Email Bounce Rate: What is it and How does it affect your email marketing?

Bounce Rate is what measures the quality of the content you write and the quality of your email list. Make sure to read this article to find out more about bounce rates, and how it affects your email marketing.


Running an email marketing campaign is quite a tedious task. Especially if your email bounce rate is very high. So, what is an email bounce rate? To understand that, let us first look at how the procedure of sending an email works.

When you send an email, the sender’s server and the recipient’s server communicate. The sender’s server seeks permission and the recipient’s server checks the recipient’s email id and passes the email to their inbox. That is how an email delivery system works. In some cases, the recipient’s server will send the email back to sender’s server, which will redirect it back to your inbox. This is known as an email bounce. 

An email bounce rate is the amount of emails that have bounced back to the sender. It is represented in percentages, which is calculated by dividing the total number of emails that have bounced from the total number of emails that were sent. For every bounced email, you will receive a Non Delivery Report (NDR).  This doesn’t mean that an email bounce happens randomly, there are different factor responsible for the two different types of email bounces. 

Table of Contents

  1. Introduction
  2. What are the two types of email bounces?
  3. How does email bounce rate affect other metrics
  4. How to decrease your email bounce rate
  5. Track your email marketing metrics and optimize
  6. Why you should be concerned about bounce rates
  7. Conclusion

What are the Two Types of Email Bounces?

There are primarily two types of email bounces:

  • Hard Bounce
  • Soft Bounce

Hard Bounce

In some cases, you may send a message to an email id that no longer exists or is invalid. That email will bounce back to your inbox with an NDR that reads, “Address not found,” “Invalid Email Address,” or “This email id doesn’t exist." This is a hard bounce. 

If you have mistyped an email id and it bounces back to your inbox, it will fall under hard bounce. It is also applicable for deactivated or deleted email ids because after deactivation, the email ids will be invalid. For a hard bounce, it would be better to re-check the email id or get a confirmation for it from your customer. 

For a hard bounce, it would be impossible for your email server to try and resending it. You would have to write a new email and send to the correct email address. That is not the case with soft bounce. 

Setting up a double opt-in is a great way to avoid hard bounces because of invalid email id's. Double Opt-ins is a great way to increase your email deliverability.

Soft Bounce

Unlike hard bounce, soft bounce is temporary. Soft Bounce mainly happens when the recipient’s inbox is full, if the recipient’s email server is offline, or if the recipient server is down. However, emails with very long message bodies may also cause a soft bounce. 

As soft bounce is temporary, you may try resending that email after it has bounced. In case your message body is too long, you may reduce the content of the email and resend it. For full inboxes or offline email servers, resending after 30 minutes or an hour usually solves the problem.

Sometimes, spam filters may also directly send your emails into a user's spam folder. You can avoid this by better optimizing your content and not using spam words. Reducing Soft Bounce is also necessary to increase your email deliverability.

High bounce rates aren’t healthy in email marketing and may cause problems for your account. Email bounce rates have a direct impact on the metrics. 

How does Email Bounce Rate affect other Metrics?

Emails Bounce Rates can jeopardize your email marketing campaigns. If your email bounce rate is very high that overshadows your organization’s relationship with useful contacts. Take this scenario as an example; you have to run a campaign for “No Shave November” movement. Hence, you created all the content that you needed, managed all the email lists, and started with the campaign. 

As it turned out, many of the emails bounced back to our inbox. If you don’t manage these lists and keep sharing your emails, it will reflect on the email bounce rates at the end of the month. If this persists for a period of time then the email servers that are monitoring your account will either block or suspend it. 

In some cases, high email bounce rates may even get your account blacklisted. Thus, leaving you with no other option but to create a new email id, a new list, a new campaign, and new content for your campaign. This is why it is so important to manage your lists regularly. If you manage your lists then you won’t have to deal with the possibility of getting bounce emails. This also reduces your chances of being blocked, suspended, or blacklisted. 

How to Decrease you Bounce Rate? 

Decreasing your bounce rates may not be as difficult as you think. There are simple steps you may follow to decrease your email bounce rate.

  • Understanding the Cause: Everything in this world is a cause and an affect. To understand the bounce rate, you must first analyze the cause of the bounce rate. As there are mainly two types of bounces, the solutions for them will vary. For example, if it were a hard bounce then we would recommend updating the correct email id or removing the invalid email id from your list. 
  • Clean up your Lists: In a campaign, you may share about 20 emails and about seven of them may bounce back to you. It is important to go back to the list of contacts you had shared the messages to and delete the ones that bounced. This will give you more room to add more contacts. At the same time, it will help you minimize your email bounce rates. Keep in mind that it is only applicable for hard bounce. For soft bounce, we would recommend trying later as you would still be able to send the email to the customer.
  • Automatic Bounce Handling: There are some automatic bounce handling software and applications to tackle the email bounce problem. Mailgun has one that you may use for your campaigns. Similarly, there are some other service providers like Postmark and WPNewsman. They help to churn out the email ids according to the bounce rates. You may even customize to delete bounced email ids after every campaign. This is a good tool to reduce the risk of high bounce rates. 
  • Manual Bounce Handling: If you have your own email server and need to reduce you high bounce rates, you may do so. All you have to do is check the email contact list and delete the ones that have bounced emails. For manual bounce handling, we wouldn’t suggest filtering after every campaign. Especially, in case of soft bounces, as they are easier to solve. 
  • Validation: Validating the email address, you are sending the email to, is a good way to avoid an email bounce. This is specifically useful against hard bounce. Hard bounces will not occur if the email id is valid and you won’t have to think about managing your lists as the lists would already be validated. Although for risk aversion, we would still recommend managing your lists. 
  • Opt-ins for Email Marketing: Opt-in is a great tool that is used on a regular basis for email marketing. This will save you the time you would take to validate your lists. Opt-ins also help in customer engagement, as the customer would be opting-in to the campaign with a valid email id. 
  • Spam Score: A good spam score will make sure that your email isn’t stuck in the spam emails. A good amount of marketing emails is often stuck in the spam box. A decent spam score may help you avoid this scenario. The recipient server may also bounce some spam emails back to your inbox. This is why, it is always important to check the spam score. 
  • Monitor Bounce Rates: How many emails bounced from your last campaign? It is important to monitor those statistics. Monitoring bounce rates will help you understand what your campaign needs, the cause for the bounces, and you will be able to figure out how to avoid them. In case the bounce rate is very high, you might have to take some desperate measures for these desperate times. The servers will target a campaign with a very high bounce rate. Your account will be suspended before you could understand the entire issue and solve it. This is where you need to pause. 
  • Stop and fix: Even after trying everything, if your bounce rate is higher than 5% then it is better to stop your campaign. The longer you continue you are likely to face more bounce rates. Instead stopping the problem to fix the issue is a better strategy. It will give you time to rethink the problem and come up with a better resolution. You may even start over a new campaign after cleaning up your lists. We highly recommend this strategy as it can avoid email bounce rate risks and prevent any negative impact on your campaign. 

As we have already spoken about monitoring and tracking bounce rates, it is important we explain how to track your metrics. 

Track your Email Marketing Metrics and Optimize 

There are many ways to track your metrics and optimize your campaign. There are three major metrics you need to check:

  • Open Rates
  • Click Through Rates (CTR)
  • Unsubscribes

Open Rates

The open rate of your email is calculated as a percentage, after dividing the number of emails opened by the number of emails sent. This percentage will vary from campaign to campaign. Open rates are a good indication on how your customer is finding your campaign. If the content is interesting then you will have a higher open rate, which is a positive sign for your campaign. However, the recipient must allow the images of your campaign to load for it to be considered valid. Compared to CTR, open rates aren’t considered to be as reliable, as opening an email and reading it doesn’t mean that they will be likely to warm up to you as a lead. 

By subtracting the open rates from the bounce rates, you may be able to understand the progress of your campaign. A good campaign would have a better open rate than bounce rate. Once again, it is important to understand that it is not the absolute indication of the campaigns success. For that, you would have to look at the CTR of your campaign. Open rates help to understand how engaging your content is attract the customer’s attention. Understanding this metric is the first step to optimizing your campaign. 

Based on it, you may make changes to the content of your campaign. A catchy subject is more likely to get the customer’s attention and make them open the email. It is important to have interesting content and not solely rely on images. You have to convince the customer to load the images. So, something short but interesting should get them to do that. We would also recommend buttons with backlinks along with your images because that will help you with the CTR. Check out this article to learn more about Open Rates and How to Optimize it.

MuxEmail automatically tracks all metrics such as Open Rates, Click Rates, Unsubscribe Rates and displays them in broadcast report for each broadcast.

MuEmail Broadcast Report

Click Through Rate (CTR)

As far as tracking your campaign and optimizing it is concerned, CTR is the most reliable metric. To help you understand the context, here is an example:

After a long and tried day at an office, you may have received a thousand emails. You are likely to simply scroll through them or simply mark them to read later. For emails that have interesting subject lines, you may open the email and load the image. You will not proceed further than that. You are more likely to stop there. Mainly because you don’t want to engage too much. This is why Open Rates are not as reliable as CTR.

When a customer open your email and clicks on one of the buttons that lead back to a landing page or your website, an entry is generated under CTR. This is when you know that you have a chance of dropping the customer into the marketing funnel. In simple terms, a CTR is the amount of times a customer has clicked on the link, image, or button in the email divided by the number of emails opened. 

To optimize your CTR, make more visually appealing images. Having buttons that represent a Call-to-Action and highlight it properly also helps to increase your CTR. If you do these things properly, your email will come across as engaging and you would be able to convince more customers to click on the links, images, or buttons on your email. The content is the key in email marketing and this is why, optimizing it is very important. Check out this article to learn Everything about Click Rates.

If your email is not engaging enough for the customer, they might find it annoying and they may consider unsubscribing to your campaign. 


You had the time to go through your emails, you tried filtering the lists, and you managed everything. However, the content wasn’t something that you cared about. This could mean that the customer may find your content boring and they might unsubscribe to your campaign. In such a scenario, they will no longer receive any emails from you. 

This is why the content becomes foremost important when it comes to customer engagement. A good spam proof content for your email is less likely to be unsubscribed. As such, your customers are more likely to see it and click on the images, buttons, or the links. 

In terms of bounce rates, your open rates and CTR may play an important part. As a high bounce rate means, your customers aren’t likely to have opened your email. This would bring down the open rate of your campaign. The same could be said for your CTR, as they could have never received your message and wouldn’t have clicked on anything on the email. Check out this article to know more about Unsubscribe Rate and How to reduce it.

This is where being able to manage your lists for the campaign takes priority. Now, let’s understand the importance of tracking bounce rates. 

Why you should be concerned about Bounce Rates?

To keep this simple and easy, bounce rates help to track the quality of leads for each campaign. A campaign with good leads who have provided correct details is less likely to have hard bounce emails. This would mean that the lead is more likely to warm up to you. Hence, managing your contact lists and cleaning them up from time to time becomes very important. 

Well, that was all that we had to share about Email Bounce Rates. It is time to look back at the some of the most important points in the article:

  • Email Bounce Rates is calculated in percentages just like CTR and Open Rate. 
  • For every bounced email, you will receive a Non Delivery Report (NDR).  
  • There are primarily two types of email bounces, soft bounce and hard bounce. 
  • Soft Bounces are temporary failures and can be dealt with by resending the email after a certain duration. 
  • Hard Bounces are permanent and may be the cause of an invalid email id. 
  • A high bounce rate could not cause problems for your email campaign but also get your account permanently suspended, blacklisted, or blocked. 
  • To avoid getting a high bounce rate, it is important to manage and clean up your email delivery list or contact list during the duration of the campaign. 
  • Within the duration of the campaign, if the bounce rate were very high it would be better to stop the campaign and focus on fixing it before continuing with it again. 
  • A high bounce rate has a negative impact on the Open Rate and Click Through Rate (CTR) of an Email Marketing Campaign. 


Bounce Rate is what measures the quality of the content you write and the quality of your email list. A high bounce rate means that either represents spammy content or a lot of invalid and inactive emails. It is important to track Bounce Rate regularly and make sure that it is low as a high bounce rate can either get your Amazon SES account paused or even worse, banned.

I hope this article gave you a little insight on what bounce rates are, how to optimize your content to reduce bounce rates and how bounce rates affect other marketing metrics.

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