Edinburgh Web Development

Bouncy, bouncy

by Iain Wilson

20 October 2011

Do you use email marketing to promote your business. If you do, you'll no doubt receive reports about the number of 'bounces' each time you send out a campaign. Is this something you look at or just discard?

A 'bounce' in email marketing is when an email could not be delivered to its recipient. Email marketing companies business is dependant on delivering emails, so they make every effort to deliver the email - some companies will try for 3 days to deliver the email before giving up. There are quite a few reasons why it might not make it to its final destination - it could be because the address was invalid, the server was down, the email mailbox was full or some other reason.

It could also be that either the ISP or the server provider that hosts the email mailbox made a decision to block the email. Why would it do that? There could be several reasons, but often what happens is that the provider examines each email that arrives and gathers information about the email including where it came from (IP address or the server that sent it). It then looks up spam databases (available openly) to check if the sending address has been registered/reported as sending spam or similar. If it finds the address has been registered, the provider may decide to block the email.

This all sounds good and proper, but unfortunately addresses can end up on these databases for the wrong reasons and emails can get unreasonably blocked. Email marketing companies work with ISPs to try and make sure the addresses of their servers are approved and their emails will get through. They also use a selection of different servers (and addresses) to send out email.

But you can still hit a situation where perhaps a certain ISP blocks email or a certain database has an address that shouldn't be there. For this reason, if you find a campaign generates an unusually high number of bounces for no apparent reason, it's worth resending the message to the 'bouncees' after a few days, as it might just get through from a different server address or once an ISP has made a configuration change.

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