Email Bounce Rate Essentials: How it’s Calculated

If you are working in the marketing industry, then you undoubtedly heard someone mentioning the term bounce rate. It is a fairly common phrase that is present in just about any form of digital marketing. Typically, the term is used in website analytics, but here’s the thing, it can actually be applied to email too so it is called email bounce rate

Indeed, not many know about this application, and this is precisely why we are here. Today we will be talking about the bounce rate in general, how you can measure it, and which results you can consider good. And since email as a channel can be quite lucrative, we’ll also be covering some tactics you can use to reduce the email bounce rate.

We want this piece to be the de facto starting guide for everyone, so if you see some basic stuff, don’t be discouraged and keep reading as there are some things inside you don’t want to miss. Alright, now that we set some expectations, let’s dive into the world of email bouncing and check out how to calculate email bounce rate.

What is Email Bounce Rate?

There are many definitions as to what the email bounce backs in email marketing is, but we’ve come to the conclusion that the following one is the most descriptive:

Email Bounce - occurs when emails cannot be delivered due to a server incompatibility or custom requirements posed by the platform. Typically, the sent message is returned to the sender with an error code that can be read to determine the cause.”

Now, why is this bad for marketing? Well, all your efforts to deliver promotions, persuasion, and customer retention tactics are becoming impossible with bounced emails. You simply cannot employ any kind of marketing as everything returns to you. To make things even harder on a marketer, typically, there are two types of email bounces for email marketing. Namely, soft and hard ones.

What is a "Soft bounce email"?

Soft Bounce Rate - These errors are less likely to occur, but once they happen, it either means the email is returned due to the inbox being full or the email box being offline, which is again, highly unlikely as most inboxes use cloud tech. This situation is usually temporary and may be also caused by too large email files, however, most email service providers will continue to deliver the letter over a certain period of time.

What is a "Hard bounce email"?

Hard Bounce Rate - This type of email marketing bounce rate often means that you’ve input the invalid addresses in the recipient form. Usually, this error is often a result of the recipient company has changed addresses in the mailing list or that recipient no longer works there. Lastly, your address can be blocked and your domain blacklisted. Those situations are usually permanent, which means you need to perform some actions to change the error and find valid email addresses.

In both cases, if your message doesn’t land, stop wasting time and effort and start evaluating your addresses.

How to Calculate Bounce Rate Emails?

While there is no definitive way to measure the impact of poor bounce rates, there’s one thing you can do to calculate email bounce rates. And that one way is to go address by address to see how many messages you send and how much time you spend generating these lists. While tedious, it will give you a good idea as to how many people are not getting your messages. Here’s a formula that you can use to calculate your email deliverability:

(# of bounces* / # of delivered emails) x 100 = your email bounce rate

Many notes that if you have an acceptable email bounce rate of roughly 10% of non-working addresses, you are in the green, but if that rate goes higher, popular email vendors might blacklist you, which is a death sentence for all your email efforts. That is why it’s essential to aim for this acceptable bounce rate.

So how do you fix high bounce rates? Easy (depending on what method you pick), by working on your email address list, which brings us to the next section.

How to Fix Your Email Bounce Rate?

Generally speaking, there’s little you can do to fix existing issues. However, that doesn’t mean that all is over, and you should stop working on your email marketing campaigns. In fact, that is the exact opposite. Here are two things you must do to address your bounce rate email: one, review your email address list, two employ a tracking system. Let’s talk about each in detail.

Clean your email address list

So, first things first, you need to take good care of your email list to make things work in the foreseeable future. As we said, you need to clean up your email list but keep in mind that you need to remove only frozen leads, not the ones that are cold. In other words, make sure you exclude those leads that don’t want to work with you.

This will not only save you some costs but will improve metrics, let alone open new opportunities. Your sender reputation is something that you need to maintain, so removing non-responders might also be a good idea.

Finally, make sure that you are sending emails regularly but not spammy, and make sure that you have a double opt-in program in place (it will help you eliminate typos). Email verification is vital as well because you definitely don’t want to ruin your sending reputation with illiterate emails.

Avoid sending spam emails

Emails falling into the spam section is a nightmare of all marketers, so knowledge is a virtue when it comes to creating a relevant email. Try to exclude the phrases in your emails that are triggers for email service provider's spam filters to throw away your message to a commonly hated junk folder.

Use short email templates and simple graphic elements in your letters

Send emails with a lack of large images and detailed graphic elements. It is possible to create a stylish yet simple email template. As a result, your message will more likely reach the goal destination even if the receiver's inbox is almost filled.

Ask your subscribers about the changes

It is a great practice to ask your clients or prospects about their workplace changes. You can perform it during the communication by phone, chat, or video call. Without any doubt, It helps to update invalid addresses and identify feature changes.

Employ a Tracking System

Now, this might be the solution everyone is willing to pay for; it will solve a ton of problems. Take, for instance, our own Email Tracking app. Some of our users might already know this, but you can keep tabs on various metrics, including things such as message email delivery status, see who might be willing to get a follow-up, identify what type of messages your email list engages the most.

Email Bounce Rate Internal Note

An internal message with the info about opened email

But customer engagement isn’t the only feature this tool has on offer. If you send a lot of time-dependent emails, the system can remind you about follow-ups, and if you need automatic ticket creation/update, it can do that as well. Finally, our Email Tracking can see what macros work best and who in your company writes the most compelling, engaging messages.

Such systems will help you keep your messaging efforts much more streamlined, as well as more successful. You get response data that you can use to tailor your wording, your presentation, and much more. And if you are afraid that you might be violating some regulation, worry not as the Email Tracking system is GDPR compliant.

Most importantly, the app will track the average email bounce rate and automatically create reports based on this info. Yes, that’s just what you need if you’re reading this article! Thus, you will spend minimum time and effort for completing the task.

How Email Tracking integration tracks the average email bounce rate?

This passage is mainly for Email Tracking for Zendesk users but if you're just thinking about installing the app, it may be useful for you as well. The principle which we use for calculating the average bounce rate is a little bit different from the one from above. The result which is displayed on the Reports page is calculated by the number of opened emails divided by the overall number of emails sent from the app.

Also, there are several other email marketing metrics displayed in Email Tracking. Read the statistics page explanation to learn more about their use cases.

Email Bounce Rate Email Tracking

Email Tracking reports page

On the screenshot above, you can see the 33% average bounce rate. This is the great index of email open rate. Why? Because it means that the user has sent 100 emails and only 33 of them weren't even opened. Speaking in general, a bounce rate in the range of 26 to 40 percent is excellent, 41 to 55 percent is an average result, and 56 to 70 percent is higher than average, but may not be cause for alarm depending on the email content. Anything over 70 percent is disappointing, so that's when you have to take the bull by the horns and see why you have such poor email deliverability rates. Speaking of which, in Email Tracking, it's not necessary that your recipients didn't get the message due to server issues.

Now, let's take a look at what are the other issues recipients don't read your emails and how to fix them.

Why do your emails have low open rates?

So, you've checked the ins and outs of your domain, server, and other technical aspects, but your emails still have a high bounce rate. Here's a list of the common reasons why you can face this issue:

  • The subject line is not engaging enough. Subject lines are the face of emails and the first thing that is visible in the inbox. A good subject line can make a drastic change to the possibility of an email being open. At the same time, a dull subject line can decrease your email opens implying that its body also is not interesting.
  • Delivery time. Time is key and its influence on how many people open the email is immense. If you send an email on the weekend or after business hours, it will be much less likely to reach the recipients, at least not right away. The best time to send an email is Tuesday morning. Your contact will finish catching up with important emails from the weekend on Monday and will get around to fresh mail.
  • Age of your contact list. Check if the list you are sending campaigns to is not old or outdated. Chances are some contacts have moved on to newer email addresses. You can't do much in this case, so make sure you stay in regular contact with your current subscribers to ensure they will write down their new address with your company or business.
  • The content isn’t personalized – Adding the recipient’s name gives a personal touch to the email and the email does not look like automatically generated spam.
  • Non-recognizable “from” name – A constant “from” name helps your customers remember and recognize your emails. Frequent changes in the “from” name will lose their credibility and open a new perspective to end up in the spam folder.

A Small Tip

These are just the key reasons why recipients may ignore your emails. You can always use the services like Email Deliverability Tester to view where each of your emails lands: Primary, Promotions, or Spam folders in the recipient's inbox. That's what we truly recommend and what we put into practice ourselves, especially with mass email campaigns.

Final Notes

And there you have it. Email bounce rate is something you want to keep an eye for if you plan on deploying email marketing strategies with a low percentage of emails bounced. There’s little you can do about emails that are hard-bounced, but you can improve your position in the future with the tips we’ve shared for you as an email sender. And if you find Email Tracking an attractive system, be sure you get the 7-day trial, but that is all from us. Thanks for dropping by, and we’ll see you in our next post.

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