Email Marketing

Hard Bounce: Definition, Causes and Recommendations to Prevent It

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By Laia Cardona, on 17 January 2024

Encountering a hard bounce is quite common in an email marketing strategy. But what is it, and how can hard bounce be avoided?

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Hard Bounce

Definition of Hard Bounce

Hard bounce occurs when it is impossible to deliver an email to the recipient. In such cases, the message is automatically returned to the sender, constituting a bounce. Importantly, the reason for non-delivery is permanent, resulting in the same outcome even if you try again later. Depending on the email marketing tool used, email addresses experiencing a hard bounce may automatically be removed from the distribution list.

Hard Bounce vs. Soft Bounce

Within digital marketing, there are two types of bounces: hard bounce and soft bounce.

Hard bounce signifies a permanent reason for the email's non-delivery, while soft bounce involves a temporary reason. Unless soft bounces persist across multiple campaigns, the email address remains on the distribution list.

While soft bounce can occur for various reasons, one common cause is a temporary issue like a downed email server or technical problem. It could also happen if the recipient's inbox is full or if the message size exceeds limits.

Causes of Hard Bounce

Several situations or reasons can lead to a hard bounce. One of the most common is an incorrect or non-existent email address. The domain, which comes after the @ symbol, might also cease to exist, rendering even correctly registered email addresses ineffective. Additionally, recipients might block emails using anti-spam filters.

Recommendations to Prevent Hard Bounce

A high incidence of hard bounce indicates an outdated database with many non-existent or incorrect email addresses. Therefore, it is crucial to update contact information regularly.

To avoid storing erroneous emails, implementing double opt-in (double validation) is effective. Users, after providing their email addresses, must validate them. This not only helps prevent fake addresses but is also useful in ensuring that people provide accurate information to access specific content.

You can also use online tools that validate email addresses. These tools allow the detection of potential bounces before sending emails on a large scale.

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Laia Cardona