Hard and Soft Bounces

Email Marketing

If you are a regular reader of this blog, then you’ll have noticed that it focusses on training and authoring of content. But, this entry in the blog is a little different, as I’m going to try and highlight the difference between soft email bouces and hard email bounces. This is traditionally a email marketing topic, but one that I think is becoming more relevant to the training industry today and a question that has come up repeatedly over the last few weeks to me. (It must be that time of year.!)

When Might I Use Email Marketing?

Many of us are switching to tools like MailChimp or Constant Contact as we become more mature in the manner in which we sell and market our training courses. Rather than just relying on the email tools that we might have within our LMS. These tools work in similar ways, essentially allowing you to hold a list of contacts (hopefully within your GDPR compliance) and to create email campaigns that you send out to target audiences within this list. Examples of these from the training area could be:

  • New course announcements
  • LMS server maintenance notifications
  • Late deals on classroom courses
  • etc..

Bounce, Bounce, Bounce!

When you send an email campaign there are generally 4 results you could expect to get from it. People may open it and read it (good!). People may just delete it (Not so good). People may not get it at all (bad). The email could fail completely (very bad). It’s these last two cases that cause soft and hard bounces.

Hard Bounces

A hard bounce is when the email server cannot deliver the email you sent at all. For example, the email address may no longer exist or never existed. Hard bouces mean that you need to remove that email address from your contact list altogether. It simply does not work. There are other reasons though that can cause a hard bounce. For example, the spam settings on the email server, firewall or some filter have decided that your sending email address or the content of the email is spam, or there is too much email coming from your server.

Soft Bounces

A soft bouce is not nearly as bad as a hard bounce. It means that the email address you are sending to is just not available right now to accept the email. Again there are several reasons why this might happen, such as the email being too large for the email policy to accept, their email inbox may be full and need a clearout or the server may just be offline for a while. A soft bouce email address should be left on your email list and you can keep on trying to email them in future email campaigns.

I hope this helps clarify the difference between the two types of bounces and as always, please contact us or leave any questions in the comments area.

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