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It’s a valid email address so why did it bounce?

By Fiona Ness on Wed 18 December 2013 in Email Marketing

I’ve heard this question a lot, not just from customers but at conferences and seminars. 

So, I thought I’d give you an idea of why this happens and how you can cleanse your bounce data.

Before I start I just want to give you a quick overview of what actually happens when an email bounces. If you already know, or aren’t really bothered and just want to know how to fix it, feel free to skip this paragraph.

When the email initially bounces, you get an SMTP reply, this basically tells you why the email bounced, for example, it might have been rejected by the server. If you aren’t using an email marketing platform (like ProspectSoft eMail Marketing) you might want to take a look at these replies, but luckily if you are using email marketing it is likely that this will check the replies for you! This means your replies will be categorised into hard and soft bounces.

Now that we have that out of the way, there are a couple of reasons why your valid email addresses still bounce…

Scenario 1: Your email is being denied by a firewall or SPAM filter

I know we talk about SPAM filters a lot, but they rule the roost when it comes to email marketing so you need to be on the right side of them.

It is possible that your emails are registered as bounced when in actual fact a SPAM filter has blocked your email. So not only are your valid email addresses registering as bounces, but because you’re being told it bounced it could be a long time before you realise that actually a SPAM filter got in the way.

If you do notice this happening, a good way to decide whether it’s your email content or there is actually something wrong with the recipients email is find an excuse to send them a personal email. If it gets through, you know your content is the problem, if not, it’s them not you.

Scenario 2: Your IP address has been blacklisted

A lot of email marketing platforms work on rotating IP addresses or a similar system so you can always be sure the one you are sending from will be clean. However, if you’re not using an email marketing platform you should definitely look into it. I’m sure you’ve heard this before, but I can’t stress enough how serious getting blacklisted is. Not only does it put a stop to your email marketing, but if you’re sending from your business IP you will soon see the knock on effect.

Those are the scenarios, so what can you do?

I know in the past we’ve told you not to do this, but if you know an email address is valid but for some reason has bounced, just unbounce them. Yes, that’s right I’m telling you to resend to people that have previously bounced. Don’t get me wrong, you still shouldn’t do this on a regular basis, but it can be done.

If you’re like us, you probably send high volumes of emails so it can be hard to identify whether valid email addresses have bounced and why.

We are now offering an email bounce reset script. Running this is usually chargeable but for today only we’re giving it to existing eMail Marketing customers for free. Speak to our Account Management Team for more information about this.