Email Performance Insights: High Bounce Rates

This email had high hard and soft bounce rates when compared to the emails sent in the last 30 days.

A hard bounce is a permanent bounce, meaning an email will not be received by that email address. It may be the result of an unknown user error, which is caused when an email address:

  • Is invalid because it doesn’t exist or contains a typo (e.g., instead of
  • Has been deactivated, such as when someone leaves a company or abandons a free email account.
  • Has blocked your emails from being delivered.

A soft bounce is a temporary bounce, meaning while the delivery of your current message was unsuccessful, you may be able to deliver another email to that address at a later date. It could be bouncing because:

  • Too many people have marked your emails as spam.
  • You’ve been put on a blocklist.
  • The recipient’s mailbox is full.
  • The email account has been temporarily suspended.
  • Unforeseen errors or outages at the receiving mail server.
  • A high number recipients had an out-of-office auto responder turned on. Soft bounces due to auto-responders tend to increase during peak holiday seasons.

Our recommendations for managing high bounce rates: 

  • Actively managing hard bounces is critical. Determine your specific ESP’s practices to ensure a process is in place for all key elements. Do they automatically correct common email address typos? After how many hard bounces will your ESP mark an email address undeliverable? And for which kinds of hard bounce? 
    • Be sure to ask your ESP what they do about soft bounces, too. Do they automatically attempt to resend your message? When and how many times until they give up? At what point do they convert a soft bounce to an undeliverable email address on your suppression list?
  • Set rules for deactivating hard bounces and add them to a suppression list as part of your list hygiene practices. Doing this removes the possibility that you’ll accidentally send to email addresses you know will hard bounce.
    • Also consider creating suppression lists of commonly misspelled email domain names to avoid sending to them in the first place.
    • Similar to hard Bounces, after three soft bounces, it’s time to remove the email from your list. Just make sure the interval in which those bounces happened was not too short, like over the course of a day.  
  • Actively manage the data quality of your list to reduce bounce rates. Repeatedly sending email to addresses that hard bounce can indicate to internet service providers (ISPs) that you have bad list hygiene practices. Data quality is an important metric for ISPs when they’re deciding whether your emails are spam or not and can contribute to your sender reputation.
    • Actively managing your list isn’t just good for deliverability, it’s good for engagement, too. (Which is, in turn, good for deliverability.) When you send to a cleaner list, you’re more likely to be sending to people who want to receive and will engage with your email. That’s a win-win.
    • For more tips on how to improve your deliverability overall, leverage our Ultimate Guide to Email Deliverability.
  • Temporary bounces may not need immediate attention because they usually resolve on their own, but they should be closely monitored. 
  • Read more about managing bounces on our blog.

Email Performance Indicators in Litmus’ Integrated Insights Report (available in a Litmus Enterprise plan) automatically surface emails that are performing well - or not - and what you can learn from them. With visual identifiers and suggested next steps, you can say goodbye to tedious data analysis and focus on driving results. To learn more about how these indicators are calculated, visit the Email Performance Indicators Overview.

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