Email Bounce Rate: How to tackle soft and hard bounces?

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Email Bounce Rate How to tackle soft and hard bounces

Maintaining a healthy deliverability is essential for a successful email marketing strategy. From spam rates to unsubscribe rates, marketing automation platforms provide helpful metrics to assess your email marketing situation. This time, we’ll walk you through one of the most important deliverability indicators by giving you our best tips to tackle soft and hard bounces in email marketing and keep your bounce rates to a minimum. 


1. What are bounces?

A bounce is a term we use in email marketing to describe an email that was not delivered or that was rejected by the recipient’s inbox service provider. 

We can identify two different types of bounces: soft and hard bounces. 

  • Soft bounces are caused by a temporary reason. That means, your email could bounce from your subscriber inbox today, but they could receive future campaigns once the issue is done. Some of the reasons for soft bounces are:
    • There’s a problem with the email server or it’s in maintenance 
    • Your recipient’s inbox is full, so there’s no space for your email
    • Your subscriber has enabled the vacation or auto-reply setting in their emails. 
  • Hard bounces occur when an email cannot be delivered due a permanent cause. That means, if your email bounced once for your subscriber for one of the following reasons, you won’t be able to reach them (ever):
    • Misspelled or unexistent email addresses
    • Being blocked by the recipient


2. Why bounces are relevant?

It is essential to constantly monitor your bounces. Whether high or low, your bounce rate will impact one way or your deliverability and sender reputation. If you have too many bounces, your sender’s reputation will be negatively affected and inbox service providers will stop sending your emails to the main inbox of your subscribers, and will start sending them to their spam folder instead. 

There is no way you can change the bounces you already received, but you can take positive measures in order to prevent your bounce rate to continue growing and starting to become a problem. But, where do we draw the line? 

According to a Hubspot study, the average hard bounce rate across each industry is 0.63%. However, if you want to have a scale to measure how healthy your bounce rate actually is, here at Hustler Marketing we use Klaviyo Benchmarks as our most treasured table of reference. As you can see, your bounce rate is the healthiest when it’s less than 0.4%. 

Klaviyo Email Marketing Benchmarks

3. How to monitor bounce rates?

First of all, monitoring is everything. Make sure you are frequently checking your bounces and bounce rates. There are a few ways you can do so in Klaviyo.

3.a. Suppressed profiles tab

Go to your profiles tab and click on Suppressed Profiles.

How to find bounces in the supressed profiles tab

There you can choose to show the profiles that have been suppressed for specific reasons, including bounces. This will allow you to see all the profiles that have been suppressed by Klaviyo because of a hard bounce or 7 consecutive soft bounces. You can see their names, emails, and the date they bounced. 

Monitor soft and hard bounces

3.b. Bounce segments

You can create segments to identify soft and hard bounces in a specific timeframe by using the following definitions. 

Soft bounces segment

3.c. Analytics Tab

If you want to see historical data of your bounce rate to identify spikes on that specific metric, you can do so through the analytics tab. 

Just click on Dashboard, and then click on “Analytics”. You can create a new card to see both soft and hard-bounced emails or your bounce rate in general.

email deliverability metrics hard bounces

3.d. Campaign Analytics and Subscribers’ Profiles

After you send a new email, you can also click on your campaign’s analytics. You’ll find a report similar to this one, where you can see your bounce rate and even view the profiles that bounced. 

email campaign deliverability metrics

Once you click on View Bounces, you’ll get a list of all the people that bounced. You can click in each email to open your subscribers’ profiles. Once you are on the profile page, configure the page to see all activity related to bounces.

In this case, you can see this subscriber has bounced two times. These are soft bounces. If the subscriber would have bounced once, they wouldn’t have received a second email. 

It’s a good idea to do this process regularly, after some time you’ll begin to see a trend in the average number of soft bounces before people start receiving emails again. This will give you a good idea of how to optimize your deliverability strategy by creating “Frequently Bounced” segments and excluding them from your campaigns. 

4. How to tackle soft and hard bounces?

Most email marketing automation platforms handle some way soft and hard bounces. If you are using Klaviyo, you should know that the platform will immediately suppress from your list profile who have hard-bounced once. That means you won’t be able to send emails to those profiles anymore. However, if your subscriber has soft bounced you will still be able to email them. Unless they have soft-bounced seven consecutive times. In that case, Klaviyo will also suppress them from your email list. 

If your bounce rate is proficient, then letting Klaviyo handle the situation works fine. But, if you’re seeing a spike in bounce rates, then you can (and should) start thinking about taking on the load yourself to make sure it doesn’t become a problem. Here are some things you can do to tackle soft and hard bounces. 

4.1. Make sure you are collecting subscribers compliantly 

Buying email lists from third parties is not a good idea. When you are not the one collecting your subscribers directly, you take the risk of acquiring a bunch of profiles that may as well never heard of you and therefore have no interest in doing so now or that don’t actually exist. When you send them an email, your spam, unsubscribe and bounce rates will certainly be higher than expected. 

When building up your list, make sure you are doing so in a compliant way. You can use pop-ups, landing pages, or flyouts to get new subscribers. Just make sure people know what they are signing up for.

4.2. Clean your email list

It is important you make sure the people you are emailing are people that can provide value to your brand, but also people you can provide value to. Therefore, you should implement list hygiene processes that allow you to suppress from your list people that:

  • Signed up with a secondary address just to get your pop-up incentive and then faded away and stopped interacting with your emails altogether. Create a segment with people that have received a considerable amount of emails or that have been subscribed for a considerable amount of time and that have opened an email just once. 
  • Have opened your emails zero times and have placed zero orders overall time. Make sure these are profiles that have been receiving emails on a regular basis. If they have just recently subscribed, then of course they may haven’t opened an email or placed an order yet.
  • Have marked your emails as spam. If they did that once, they may do it again. So it’s better to stay on the safe side. 

If you want more list hygiene tips, check this article on how a clean sending list can make all the difference for your email marketing strategy.

4.3.Remove soft bounces on a regular basis

You can also create a “Frequent Soft Bounces” segment in order to identify profiles that have bounced multiple times, but less than 7 (which is the number of soft bounces Klaviyo uses as a limit to keep people on your list). Depending on your email sending behavior, 7 soft bounces may not be the ideal limit. When creating this new segment, and deleting it recurringly from your list, you make sure your list is up to date as possible and your bounce rates remain low. 

To create the segment you just need to use the following definition:

Soft bounces segment

Once the segment is ready, go to Account Settings → Profile Maintenance and choose the segment you just created to remove all its profiles from your email marketing list. 

How to delete soft and hard bounces


Have trouble with bounce rates and email deliverability? 

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