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What Everybody Ought to Know About Bounce Management

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by: Will Schnabel (@wschnabel)
30 April 2007

We have all felt the pain of rejection (for me it was too often in high school). In marketing to the B2B world, it has become absolutely imperative to learn from it. This becomes oh so true with understanding bounce management.

Yesterday I read an article on BtoB Online called, “Email Marketer Insight”. I found an obvious but interesting quote that is extremely true given by Dave Lewis on this subject,

Unlike a b-to-c list—where 70% of the addresses may be concentrated in a handful of domains—the typical b-to-b list is spread across hundreds or thousands of corporate domains. This presents unique challenges to the b-to-b mailer, since each of those domains may have different access rules, spam filtering techniques and bounce messages.”

A good bounce management system will help make sense of the relevant data, organize it into logical categories, and focus on how one can optimize their future campaigns. When an email is sent to someone from the contact list and bounced, they can fall under different categories, such as:

Bounceds Hard Bounce: This type of bounce is the easier of the two to classify as it occurs due to two primary reasons; the address does not exist or the email was blocked.

Solutions: If there were relatively small number of emails hard bounced, it would be pertinent to go through those contacts and correct them. Most commonly they’re just human error in recording, so a simple inquiry on contact data will do more than you can imagine. If it was blocked, look at the email again to see what you could modify to get it through next time. Be aware though, the overall numbers will tell more of the story than the isolated incidents.

Soft Bounce: This type of bounce is harder to nail down. A soft bounce could originate from the server being down, an out of office message (where they usually still receive it), or just the mail box is full.

Solutions: Depends. Why? A lot of the times the simple answer is to just try again later. But remember, some of those “mailbox full” bounces are really closed account and will eventually turn into an “unknown address / hard bounce”. A good automated bounce management system will cleanse and remove appropriate hard bounces, and have rules and guidelines in place for the reoccurring soft bounces. If you don’t have this set up, some domains will see your reoccurring email and black list you.

Charles Kettering, an American inventor said, “The world hates change, yet it is the only thing that has brought progress.” There is improvement and change to be had in any campaign, but the trick is knowing the right information and how to apply it. The principle of understanding bounce management becomes essential in optimizing the ROI in any campaign. What are you going to do?




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