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The Difference Between Hard and Soft Email Bounces

The Difference Between Hard and Soft Email Bounces

So, you’ve put together a great digital newsletter and send it out on the scheduled date, just like you do every week. It’s filled with the compelling content that your audience expects from your brand, and you're feeling primed for success.

When parsing through the newsletter’s analytics, however, you see that four emails have bounced. Upon closer inspection, you find that two hit as “hard” bounces while the other two came back as “soft” bounces. Here’s an introduction into understanding the difference between the two, as inspired by MailChimp:

Hard Bounces

Hard bounces are a hard and fast rejection. There are a number of reasons why an address rejected your email, but it’s typically not personal and is always permanent. The email domain may not exist or the user might have closed it down forever. But, more rarely, there are some reasons why valid email address return a hard bounce. Maybe the subscribers made the enormous mistake of unsubscribing from your brilliant newsletter and is trying to resubscribe as you read this (Ya never know!).

Soft Bounces

Software like MailChimp will try to redeliver an email over the course of three days when it comes back as a soft bounce, an email with a delivery issue instead of a rejection. In this case, the recipient’s inbox might be full or the email might be too large for delivery. It deserves a second chance, right? A soft bounce will be written off as a hard bounce when it is rejected across multiple campaigns, meaning that you won’t be able to use it in the future.

With these concepts in mind, it’s important for digital marketers to prune their email lists accordingly or allow mail delivery services to make the distinction and “think” for the marketer. Without this kind of action, your email list will become unhealthy and your domain could be put at risk.

If this all sounds a little complicated and you’d like some support, get in touch with the Geek Team! We'd love to help.

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Jason Finn

Founder & Chief Geek

Jason has nearly 20 years of consulting experience, predominantly in the technology space. Most recently he was the COO and Director of Technology for Rich Casto & Company, a national training and consulting organization in the real estate industry.
As a consultant for IBM, PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP, and Envision Consulting Group (now IMS Health), Jason has served clients of all sizes, including Big Pharma, Fortune 500, and Global 1000 companies:

  • Allstate Insurance Company
  • AOL (America Online)
  • Astellas Pharmaceuticals
  • Eli Lilly and Company
  • Ford Motor Credit
  • Wockhardt USA (formerly Morton Grove Pharmaceuticals)
  • Norwich Union
  • PNC Bank
  • Reynolds and Reynolds

Sarunas Budrikas

Creative Director

Sarunas is a web design and development expert with hundreds of successful projects in his portfolio. He is passionate about delivering extraordinary user experiences for every client and consistently goes above and beyond everyone’s expectations. As an SEO expert and strategist, he can optimize your website, or app, to get the most out of it, day in and day out. Sarunas holds a degree in Electrical Engineering from Kaunas Technology University, in Lithuania. Sarunas now lives in Chicago, and calls it home.

Alexandra Olsavsky

Client Experience Specialist

Alex specializes in content generation and social media promotion for Geek | Chicago clients, helping to solidify their presence in the online community. This includes blog writing, graphic design, co-ordination and design of weekly newsletters, and active engagement on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and LinkedIn. Outside of Geek, Alex is a classically-trained soprano who professionally performs around the city of Chicago (most recently with the Chicago Baroque Band, and with the Rolling Stones for their "50 and Counting" tour).