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Bounces and Unsubscribes

Cleaning House: How to Build Healthy Email Lists

Address Bounces
Bounces contribute to the hygiene problems on several mailing lists. This happens for a number of reasons. Perhaps you have a few invalid email addresses because of data capture errors that occurred at signup. Maybe the recipient’s inbox has reached its capacity limit, or their ISP’s mail server is down due to technical difficulties. These are classic examples of bounces. It is important to make yourself familiar with them and how they can affect the quality of your list.

In the email domain, bounces come in two flavors: soft and hard. A soft bounce refers to an email that is sent and turned away before it is successfully delivered to the recipient's inbox. Any email addresses that are attached to soft bounces should not be removed from your mailing list right away. In many cases, they are the result of a temporary problem that sees your message eventually delivered.

A hard bounce refers to a message that is sent to an inactive email address. This is often the result of the subscriber who switches ISPs and picks up a new email address in the process, or the one whose employee email account was deleted after moving on from the company. No matter the reasoning behind them, hard bounces are something you must deal with. You can try to reduce them by including brief text in your messages that encourages subscribers to update their profiles should they ever change their email addresses. The only other thing you can do is remove the addresses that are hard bouncing. Remove the dead weight and your list will instantly be in better health.
Get Rid of Unsubscribes
Your mailing list will breathe much easier by removing all the email addresses of people who opt out of your communications. Don't view it as a sign of defeat. View it as honoring the subscriber's request and maintaining the overall health of your list. If you are running your own campaigns, you will have to manually remove unsubscribes, which is much easier when you have an efficient database system in place. If you have a good ESP then it's no sweat at all. A company that is truly on the ball will handle all your unsubscribes while you kick back and focus on the marketing aspects.

The most important part here is making sure those names are off your list. Remember, this is a requirement of the 2003 CAN-SPAM Act. After 10 business day, keeping someone on your list who explicitly opted out could lead to more trouble than you are equipped to handle. Besides, it is better to spend your time on interested, engaged subscribers who want to hear from you.