Marketing Cloud - Bounce Management in Email Studio (2022)

The Marketing Cloud Email Studio allows marketers to create personalised emails for marketing purposes and send them to specific segments. For a successful email campaign, the quality of your mailing list is crucial, otherwise, you are at risk of ending up on a blacklist. But even with up-to-date, carefully managed lists, it happens that emails do not reach the recipient. These errors are returned to Marketing Cloud as so-called bounces and allow you to see the reason for the sending error.

What are bounces?

Bounces are messages sent back to Marketing Cloud by an Internet Service Provider (ISP) explaining why an email could not be delivered. Subscribers who experience these bounces are marked as "Bounced". Once an email campaign has been sent, Marketing Cloud users no longer have any control over the bounces. You can only understand the reasons for a bounce and what the consequences are for future mailings.

There are two types of bounces:

Soft bounces

A soft bounce is an email that is rejected by an email server for a temporary reason. An example of this would be a full inbox.

Hard bounces

In contrast, a hard bounce is a rejection of an email for a permanent reason, such as an unknown domain.

In the following, the subscriber status and the functionality of the Marketing Cloud in dealing with bounces and the two bounce types are presented in detail.

Subscriber Status

In the Marketing Cloud, each contact has one of the following email statuses. Bounces must be seen in this context:

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Active (green)

The goal is to have as many active subscribers as possible on mailing lists. Active subscribers are a sign that emails are arriving in the inbox. This means that no activity has occurred that would cause the subscriber's status to be Bounced, Undeliverable, Unsubscribed or Deleted.

Bounced / Returned (yellow)

With this status, the email was rejected by the recipient's email server. This means that a subscriber has one or more soft or hard bounces.

Held / Undeliverable (grey)

If a subscriber has three or more soft or hard bounces and more than 15 days have passed since the first bounce, his/her status is changed to Held.Hard bounces from a trusted domain are marked as Undeliverable after the first hard bounce.

If a subscriber with the status Undeliverable (or Bounced) opens an email or clicks on a link in a sent email, the status is reset to Active.

Unsubscribed (red)

If a subscriber unsubscribes from one, several or all lists, the status for the selected or all lists is changed to Unsubscribed. The status can also be manually changed to Unsubscribed by a Marketing Cloud user in a list. If a subscriber makes a spam complaint, the subscriber status also changes to Unsubscribed for all his lists.

Deleted

If a Marketing Cloud user deletes a subscriber from a specific list, the subscriber status for this list changes to Deleted. If a user deletes the subscriber from the All Subscribers list, the global status of the subscriber changes to Deleted.

Bounce management process

Marketing Cloud - Bounce Management in Email Studio (1)

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  • If a hard bounce from a non-trusted domain is recorded, it is treated as a soft bounce. Hard bounces from a trusted domain are marked as Undeliverable after the first hard bounce.
  • It is important to consider the time span of 15 days since the first bounce. If several emails in this period register a soft bounce or hard bounce from a non-trusted domain, subscribers will continue to receive emails. For bounces within this time, only the number of bounces will be increased. After 15 days, a check is made to see whether the number of bounces is greater than or equal to 3, and if this is the case, the subscriber's status is changed to Undeliverable.

Bounce types

1. Soft Bounce
When an email server rejects an email for a temporary reason, this results in a soft bounce. An example of this is a full inbox. In the case of a soft bounce, Marketing Cloud tries to resend the email to the subscriber every 15 minutes for 72 hours, i.e. 288 times. After this period, the subscriber's status is marked as Bounced. Once a bounce appears in the tracking, it cannot be changed.

The 288 attempts are not counted individually as a bounce, but all together as 1 unsuccessful attempt. If all 288 attempts fail, the Subscriber Status is set to Bounced. If the subscriber opens one of the 288 attempts, the status is changed to Active. This also applies to opening an old email in the Inbox.

Not all soft bounces result in 288 retries. Some soft bounces are immediate and permanent. These bounces generate a specific message:

  • mailbox would exceed maximum allowed storage
  • user account is over quota
  • mailbox is full
  • mailbox disabled
  • mailbox temporarily disabled
  • mailbox disabled, not accepting messages

After the third soft bounce of a subscriber, the status changes to Held (Undeliverable).

Reasons for soft bounces:

Cause
DefinitionPossible cautions and resolutions
Inactive AccountAddress is temporarily unavailable as recipient's mailbox is inactive or temporarily disabled.The subscriber's email account is temporarily inactive or disabled. Mailboxes can be disabled for several reasons, including infrequent use, change of address, delinquency, or dispute. These errors could be temporary or permanent. We recommend sending messages to these subscribers in the short term to monitor acceptance, and then contacting the subscriber through other methods to confirm the address.
Mailbox FullRecipient's mailbox is full or has exceeded storage allocation.Your recipient's mailbox is full or it has exceeded its storage allocation. A full mailbox is usually from infrequent use, a temporary change in email checking habits, or an address change. Mailbox full errors are a warning sign. Consider contacting the subscriber through alternative means to confirm that you're mailing to a valid and frequently checked address.
Temporary Domain FailureTemporary failure at the receiving domain.The subscriber's mailbox isn't currently accepting messages. Resolve this temporary issue before future sends. Continue to monitor deliverability for this subscriber. Consider contacting this subscriber through alternative means if these deliverability issues persist.
OtherMailbox temporarily unavailable or indecipherable bounce message received.The subscriber's mailbox isn't currently accepting messages. Resolve this temporary issue before future sends. Continue to monitor deliverability for this subscriber. Consider contacting this subscriber through alternative means if these deliverability issues persist.

2. Block Bounce

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A block bounce is a subcategory of soft bounce. Block bounces occur when an email server rejects an email due to filter issues. This includes, for example, URL blocks, no clear authentication or the domain or IP address is on a blacklist. In case of a block bounce, delivery is attempted again the next time an email is sent.

CauseDefinition
ComplaintYour email is blocked due to complaints.
BlacklistIP address is on a blacklist.
ContentMessage was filtered due to content.
URL BlockEmails containing your URLs are blocked.
AuthentificationMessage lacks required authentication.

3.Technical bounce

A technical bounce is also a subcategory of soft bounce and occurs due to technical problems such as data format and network errors. These bounces are also retried the next time the email is sent.

CauseDefinition
Server too busyReceiving email server is temporarily overwhelmed with delivery attempts from you and other senders.
Data Format ErrorEmail is rejected due to formatting or line length errors.
Network ErrorConnection lost or timed out during delivery line length errors.

4. Hard Bounce
A hard bounce occurs when the email server rejects an email due to persistent conditions. This bounce typically occurs when the user is unknown or the domain cannot be found. What happens next depends on the status of the subscriber.

If the status was active in advance:
If the subscriber's status was active, their status will now change to Bounced. No more attempts are made to send this email campaign to this subscriber, but the subscriber is retried in your next email campaign. In terms of bounces, each email sent is considered a campaign.

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If the status was Bounced in advance:
If the subscriber's status was already Bounced, this indicates that this was not the first bounce and it is thus handled differently. If this email campaign is the first or second email campaign in which the subscriber has experienced a bounce, the subscriber will retain the status Bounced. In the next campaign, the sending will be attempted again.

However, if this email campaign is the third campaign in which the subscriber bounced, it will be checked when the first bounce message was received for this subscriber. If less than 15 days have passed since the first bounce message was received, the subscriber will retain the status Bounced and will be included again in the next campaign. No further attempts will be made for this current email campaign. If a bounce occurs more than 15 days after the first bounce message, the subscriber status changes to Held (Undeliverable).

However, there is another exception. If the hard bounce is from a trusted domain, the status changes directly to Undeliverable. Currently trusted domains are Gmail.com, Hotmail.com (including all active Hotmail country domains such as Hotmail.fr) and all active Road Runner domains such as nyc.rr.com.

Reasons for Hard Bounces:

CauseDefinitionPossible Cautions and Resolutions
Domain unknownDomain is bad or non-existent.Sending to unknown domains is a result of poor data capture methods, old data, or questionable data sources. Sending to old lists can also increase the likelihood of mailing to dead domains, as domains that are no longer active are represented on old lists. To avoid receiving a high number of "Domain Unknown" errors, we recommend sending a test send to 10% of your regular mailing volume. You can assess the results from the test send without exceeding the acceptable bounce and complain rates and make a reasonable risk assessment before proceeding with a larger send.
User UnknownAddress is invalid or failure is permanent per bounce message.Industry statistics indicate that up to 33% of email addresses become invalid over 12 months. Receiving the User Unknown error indicates that the address is no longer active or has never been an active email address. Because of the high turnover rate of email addresses, sending to subscribers regularly decreases the possibility of a sudden spike on a specific campaign. If mailing to an old subscriber list, we recommend sending a random 10% test to avoid a sudden increase in bounces. This error could also be the result of poor data capture methods. If so, we recommend requiring subscribers to enter their email address twice.
Bad Address SyntaxEmail address invalid.The email contains incorrect syntax. For example, you left out the "@" symbol or didn't include a domain name (like "examplecom" instead of "example.com").

Check your email address syntax and correct any errors you see.

High Unknown Address PercentageEmail is blocked due to the high quantity or percentage of unknown or inactive addresses on your list.The subscriber's ISP has flagged your IP address for sending too many messages that got blocked. The ISP sees that you sent emails to people that didn't accept them.
OtherAddress is invalid or failure is permanent per bounce message.

Subscribers who continuously generate hard bounces should be removed from the mailing list.

5. Unsubscribed Status
Subscribers may be marked as Unsubscribed for the following reasons:

  • The subscriber clicks on an unsubscribe link in an email or chooses to unsubscribe in a preference centre.
  • The subscriber reports an email as spam to an ISP with whom Marketing Cloud has a feedback loop (AOL, Hotmail, Comcast and others).
  • The subscriber's address is manually unsubscribed by a Salesforce Marketing Cloud user.

Conclusion

It is absolutely essential to understand the bounce management of Marketing Cloud because it is not quite intuitive. By understanding the functionality, mailing lists can be adjusted and measures can be taken to increase or maintain a high deliverability rate. Be sure that you only send your campaigns to subscribers, who explicitly agreed to receive your emails and keep your lists up-to-date. If you have any questions about bounce management, please feel free to contact us.

Reference:

https://help.salesforce.com/articleView?id=mc_es_bounce_mail_management.htm&type=5

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FAQs

Marketing Cloud - Bounce Management in Email Studio? ›

In the case of a soft bounce, Marketing Cloud tries to resend the email to the subscriber every 15 minutes for 72 hours, i.e. 288 times. After this period, the subscriber's status is marked as Bounced. Once a bounce appears in the tracking, it cannot be changed.

How do you manage email bounces? ›

6. Seven Tips to Lower Bounce Rate
  1. Do not buy, rent or harvest email addresses. ...
  2. Use a confirmed opt-in process. ...
  3. Verify your existing list. ...
  4. Monitor delivery by domains. ...
  5. Check your message against spam filters. ...
  6. Remove repeated soft bounce emails. ...
  7. Allow users to change their email addresses with you.

What is a bounce in Marketing Cloud? ›

Bounces are messages that ISPs send back to Marketing Cloud to explain why they can't deliver your email. When an email can't be successfully delivered, the application labels the subscriber as Bounced.

How do I handle a bounced email in Salesforce? ›

From Setup, click Email, then click Deliverability. Select Activate bounce management. Optionally, select Return bounced emails to sender. Bounced emails are returned as attachments to the sender.

How many types of bounce are there? ›

We categorize bounces into two types: hard bounces and soft bounces.

What is the difference between a hard and soft bounce? ›

Hard bounce: usually indicates a permanent error, but can also be caused by a strict email security filter. To protect your email sender reputation, HubSpot excludes these contacts from future emails. Soft bounce: indicates a temporary problem with the recipients server, or another temporary technical problem.

How do I fix a soft bounce email? ›

How to reduce soft bounces in email marketing
  1. Use double opt-in. Always send a confirmation email to new subscribers requesting that they confirm their willingness to be on your email list. ...
  2. Watch out for spam triggers. ...
  3. Send engaging content every time. ...
  4. Manage your sender reputation.

Should I delete bounced email addresses? ›

If someone is bouncing for a permanent reason, like an invalid or blocked email address, they're a hard bounce that should be removed from your list. But if they are bouncing for a temporary reason, like an autoresponder or a full mailbox, they are a soft bounce who should remain on your list.

How do I remove emails from a bounced list? ›

How to remove your email from bounce list - YouTube

How do I track a bounced email in Salesforce? ›

2. Access the standard Bounced reports: Bounced Contacts - Under the folder 'Account and Contact Report' click on 'Bounced Person Accounts and Contacts' Bounced Leads - Under the folder 'Lead Reports,' click 'Bounced Leads'

Is email bounced field in Salesforce contact? ›

If the email specified in the contact is wrong, that email gets bounced and Salesforce displays an alert next to that email address and prevents users from sending email to the address until it is updated. Bounce Management is a feature in Salesforce used to track the delivery of Emails.

How do I track a sent email in Salesforce? ›

In Lightning Experience, email tracking applies to all emails and list emails sent through Salesforce, Office 365, Gmail, Email Relay, and Einstein Activity Capture. From Setup, enter Activity Settings in the Quick Find box, then select Activity Settings. Select Enable Email Tracking. Click Submit.

What's a soft bounce? ›

Definition: In email marketing, a soft bounce is an email which is temporarily undeliverable, usually because of some problem on the recipient's side.

What is a Hardbounce? ›

A hard bounce is an e-mail message that has been returned to the sender because the recipient's address is invalid. A hard bounce might occur because the domain name doesn't exist or because the recipient is unknown.

What is LIST detective in Marketing Cloud? ›

List Detective is a proprietary Marketing Cloud database of bad email addresses that your Lists are "scrubbed" against whenever they're imported.

Where do bounced emails go? ›

Many bounced emails tend to get swallowed by systems or end up flagged as spam.

What causes email bounces? ›

What causes an email to bounce back? There are a variety of reasons for email bounce backs include full inboxes, servers that aren't responding, sends to email addresses that no longer exist, invalid email addresses, and sends to fake email addresses.

What is a bounce in email? ›

Bounce e-mail (sometimes referred to as bounce mail) is electronic mail that is returned to the sender because it cannot be delivered for some reason. Unless otherwise arranged, bounce e-mail usually appears as a new note in your inbox. There are two kinds of bounce e-mail: hard bounce and soft bounce.

What is a good email bounce rate? ›

The accepted benchmark for bounced emails is 2%. This means for every 100 emails you send, two will be returned to you. Often times, your bounce rate will be much lower. Anything between 2% and 5% is worth noting.

What is a good bounce rate? ›

So, what is a good bounce rate? A bounce rate of 56% to 70% is on the high side, although there could be a good reason for this, and 41% to 55% would be considered an average bounce rate. An optimal bounce rate would be in the 26% to 40% range.

How do you test if an email will bounce? ›

Here's how it works: Head to www.wiza.co/verify-email-free. Enter the email address you want to verify. Verified email addresses will say 'Deliverable', invalid email addresses will say 'Undeliverable'

What causes a high soft bounce rate? ›

Soft bounces are temporary delivery failures and can occur for a variety of reasons. There may be a temporary issue with the receiving server, the recipient's mailbox may be full or the receiving server may have identified an email as too large.

How do you stop a soft bounce? ›

How to reduce email bounce rate? 8 effective methods
  1. Start with a good sign up form. ...
  2. Reduce email bounce rate by using double opt-in contacts only. ...
  3. Clean up contact list before you try to send to it. ...
  4. Don't use the first campaign as a way to 'clean' your list! ...
  5. Ask for updated information. ...
  6. Verify your sender domain.

Why am I getting returned emails that I never sent? ›

This problem is caused by spammers who are using a forged email address pretending to be yours. Most spammers will not use a real return address because they will get their account closed very quickly.

How do I fix undeliverable outlook? ›

Try these fixes: Make sure the recipient address is valid. Reduce the number of recipients in the message. If you received this error when sending a message using Outlook or another email app, try using Outlook.com to send the message instead.

What is a bounce in email? ›

Bounce e-mail (sometimes referred to as bounce mail) is electronic mail that is returned to the sender because it cannot be delivered for some reason. Unless otherwise arranged, bounce e-mail usually appears as a new note in your inbox. There are two kinds of bounce e-mail: hard bounce and soft bounce.

What are the common bounces that messages back? ›

Here are a few of the most common bounce back messages that you may encounter during email sending or receiving:
  • User unknown in virtual mailbox table.
  • IP Blacklist.
  • Reverse DNS Lookup Fail.
  • SPF Fail.
  • Mails getting detected as spam by the spam filter.
  • Header check.
Dec 12, 2019

What is bounce type? ›

A bounce, is an email that is returned because it cannot be delivered for some reason. When an email cannot be delivered it 'bounces' back to the sender (hence the term 'bounce'). In general we can make a distinction between two kinds of bounced emails.

What is an email soft bounce? ›

Definition: In email marketing, a soft bounce is an email which is temporarily undeliverable, usually because of some problem on the recipient's side. Soft bounces are measured in ecommerce email marketing campaigns, indicating addresses which are still usable but currently unavailable.

Where do bounced emails go? ›

Many bounced emails tend to get swallowed by systems or end up flagged as spam.

What is a bounce rate in email marketing? ›

Your bounce rate is the percentage of email addresses that your campaign could not be delivered to. Email providers and anti-spam networks monitor bounce rates for every campaign you send, and use that information to decide if they'll accept mail from you in the future.

How do you know if an email is bounced? ›

Go to Add-ons > Mail Merge > Campaign Reports > View Bounced Email to view your bounce report. The report is for your entire Google account and not specific to any email campaign. It may thus include email addresses that were found in your mailbox but could have been sent manually.

What causes emails to bounce? ›

What causes an email to bounce back? There are a variety of reasons for email bounce backs include full inboxes, servers that aren't responding, sends to email addresses that no longer exist, invalid email addresses, and sends to fake email addresses.

Will an email bounce back if wrong? ›

If you send email to an invalid address or a closed account, usually you'll get a bounce back.

What is a good bounce rate? ›

So, what is a good bounce rate? A bounce rate of 56% to 70% is on the high side, although there could be a good reason for this, and 41% to 55% would be considered an average bounce rate. An optimal bounce rate would be in the 26% to 40% range.

Should I remove soft bounces? ›

If someone is bouncing for a permanent reason, like an invalid or blocked email address, they're a hard bounce that should be removed from your list. But if they are bouncing for a temporary reason, like an autoresponder or a full mailbox, they are a soft bounce who should remain on your list.

Videos

1. Marketing Cloud WorkshopEmail Studio Session 2
(Keep Learning Salesforce)
2. Building, Testing, & Sending Emails in Marketing Cloud | Salesforce Support
(Salesforce Support)
3. How to Use Email Reports in Marketing Cloud
(Salesforce Support)
4. Salesforce: SFMC Email Studio Bounced Emails
(Roel Van de Paar)
5. Salesforce: How hard bounce emails are treated by Marketing Cloud?
(Roel Van de Paar)
6. Setup an Automated Tracking Extract and Import in Salesforce Marketing Cloud
(Cameron Robert)

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