May 6, 2010

Bounce Rate


Hostway Team

By Monique Martin

Even the best email campaign won’t be a success if your bounce rates are high. Your creative design, clever copy and enticing call to action are meaningless if people aren’t even getting your emails. There are a few things you can do to reduce your bounce rate.

What Is a Bounce Rate?

Bounces are emails that don’t arrive at their destination. They can be hard (an invalid email address) or soft (a temporary issue like a full inbox). Most mailer services will try a few times to deliver a soft bounce. If it never makes it, it becomes a hard bounce.

Your bounce rate is simply the percentage of emails in your campaign that bounced back as undeliverable.

Garbage in, Garbage out

The first step in reducing your bounce rate is managing your lists and making it as easy as possible for your subscribers to update their information.

  • Clean your lists. Whether you go through your email lists manually looking for typos and incorrectly formatted emails or use a list hygiene service, it’s important to keep your lists clean and up to date. Remove repeat bouncers.
  • Confirm email address. When people initially sign-up send them a confirmation email. That way you can follow-up immediately if you have bad data and get the issue taken care of from the get-go.
  • Follow up. If you realize that you have a bad email address, send a postcard or call to get the proper info.
  • Subscription/Account management. People move, change service providers and leave jobs. Make it easy for them to change their information and update their email address.
  • Update reminders. Make it easy for users to update their information during checkout or other onsite activities.

Blacklists Are Bad

Blacklists (SpamCop, SpamHaus) are lists of email senders (domains and IP addresses) that have sent unsolicited email and are deemed to be spammers. If enough of your email recipients mark you as spam, you can, unfortunately, make the list and your emails will bounce. Here are a few tips to help keep you off the blacklist and keep your bounce rate low.

  • Use email marketing best practices. CAN-SPAM has a series of guidelines that every email marketer should follow.
  • Remove spam trap email addresses. Email addresses that start with abuse@ or nospam@ are sometimes added maliciously to your email list. Remove them.
  • Use a reputable email service/host. A reliable service will deliver your emails according to the proper protocol and maintain a good working relationship with ISPs.

Monitor your bounce rates and look for any upswings. The more quickly you act, the better. Taking steps now to reduce your bounce rate can save you considerable heartache in the future.

About the Author

Monique Martin served as chief operating officer for a successful online insurance marketing firm for five years.

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