What is a Bounced Email?

A bounced email is an email message that is returned to the sender because it cannot be delivered to the intended recipient. This essentially means that your email never reached the intended recipient’s inbox. 


Bounced emails can be frustrating, especially for important communications. However, receiving a bounce message can be a valuable notification that there’s an issue with the recipient’s address or the deliverability of your email.


Understanding the different types of bounces and their causes can help you improve your email-sending practices and ensure your messages reach the right inboxes.



Types of Email Bounce

There are two main categories of bounced emails: hard bounces and soft bounces.



Hard Email Bounce

A hard bounce, also known as a permanent failure, means that the email is permanently undeliverable. This means the email server definitively cannot or will not deliver your message.


Reasons for a Hard Email Bounce:


  • Invalid email address: This is the most common reason for a hard bounce. It could be due to a typo in the recipient’s email address, a misspelling in the domain name (e.g., gmail.com instead of [invalid URL removed]), or a non-existent email address altogether.


  • Mailbox closed: The recipient’s email account may have been closed or deleted.


  • Mailbox full: The recipient’s mailbox may be exceeding its storage quota and cannot accept new messages.


  • Server issues: The recipient’s email server may be experiencing technical difficulties or is permanently configured to reject emails from your domain or IP address.


  • Spam traps: Spam traps are email addresses specifically created to catch spammers. If you accidentally send an email to a spam trap, it will likely result in a hard bounce.


How to Fix Hard Bounce Issues:


  • Verify the email address: Ensure that all email addresses in your list are correctly formatted and valid.


  • Clean your email list: Regularly remove invalid or non-existent email addresses from your mailing list.


  • Use double opt-in: Implement a double opt-in process to confirm the validity of email addresses when subscribers sign up.


  • Monitor bounce rates: Keep track of bounce rates and investigate patterns that might indicate issues with your email list.



Soft Email Bounce

A soft bounce, also known as a temporary failure, indicates that there’s a temporary issue preventing the delivery of your email. Unlike hard bounces, soft bounces suggest that the email address might still be valid, and there’s a chance the message could be delivered eventually.


Reasons for a Soft Email Bounce:


  • Server issues: The recipient’s email server is temporarily unavailable or experiencing issues.


  • Message size limits:The email exceeds the recipient’s server size limits for incoming emails.


  • Greylisting: The recipient’s server temporarily rejects the email to verify the legitimacy of the sender.


How to Fix Soft Bounce Issues:


  • Try resending the email: Attempt to resend the email after some time, especially if the issue is temporary like server downtime.


  • Check the email size: Ensure your email, including attachments, does not exceed common size limits (usually around 10-25 MB).


  • Message the recipient: If an email repeatedly bounces, consider contacting the recipient through an alternative method to resolve the issue.


  • Monitor mailbox quotas: Advise recipients to manage their mailbox quotas to avoid full mailbox issues.



Contents of a Bounced Message

The specific details included in a bounce message can vary depending on the recipient’s email server. However, it typically contains the following information:


  • Delivery status: This indicates whether the bounce was a hard bounce or a soft bounce.


  • Reason for bounce: The message might provide a specific reason for the bounce, such as “mailbox full” or “address not found.”


  • Original email: Some bounce messages may include a copy of the original email you sent.


  • Diagnostic code: This is a technical code that can provide more specific details about the bounce reason. You might need to consult your email provider’s documentation to understand the specific meaning of the code.


By understanding the different types of bounced emails and their causes, you can take corrective actions to improve your email deliverability and ensure your messages reach the intended recipients.

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