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Hard bounce vs soft bounce, What is the difference?

Maya Saleh
Eminent Member


There are many types of bounces depending on the situation and the problem you have. They are the Hard bounce, soft bounce, pending bounce and global bounce. 

  • Hard bounce: This is the most popular type of bounce. It informs me that there is a permanent error. Strict email security filters are the main cause of such bounce. 
  • Soft bounce: This is another kind of bounce that informs that there is a temporary problem with the recipient's server. It may also indicate a temporary technical problem. Fortunately, such contacts are eligible to receive your emails in future.
  • Pending bounce: Temporary technical issue with the sending email server or the receiving one is the cause of this bounce. You can resend emails to these contacts. If the problem continues, it changes to a soft bounce.
  • Global bounce: This is a kind of hard bounce with permanent reasons. No solution for this and they must be dropped from future accounts. 

Soft bounce vs. hard bounce

Simply, we measure the freshness of our email marketing list with the email bounce rate. While there are 4 kinds of bounces as said before, hard and soft are the most popular terms. Additionally, the bounces take place for different reasons, and they are divided into soft and hard depending on these reasons. 

 Let's have a clear look at the differences: Soft bounce vs. Hard bounce

Hard bounce

When you send an email, but it is not delivered for permanent reasons, this is a hard bounce. The reason for this bounce may be an invalid email address or the email is not in use anymore. 

In this case, we think that the subscriber missed a letter or something while writing his email, or the domain is not active. 

Such bounces are harmful and may negatively affect your email deliverability rate and sender reputation. 

Soft bounce


On the other hand, when you send an email, but it is not delivered for temporary reasons, this is a soft bounce. The reason for this bounce is either the recipient's inbox is full or there is a problem with the receiving server.

A soft bounce is not permanent. It is temporary and may be fixed after a few hours. Therefore, you can retry the email after 6 hours or the next day. Try it a few times to check whether it will be fixed or not. If it fails many times, you can consider it a hard bounce then you must remove it from your list so it doesn't harm your list. 

How to improve your email bounce rate?

To avoid having serious problems due to a high bounce rate, you must keep your eyes open and track your email bounce rate. Moreover, you should fix these problems regularly. 

Here are a few tips to fix what is causing a high bounce rate and reduce it:

1. Create a double opt-in so when your subscribers subscribe the first time, they get a verification email with a link. When they click the link, they will be added automatically to your email list. 

2. Update and clean your list regularly to remove incorrect email addresses and inactive subscribers

3. Don't use free services like Gmail to send emails as it is not professional especially for brands. 

4. Send emails consistently, so your subscribers never forget about you. 

5. Verifying your domain with DMARC, SPF and DKIM will help you a lot to lower the email bounce rate. Your subscribers won't get any security alerts when opening your emails. 

6. Avoid using phrases like "50% off", "1k$ per day", "Act now!"... These are considered spammy phrases. 

7. Segment your list and send personalised emails to your subscribers according to their location, interests, age, etc… 

8. Keep your eyes open and continue A/B testing so you always check new formats. 

Remember what works now may not work later! 

Topic starter Posted : 17/01/2022 7:30 pm