Email Bounces with Bronto

We have developed a system for handling and displaying email bounces that makes it much more manageable for our users. The first step in making this process easy for you is handling and interpreting the bounce messages. We take all the data contained in a bounce message and interpret it for you. So unless you generate a detailed tracking report, you will never actually see a bounce message code. What you need to know for sure is how we classify bounces.

At the highest level, we use the classification system of hard bounce and soft bounce in the same way ISPs do. Additionally, we have added a category for those bounces that are neither hard nor soft called Other. The Other category contains email bounces that are unclassified. We try our best to keep email bounces out of this category and apply a proper label to them.

From here, we further breakdown email bounces into three types of soft bounces and three types of hard bounces. The three types of soft bounces are Temporary Contact Issue, Destination Temporarily Unreachable, and Deferred Message Content. The three types of hard bounces are Bad Email Address, Destination Unreachable, and Rejected Message Content. Each email bounce type is described in detail below:
  • Bad Email Address: The bad email address bounce type means that the email server in question has indicated that this is not a valid account. Whether the contact has left that host, had a typo in their registration, or simply made up the email address cannot be discerned from this message. The bad email address metric is important because it clarifies why contacts cannot be delivered to. If you are seeing a lot of bad email address bounces, you need to review your contact gathering mechanisms. Are you forcing people to provide an email address? Contacts may just be making something up to get through the form. Or, perhaps the demographic you are appealing to is more likely to not want to give out their real email address. If so, you may want to tempt them to give a real address by telling them that you will send a coupon, more information, or a link they need to click to verify their account. It all really depends on how bad you want their email address. If you aren't going to validate addresses in some way, then you probably shouldn't require people to give you their email address.
  • Destination Unreachable: The destination system unreachable hard bounce type means that there was a connection issue with the email server. A destination system unreachable hard bounce is different than a bad email address hard bounce (which results in immediate removal of the contact in question). This bounce type means that we will not retry sending this specific email to this specific contact at this time because it is not likely to succeed. Later deliveries to the contact may succeed.
  • Rejected Message Content: The rejected due to message content hard bounce type means that the email server has identified the email as spam. We will not attempt to resend an email that results in a rejected due to message content hard bounce. If you see a number of these, then you should probably look at the message you are sending and take the time to run your message through the spam test provided on the Message Overview page. If you are still having problems or have questions about what may be causing this, please contact support.
  • Temporary Contact Issue: Temporary contact issue means that there was a temporary issue at the receiving mail server with respect to the contact in question. An example of this is a mailbox full message. There isn't too much you can do about a temporary contact issue bounce. It may, however, be an early indicator that a user has abandoned this email address. If you want to be pro-active and try to stem these type of bounces from occurring, include the manage preferences link (using %%!manage_url%%) within your emails, in addition to the unsubscribe link. This allows users to easily update their email address.
  • Destination Temporarily Unreachable: Destination system temporarily unreachable soft bounce type means that there was a temporary issue at the receiving mail server, such as a server busy message. A destination system temporarily unreachable bounce may be resolved via retries. If it is not, there is little you can do about this.
  • Deferred Message Content: Deferred due to message content is quite similar to the rejected message content bounce. Emails aren't often identified this way, as ISPs don't want you to resend something they identify as spam. If you are seeing a majority of your emails being classified as deferred due to message content bounces, you should check your message and see if you can reduce its likelihood of being identified as spam.

When an email bounce occurs, the bounce will be placed within one of seven categories within the application. Six of the seven categories are assigned a 1 or a 0. This is where the email bounce limit for your account comes into play. By default, the email bounce limit is set to 5. If a contact accumulates 5 consecutive bounces with a 1 assigned to it, then the contact will be automatically given a status of inactive. A status of inactive means the contact is disabled and cannot receive messages from you. The lone application email bounce type that is not assigned a 1 or 0 is Bad Email Address. Contacts that bounce because of a Bad Email Address are immediately given a status of inactive.

The chart below provides a visual representation of the information contained in the previous three paragraphs.

You will notice that we refer to contacts bouncing and not email messages. In reality, an email message can bounce, but we don't count bounces that occur because of a problem with the email message. This is the reason why we assign a value of 0 to email bounces with an application bounce type of Rejected Message Content and Deferred Message Content. We do this because our goal with creating an email bounce limit is to help promote good list hygiene. We want to help you rid your list of contacts that you cannot deliver emails too. If a bounce occurs because of email message content, then we don't want to remove a contact from your list because it's not their fault the bounce occurred.