bounced Email Again?

If the bounced email has been marked as undeliverable, we suggest you try sending it again after a while, especially if it’s only a soft bounce.

However, if it bounces repeatedly, don’t try sending the email again because it can eventually affect your sender’s reputation.

Now, let’s dive into why your emails bounce back.

7 Common Reasons Why Your Emails Bounce Back

1. Email Address Errors

Sometimes, the reason why your emails are bouncing back is as simple as a misspelled email address or a non-existent email address. And yet, something this easy can be overlooked.

So, if you entered an email address incorrectly, your mail server attempts to deliver your message to another remote server. You will also get that immediate bounce-back error.

Therefore, it is always best to make sure that you proofread the email address because even just a dot can cause an address error. Always fact-check your email list before sending your campaign just to be sure.

2. Message Is Too Large

Attaching large files or sending messages that exceed the limit set by the receiving server is another reason your emails bounce back. This includes the images, text, and headers that you use.

Those may be larger than the actual allowed size of the mailbox, or your message needs to be shorter. It would also be best to send messages in smaller sizes (anything not exceeding 10 MG).

3. Mailbox Full

Occasionally, your email just needs more space to land or is taking up too much space. There are also plenty of email applications that have a specific storage capacity for each user.

For instance, your recipient only has 2GB space for all their emails received and sent, including photos and documents attached.

If that exceeds the limit, the server will no longer allow new emails and will alert the mailbox owner so that they can resolve the issue. If possible, reduce the file size you’re sending if you have to share a document and use an online host like Dropbox.

4. Blocked by the Recipient

Yes, recipients can block emails from the senders they do not want to hear from. If this happens to you, an email bounce back will be generated.

5. Mail Block – Known Spammer

The recipient’s mail server may mistakenly think you are spam or malware and will protect itself by not accepting your content. You have to contact whoever manages the recipient’s email server so you can solve this issue.

Another thing you can do as a preventative measure (which we will discuss in depth later on) is to tighten both your Wi-Fi and email security by regularly updating your passwords and using virus-scanning software.

6. Mail Block – Relay Access Denied

This error happens when the server rejects the sender’s email address. As in, you are entering the “From” address but using your ISP’s mail server instead of Google’s.

The most common reason why this error occurs is that you (the sender) did not authenticate your outgoing mail server because of some misconfiguration.

7. Permanent Failures

The “500 error” means that something is wrong with the mail server, and it will not accept the delivery of your email. However, these kinds of bounce backs still have solutions, despite being called permanent failures, as it may be a technical misunderstanding or a simple case of human error.

The good news is you can also mitigate the bounce backs you receive and make sure your email campaign will run as efficiently and smoothly as possible once again.

Is email deliverability causing you a headache? Turn things around. InboxAlly can help you get back on track! Click here to find out.

7 Fail-Proof Strategies to Decrease Email Bounces


1. Read the Bounce Message First

For you to troubleshoot bounced emails, the first thing that you have to do is to read the error message first. Doing so will give you a clear view of why they blocked your email, such as the mail servers are not responding or a particular recipient’s email address does not exist.

If the bounce-back message is easy to solve, then correct the issue that it highlights. Now, if the message is a bit challenging for you to interpret, it’s likely because of spam-like content.

2. Check for Common Types of Mistakes

Your emails bouncing may not have anything to do with the receiving server but common mistakes, like a typo.

If you mistyped something, the remote Mail Transfer Agent (MTA) that mail servers use will send you a bounceback message with an error code explaining why it did not deliver your email.

We’ve already mentioned this earlier, but we’ll highlight it again: Do check for spelling errors, dots at the end of the email address, space before and after the “@,” and quotation marks.

In addition, if a specific email address repeatedly bounces, it could mean that the recipient’s server is gone for good.

3. Protect Your List

Regarding email bounce rate, you should prioritize your email list.

The first rule is to grow your list through lead generation and gather them organically through paid search, point-of-sale interactions, and opt-in forms on your website.

After gathering these emails, put them to clean and protect your email list. And even if you bought a list, ensure that you run it through an email list cleaning service to avoid spam trap emails. These traps may cause you to have a problem with the remote mail server.

4. Schedule Emails

Your sending practices play an essential role in the number of emails that successfully land in your recipient’s mailbox on time.

In addition, the “sending practices” cover everything from content structure to the email list and sending frequency. Therefore, we suggest you stick to a consistent mailing schedule.

Sending emails on a schedule or based on the engagement patterns of your recipients will let you have a clear roadmap for your email marketing campaign. And both mail servers and customers will expect your emails.

This simple change can go to great lengths in reducing your email bounce rate.

Read also: 15 Email Marketing Best Practices

5. Build Sender Reputation

This step may be easier said than done. However, this is one of the definitive strategies to decrease your email bounce rate.

One way to build your sender reputation is to adopt a sender policy framework (SPF) or an authentication process. This will make sure that no third party will use your email addresses in sending out campaigns.

Another step is to monitor your sender score. Ideally, keep it above 90. Some sender score-checking tools you can try include are:

  • SenderScore.org
  • ReputationAuthority
  • TrustedSource

For your email to be successfully delivered to the recipient server and build your sender reputation, we encourage you to warm your IP address before the campaign.

Need help with an IP warm-up? InboxAlly is the ultimate email deliverability tool for you!

6. Get Off the Blocklist

Sometimes, your emails are bouncing because you have been blocklisted not just by the recipient but the blacklist operator. They don’t block your email address, but they block the email servers.

One warning sign that you’ve been blocklisted is when your ESP tells you about it. Some blocklists that are professionally maintained and are highly regarded by ISPs are Spamhaus, SpamCop, Passive Spam Block List, and Composite Blocking List.

Being listed on one of these platforms could have a significant effect on your email deliverability. So, if you’ve been blocklisted, get off that list as quickly as possible.

7. Give Your Subscribers Control or Use Email Preference Center

An email preference center is a page that gives subscribers a choice in the emails they get from you. These choices include the frequency or content, aside from the option to unsubscribe.

This way, they can opt down on your list rather than entirely opting out. One of the perks of giving your subscribers control is to fuel your personalization efforts and segmentation strategies.

For example, you are a sports retailer. By using an email preference center, you can tailor your message based on the sports that each recipient is interested in.

A caveat to this approach, though, is your email platform, and you (the sender) should handle this kind of request. However, it may be challenging on your part to schedule these preferences and prioritize which email someone will get within their timeframe.

The good thing is you can use preference centers to gather your subscribers’ profile information. This info can include their first and last names, location, gender, job title, birthday, and even shoe size.

That way, you can personalize their experience, and it’s a pretty powerful kind of email marketing.

Get Your Email Deliverability in Tip-Top Shape Today!

Email bounce is only sometimes good news for your campaign and domain reputation. As such, it is vital to clean your list before sending a campaign and follow the other strategies we shared with you above to decrease your email bounce rate.

We hope this short tutorial helped share information about handling email bounces effectively.

If you’ve tried everything and still feel like you need help, you can contact InboxAlly’s support team.

Other related articles: