There are many different reasons why an email can bounce. There are also different categories of bounces known as hard and soft bounces. Here are some steps you can take to improve your delivery rate and prevent emails from bouncing.
Start with a good sign up form
In order to send emails to contacts, you've got to obtain contacts. One of the best ways to do this is by using a sign-up form or web form that allows people to input their information and email address. Make sure you've got a good captcha system in place to prevent fake sign-ups by computers or bots.
Use double opt-in contacts only
Any serious email marketer uses double opt-in contacts. If you're not sure what the difference between double opt-in and single opt-in contacts are, you can find out more here.
Clean up your list before you try to send to it
A lot of bounces occur simply because your list of contacts is old. If your list is old, (more than 6 months since you sent to it) then it's highly likely that many of the addresses have gone stale, been closed or are otherwise inactive and will cause you to see a lot of No Mailbox bounces.
Another easy fix is to correct obvious spelling mistakes. You'll want to remove generic addresses like email@example.com and firstname.lastname@example.org for example.
Don't use your first campaign as a way to 'clean' your list!
Your ESP is not a list cleaner and you're doing them and yourself a disservice by doing that. You can consider using an actual list-verifying service and can find some examples here. If you send to a poor list, not only do you risk an account suspension, but you put yourself at a major disadvantage because you damage your own sender reputation.
Elastic Email offers an in-house Email Verification Service. You can verify either a single contact or a whole CSV contact list. Eliminating invalid or otherwise undesirable contacts from your contact lists will significantly improve your email deliverability and decrease bounce rates. You can learn more about our Email Verification Service here.
If you damage your sender reputation, your next campaign may experience even more blocks as recipient servers reject your mail. A little time spent on making your list as good as it can be before you send to it will mean a lot of saved time later as you work to repair the damage done to your sender reputation.
Ask for updated information
It's easy to include a request for updated information or to verify information right in the emails that you send, particularly if you're sending transactional mail. This way, you can potentially get ahead of the bounce by changing the contact's email address before it becomes invalid.
Verify your sender domain
For anyone out there that thinks this sounds technical and scary, we promise it's not. It's easy to do and can mean you will see a reduction in your bounce rate. A verified sender domain is a domain that has given Elastic Email permission to send email from it. This means that the emails are being sent by Elastic Email servers, but the emails are using your domain as the "From" address. You can get every detail you need about why this is useful and how to get it set up by clicking here.
Make sure your email doesn't look like spam
This might seem obvious, but it can actually sneak up on you if you're not paying attention. Spam filters are basically there to judge whether or not your email looks like spam. The challenging part is that because spammers are always changing their tactics, the filters have to change too and what does that mean for you?
It means you can't just "set it and forget it". You need to make sure that your template remains up to date and hasn't taken on any characteristics that make it seem like spam.
You can use your account's spam check results and tools like mail-tester.com to help you stay on track or understand what changes to format, wording, links or content will make sure your emails aren't treated as spam.
Consider sending mail on a schedule
The more consistent your mailing schedule, the less likely your subscribers are to forget that they agreed to receive mail from your business or group.
This doesn't mean you need to send mail every day, but depending on the engagement patterns with your mail and the specific wishes of your unique contacts, it could mean that you have a regular campaign agenda so your mail is expected by both recipient servers and your subscribers.
Manage your sender and account reputation
By following these first 4 recommendations your account and sender reputation is bound to be good, but it's important to value and understand that your account reputation can influence what IP pool your account sends from. So, if you ever see a bounce because of an IP with a reputation issue, review your account reputation and take these steps to help protect and keeps sending IPs in good standing.