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What is a hard bounce in email marketing?

**Definition:**A hard bounce is an email that has been returned to the sender due to a permanent error — most often, an invalid address. Hard bounces are an important email marketing metric, with their reduction a primary goal of email marketers.

Too many hard bounces can land a domain on blacklists, making it imperative to regularly monitor email lists, target the right users, and give users the opportunity to update their information.

Keep lists up to date

Too many hard bounces may signal that it's time for a business to research its own contacts. Since people frequently change email addresses, and usually without updating with regular senders. MailChimp recommended ecommerce merchants keep in touch with subscribers at least once per quarter to ensure all data is current and brand-distributed materials aren't sent to non-working addresses.

A hard bounce can also signal that a customer has flagged a company's emails as spam, potentially because of too much correspondence. Email marketers should also be aware of that possibility and regularly check bounce-back records for indication of spam filters.

The need for strong data hygiene

Ecommerce sites that witness a large number of hard bounces following a marketing campaign need to consider better "data hygiene". Obsolete, inaccurate or missing information results in "dirty data" and coincides directly with hard bounces. Businesses must complete regular information checks to ensure all materials are useable for the purposes for which they were gathered.

Poor data hygiene culminates in lost time, money and marketing efforts. If ecommerce merchants don't have the proper information to work with, their sales funnel could be seriously affected, as could their company's overall reputation and customer satisfaction.

To ensure these problems don't occur, it's recommended that online businesses create a system and policy for cleaning their data. As soon as companies see examples of a hard bounce, they should purge their contact list of those addresses. Keeping consumer information fresh and up-to-date will improves email delivery rates and increases customer engagement.

How to reduce hard bounces

Hard bounces reduce campaign effectiveness, limit reach, and endanger a domain of perpetually landing in spam folders. To prevent this, consider the following techniques:

  • Use adouble opt-in form to confirm email addresses.

  • Check spam mail databases to ensure the site's domain has not been added.

  • Test emails prior to sending, especially to a large number of recipients.

  • Monitor delivery by watching response rates, email opens and bounce rates.

  • Include email management option in each message so consumers can update their addresses themselves.

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