A jolly good way to dampen the Christmas cheer at the office this year is slaving over a fabulous holiday mass email, only to have it bounce.

That’s why we’ve compiled the top 9 reasons for holiday emails bouncing, including quick tips on how to reduce your bounce rate (that’s email jargon for the number of emails which don’t get through to the recipient). So let’s dive in.

1. The Soft Bounce

The most common reason for holiday emails bouncing is the soft bounce. Having some of your outgoing emails bounce is inevitable. If an email fails due to a soft bounce, it will usually keep trying to send for up to 72 hours. There are a variety of reasons for a soft bounce, and one of the ways you can prevent them is to make sure your emails size doesn’t exceed 20 megabytes. Try checking the size of your images and attachments – photos or an attached PDF can be larger than expected.

2. Spam Filters

Nobody is above spam filters, and with how strict spam filters are becoming today it can be easy to be caught out. If you’re getting a lot of emails caught in spam filters, try asking your clients to add you to their contact list. Another solution is to use dynamic fields in your subject line – these allow you to auto-populate a subject line, such as ‘Merry Christmas [insert name here] from all of us at Crossware’. Just make sure your database is kept up to date so you don’t end up with nonsense names in the subject field!

A/B testing your emails is also valuable. Change various things in a mass email and send this to sub-sections of the email list. You can then compare spam and bounce rates if you’re using a website like MailChimp or Constant Contact to create your HTML emails.

3. Server Administrators

Here’s another reason to make sure your clients add you to their contacts list. Individual server administrators will try to screen emails briefly to pick out any spam the filter missed. To decrease how many of your emails bounce here, keep an eye on your subject. The following are some good terms to avoid:

  • Subject starts with “Free”
  • Contains, “If you want to subscribe…”
  • Offers a full refund
  • Claims to be a ‘cure’
  • Claims you have provided permission
  • Offers to ‘expand’ or ‘grow’ anything (especially overnight…)
  • “See for yourself”
  • Subject is all capitals
  • Message is 0% to 10% HTML
  • Includes the words ‘Howdy from the Prince of Nigeria’
  • HTML title contains no text

4. Database Decay

Database decay can happen more quickly than you might realize, and it can mean many emails bounce. A study by Lawson Williams Consulting Group and the Human Resources Institute of New Zealand found that on average New Zealand companies have a turnover rate of 16.3% per year. That means on a list of 1000 emails, 163 could be defunct within 12 months.

It is important to have an unsubscribe function. Something you may not know is that many countries require you to have an unsubscribe mechanism. For instance, all commercial emails in New Zealand must have a free unsubscribe function. If clients use it properly, you can benefit by not paying to have 16.3% of emails bounce when someone moves on.

5. Sender Reputation

Your reputation is your responsibility – if your server has been pinged for sending spam before, then your domain might be marked for life and you’ll see many emails bounce. To prevent this be careful with your digital security. An email virus sending spam emails from your server can quickly lower your domains ranking in the eyes of your client’s spam filters.

6. Blacklisted IP range

Emails bounce when someone on your IP range has been a bit spammy. This happens if someone else using your server administrator starts to break the rules. However, a good server administrator can work to prevent this and maintain your IP’s reputation. To check your IP’s reputation swing by www.debouncer.com

7. Industry Standards

DMARC, which stands for Domain-based Message Authentication, Reporting & Conformance, is a conglomeration of companies interested in reducing spam. This includes Google, Aol, Yahoo!, PayPal, Microsoft and Facebook. They primarily try to stop spoofing – which is when you send an email and trick the server into thinking it is from someone else. Luckily this is an easy one to avoid. Because you just don’t do this if you don’t want to have your emails bounce.

8. The Hard Bounce

When an email address doesn’t exist, emails bounce. It’s as easy as that. So keep on top of your database and be careful when updating it. Importantly, if you have a subscribe function make sure it asks for the email twice (double opt-in), because it is harder to enter it incorrectly two times.

9. Vacation Auto-replies

If your client is on vacation – which during Christmas and New Years is very common – you might see a lot of holiday emails bouncing. It is useful to keep an eye on which addresses bounced for this reason, because if it happens for more than 3 months it might be time to add them to your ‘Do Not Mail’ list and send out a search party.

So make sure your holiday emails aren’t bouncing this Christmas season by following these handy tips and trimming the tinsel on dated databases.

Let us know in the comments if you have any other tips on avoiding bounces this holiday season.

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