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Have you ever wondered if there’s an effective use for bounces? With each campaign you deliver, a certain number of those emails are going to bounce back. It’s natural attrition as email addresses change due to the dynamic nature of people and jobs, as well as human error. For most of us, it’s just another statistic. But for the switched on communicator, it’s a goldmine  – especially if you are in the business-to-business end of the market.

Soft Bounces
These bounces are often caused by auto-generated messages – temporary or system programmed emails designed to tell you when someone is out of the office, on leave, or has left the company. They can be in any format and aren’t filtered as hard bounces for a very good reason. They contain very valuable information which, if you know what to do with it, can be very rewarding. Consider a message that tells you that someone is on maternity or long service leave. It can be a clue as to why that deal has gone quiet and your phone calls have not been returned. The auto-responder will often tell who you should contact in their stead.

Soft bounces are best corralled using a filter on the reply address. It’s not going to be 100% accurate as reply email content can be almost anything, but you can start with filtering anything that contains “auto-reply” or “out of office”.

Tip: If volume is a challenge, create a pseudonym for the reply address (don’t use something generic or “no-reply”) and write a rule to filter replies to that address. Set aside a fixed time to action them the day after your campaign has launched.

Hard Bounces
When someone leaves a company and an email address is retired, a system message is returned which, for the most part, we detect as a hard bounce. For you, this is a red flag and an opportunity to update your database with new leads and contacts. It may be a simple data entry error, but whatever the cause it can be a great opportunity to open a conversation with something a little more concrete than, “Hey, how’s it going?”

Hard bounces are easily collated through campaign reports and can be downloaded for actioning. Try a Subscription Query to pull your hard bounces over a time range, or by mail group or domain.

Tip: High volumes of these are often best outsourced for phoning if you don’t have the internal resources to follow up.


This post was written by Paul Hodgson, Co-Founder and Digital Marketing Strategist at Swift Digital. 

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