Tips to help reduce email bounces

Though email marketing is free or inexpensive, it’s always a good idea to reduce the number of “email bounces” – emails that, for one reason or another, can’t be delivered. Not only is it a waste of money if you keep sending emails that bounce, some email marketing services, such as MailChimp, will actually penalize you if you regularly have a high bounce rate on your marketing campaigns. Here are some tips to help reduce email bounces and make sure your message is delivered.

The first tip is that you should cleanse your list regularly. It’s not uncommon for people to make typos when they sign up to an email list. The email service you use should let you see the email addresses that are bouncing – if you spot typos, try to find alternative addresses if possible, and delete the bouncing ones. For example, if someone has added themselves as bobjones@gmail.com the changes are Bob meant gmail.com – you can add him under that address and delete the bouncing one.

Often people switch email addresses – this happens especially where one ISP buys out or merges with another, and takes on a different domain name. If you spot a lot of similar email addresses are bouncing, that could be the problem.

Something that makes it really easy for people to manage their own account is to include a subscription management link in every email. This means that customers will be prompted to update their own information if they change their primary email address or don’t wish to hear from you any more.

It’s also worth occasionally confirming that email addresses are working. Of course if you’re using a double opt-in system then people need to confirm receipt of an email to be put on the list, but by sending out an email now and then asking people to confirm they still want to receive your newsletters and including a confirmation link you can reduce bounces – and also lower the risk of people reporting you for spam.

Sometimes email addresses can be blacklisted – this often happens when someone’s email or domain name has been hacked and used by spammers. In these cases people often don’t know there’s a problem. If an address you know should be working is bouncing, and you have another means of contacting the person, give them a call and let them know – you’ll be doing them a favour if they’ve been hacked.

You also need to be aware of spam filters and the kinds of words that many email servers classify as spam. If you’re sending out emails with spammy words in the subject line your emails might be blocked and this could look like the receiving accounts are bouncing.

Be aware of the difference between soft and hard bounces. Soft bounces can happen because an ISP server is down, or a mailbox is full – once the problem has been fixed at the receiver’s end you should be able to resume sending email again. Hard bounces, though, are normally permanent issues – for example, someone has left their place of work and their email account has been terminated. There’s unlikely to be a resolution so you might as well delete the address.

For more help with email marketing and autoresponders have a look at our packages, which start at just £20 a month for up to 500 addresess and unlimited emails, or give us a call on 01793 608777.

Image: Patchareeya99 / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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