What is a Hard Bounce in Email Marketing and How to Fix it?

hard bounce in email marketing

There’s a lot to understand when it comes to creating a small business, including the questions, what is a hard bounce in email marketing? In simple terms, a hard bounce is an email message that gets returned to the sender for a variety of reasons. The most common factor causing an email to bounce is the invalid email address of a recipient.

What is a Hard Bounce in Email Marketing?

A hard bounce is an indicator and shows that it isn’t possible to deliver an email. In the majority of cases, the email marketing system erases and clears the bounced email addresses from the audience list immediately and automatically.

This means that the erased addresses won’t be a part of your future email marketing campaign. Below are listed a few of the reasons why an email may hard bounce:

  • The email address of the recipient doesn’t exist
  • The domain name doesn’t exist
  • The email server of the recipient has blocked the email delivery

When the cause of a hard bounce is the unavailability of a domain name, it means the recipient is unknown. If the name is known, the rejection of the mail could be that the sender’s mailbox is full. However, there are circumstances where you may face a hard bounce, even if the email address is valid.

Soft Bounces and its Causes

To completely understand the hard bounce concept, it is essential to know some facts about a soft bounce.

Soft bounces typically relate to temporary delivery issues. A soft bounce is handled uniquely by a network or computer. After an email address soft bounces, you will automatically receive a message that the soft bounce has occurred.

If a particular email address occurs as a soft bounce in other campaigns, this address will eventually become a hard bounce. As a result, the system will strike it off from the audience list.

The following are the leading causes of a soft bounce:

  • The email server of the recipient’s email server is offline or down
  • Recipient’s mailbox is full
  • You are trying to send an excessively large email message

Other Types of Email Bounce

Typically, a bounce message can also be referred to as a Non-Delivery Report/Receipt (NDR). Being an automated message, the sender will receive it when there is an issue on the recipient’s email server, or the domain name doesn’t exist.


Global bounce

A global bounce occurs when there is a hard bounce across three or more email-marketing accounts. When temporary issues take more than the anticipated time, it turns a soft bounce into a global bounce.

Permanent bounces usually involve issues like a full mailbox or an invalid email address. If this happens, it is essential to drop these contacts that show global bounces from future email lists.

Pending bounce

This type of bounce is due to temporary technical issues, which usually stop the sending or receiving of the email. The leading cause of this issue is the temporary unavailability of the server.

The automated email-sending platform would continue sending the email for almost 72 hours. If the message fails to deliver during this period, it will become a soft bounce.

Where to Get Information about Hard Bounces in Email Marketing

The recipient’s tab of an email marketing platform offers full details regarding the server response and bounce types. When sending one-to-one sales emails, you can find the bounce details on the contact timeline within the email engagement tab.

The information related to the bounce for a one-to-one sales email is less comprehensive when compared to one that you receive during a marketing email campaign with many addresses. This is because such emails are sent via a connected inbox.

This is just one of the different ways in which you can receive a bounce-back notification and information associated with it.

The file containing the list of hard bounced contacts also contains the server response showing the reasons for each of the bounces.

Hard bounce: Errors and Suggestions

When the recipient’s email address is misspelt, is invalid or has been blocked for incoming email, this results in a permanent error known as a hard bounce. The primary reason for this error is an invalid email address.

The email marketing software automatically deletes such contacts that relate to the hard bounce. If such a contact bounces on more than one email marketing account, it will fall in the list of globally bounced contacts.

The following are instances or email errors and recommendations to resolve such issues:

Mailbox of the recipient is full

This is an indication that a permanent error is causing an email to bounce. One of the leading causes of this issue may be an overloaded email inbox. It is essential to erase such contacts from the email-marketing list to avoid any hassle in the future.

Security filter rejects the email

A contact list or email address list that rejects any unknown email or emails from specific senders can also cause a hard bounce. The marketing platform clears all those contacts if they result in a hard bounce to prevent this from happening in the future.

Soft bounce: Errors and Suggestions

The following are the issues related to a soft bounce:

Temporary issue

When the recipient’s server is undergoing some configuration changes, has timed out, or is overloaded, it may result in a soft bounce. To resolve this issue, create a clone of the original email and try to send it another day when the issue is resolved.

Rejection by recipient’s email

The security filter may reject the email, causing a temporary problem to send the email. To resolve this issue, request your contacts to whitelist your IP address. If they accept your request, create a clone of the email and send it later.


No matter whether you are facing the issue of a hard or soft bounce, you must keep an eye on your email marketing. Try to erase hard bounce contacts from your mailing list and add new ones for more effective marketing. So this answers the question about “what is a hard bounce in email marketing?” We hope that you can now create optimal email conditions and combine them with the best email autoresponder for email marketing.

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Yogesh Saini

I have been in the affiliate marketing industry for more than two years. I am an entrepreneur myself and know what it takes to be successful.
My goal is to show entrepreneurs how they can build a successful online business with my help, and teach them about the latest trends in digital marketing.

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