Bounce Rate in Newsletter Reporting

Hard bounce or soft bounce? With multi-level bounce management, you can see and improve the deliverability of your mailings
Newsletter Bounce Management CleverReach

Multi-level bounce management

Valid database
Multi-level email bounce management keeps your recipient lists free of faulty email addresses.

Improved reputation
A low bounce rate has a positive impact on your sender reputation.

Differentiation between hard and soft bounces
Soft bounces are blocked only briefly, while hard bounces are permanently sorted out.

What is a 'bounce rate'?

  • The bounce rate is an important figure in email marketing. It’s the percentage of emails that can’t be delivered in relation to all sent emails.
  • If an email doesn’t reach one of your subscribers, an automated notification is triggered.
  • Bounces are identified for each mailing and shown in your report. It’s perfectly normal that you’ll always have some bounces for every mailing. The more contacts you have on your mailing list, the more bounces you’ll have.
  • You can draw conclusions from the bounce rate to the quality of your mailing list.
  • CleverReach helps you to keep your lists clear off bounces which protects your reputation as a sender. Find more on that topic under “Automatic bounce management”.

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1. Difference between hard and soft bounces

Newsletter Bounce Management Difference Hard and Soft Bounces CleverReach

If a newsletter can’t be delivered, our system receives an error message. It is differentiated between a current and a permanent bounce which tells us whether it is a soft or hard bounce.

  • A soft bounce is a temporary problem – the address can’t be contacted because of a full inbox or an out-of-office message.
  • A hard bounce can’t be contacted permanently because the email address or inbox don’t exist (anymore).

2. Why soft and hard bounces are treated differently

Newsletter Bounce Management Why Soft and Hard Bounce are Treated Differently CleverReach

Depending on the kind of bounce they are blocked for a different period of time. CleverReach does that for you automatically:

  • Soft bounce: will be blocked for a month after the delivery attempt. The address exists but there is a temporary problem that leads to a bounce. If that error is fixed, the next delivery will be successful.
  • Hard bounce: will be blocked after the unsuccessful delivery for one year. It won’t work to send the email once again, as the email address doesn’t exist.

Do you want to see your bounces? No problem! Just go to the respective list and set the filter to “bounces”. Bounce addresses are marked with a blue spot. After the expiration of the blocking period, the addresses will be re-activated automatically.

Tip: Delete or deactivate bounce addresses, as the majority probably won’t be available in the future.

3. Multi-level bounce management: your advantages

A high bounce rate has a negative impact on your reputation as a sender. Incorrect addresses are characteristic for spam senders and some email clients will automatically mark you as spam when you have a high bounce rate. This leads to more of your newsletters ending up in spam folders, which negatively influences your delivery rate.

In this context:

  • Soft bounces – emails that can’t be delivered temporarily – have an influence on your delivery rate. There will be up to three delivery attempts.
  • Hard bounces have an impact on your reputation as a sender. Spammers often use huge mailing lists with lots of non-existent or verified addresses that they contact repeatedly although they get bounce notifications. To not end up on a blacklist as a spammer, CleverReach blocks respective contacts right after the first failed delivery attempt.


By differentiating between soft and hard bounces, on the one hand, temporarily unavailable contacts will be blocked for a short time, on the other hand, invalid contacts will be blocked long enough to protect your reputation as a sender.

4. Tips & Tricks

Newsletter Bounce Management Tips and Tricks CleverReach

Surely, you’ll wonder how it’s possible that you have bounces in your mailing list. All of your subscribers have registered for your newsletter via DOI (Double-Opt-In). Why do some addresses produce error messages? The explanation is simple:

Soft bounces emerge, when your subscriber has temporary problems with their email address. In this case, you didn’t cause the problem, the subscriber has problems with their inbox. It could be, for example, that their inbox is full. It depends on the email provider how much emails you can store in your inbox. If the storage is used up, no new emails can be delivered until the subscribers make space for them. Out-of-office messages also produce soft bounces.

Hard bounces appear because the email address doesn’t exist. But how do invalid addresses sneak their way into your mailing list? There are many reasons:

  • Your subscriber has made some typos. Scrambled letters can happen quickly and lead to undeliverable newsletters.
  • The same can happen to one of your supporters who mistypes the email address into your CRM and which is then used for your newsletter delivery (preconditioned, you have the subscriber’s consent). If you correct the mistake, make sure this also happens in the CRM, as otherwise the wrong address could be imported again and again.
  • Your subscriber has a new email address and simply deleted the old one.

5. Good to know

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