Image depicting emails bouncing from an inbox

Email Bounce Rate: What Is It & How to Reduce It?

Email bounce rate is a key metric in email marketing. If it’s too high, it could cause serious damage to your email campaigns and even your sender reputation. In this blog post, we’ll help you understand what email bounce rate is, what causes it, and how to keep it in check so you can enjoy high email deliverability.

What is Email Bounce Rate?

Еmail bounce rate refers to the percentage of emails that were sent, but not successfully delivered to recipients’ inboxes. More specifically, this rate tracks messages that were rejected by the recipients’ email servers but returned with an automated bounce message to the sender indicating a delivery error.

Note: The bounce rate will not take into account email messages that got flagged as SPAM and rejected at network level without any feedback being sent to the sending server. You may check out our article on How to Avoid Your Emails Going to Spam for more information on the topic of spam.

In email marketing, bounces aren’t just minor hiccups. They’re more like signals, telling you that something is not okay. It could be anything from a typo in the email address to an issue with the email content or the recipient’s mail server. 

Hence, recognizing and understanding your email bounce rate is crucial. It goes beyond just making sure your messages are getting through. More importantly, it helps maintain your reputation as a sender, moving your business communications up the ladder. 

Now, keep in mind that not all of your marketing messages will be delivered or bring conversions, and that is normal. (You may check out our article on email deliverability for an in-depth understanding of the email journey and the different obstacles on its way.) However, if the percentage of bounced emails is too high, your business will suffer.

How does the email bounce rate affect your business?

A high bounce rate blocks your marketing efforts and can damage your sender reputation with email service providers. That can even spiral into more delivery challenges and further lower your email campaigns’ reach.

As a provider of email hosting services, throughout the years, we’ve had clients contacting us in search of the reason for their messages coming back undelivered. And, we know how frustrating this may be as it affects their operations as a business. Sometimes, the reason for the bounce is simply a mistyped recipient’s address. On other occasions, the reason may be more complex.

Let’s first clarify how high email bounce rates can affect your business so you know what you may have to deal with if you do not take corrective actions.

Lowered Engagement & Conversion Rates 

When your email messages bounce back, they don’t reach the intended recipients and this naturally leads to lower open and click-through rates, which means reduced engagement with your content. If your emails aren’t getting through, this means that fewer people are seeing and interacting with your content. Consequently, this drop in engagement leads to fewer conversions, which in turn, impacts your bottom line. 

Wasted Resources 

Each email that bounces back is a waste of your time, effort, and money. You should know that even if you’re following all the best practices, there will still be messages that come back, so be prepared. Yet, you should strive to keep that count as low as possible. Practically, high bounce rates mean you are not maximizing the return on investment of your marketing efforts because a portion of your audience is not even receiving your messages. It’s essentially pouring your costly business efforts down the drain. 

Biased Analytics 

Bounce rates can distort the accuracy of your campaign’s analytical data. That happens because metrics like open rates and conversions can’t accurately reflect your audience’s behavior if a high number of emails never reach their destinations. Even if your other metrics look great, you must not leave the bounce rates unattended. 

If you ignore the bounce rate, that can lead to incorrect interpretations of the performance of your email campaigns. That, in turn, could lead you to make misinformed business decisions – not seeing the full picture can cause you to invest in the wrong areas.

Damaged Sender Reputation

Internet Service Providers (ISPs) track the number of bounces you generate in an attempt to prevent spam. The higher your bounces are, the more ISPs and ESPs would assume that you are buying email lists or scraping emails. Thus, they would start punishing you by flagging your emails as spam, and this can harm your reputation as a sender. That eventually results in reduced email deliverability.

To gain a better understanding of how spam filters take email bounce rate into consideration, read our blog post on How to avoid your emails from going to spam

Restoring a good sender reputation is hard, so, you better put your thoughts into preventing such an outcome.

Potential for Blacklisting 

Continuing to send messages to email addresses that consistently bounce can not just trigger spam filters with email service providers, but eventually get your domain and/or IP on a denylist. This means that recipient email servers will start rejecting all your messages as spam at network level, further plummeting your email deliverability. 

As you can see, keeping your eyes on the prize without considering the potential negative outcomes and not taking measures can cause lots of damage to your business. Thus, to take actions to minimize bounce rates, you must understand their nuances better.  

Types of Email Bounces

When it comes to email marketing, not all bounces are equal. You’ve got two main types to keep an eye on – hard bounces and soft bounces. Understanding the difference between these can help you improve your overall campaign results.

Hard Bounces

A hard bounce is a permanent delivery failure. Hard bounces occur when you send marketing emails to:

  • Inactive contacts – these are emails that are no longer in use. They were once active, valid addresses, but no more.
  • Non-existent (mistyped) emails – these are addresses that are not registered. 
  • Invalid email addresses – these include both inactive and wrong addresses, the two groups above.

If you think about it – why would you have such addresses on your email list? Maybe you have users who signed up too long ago and their addresses are no longer in use? Or, your subscribers left “fake” email addresses in your signup form contacts to make sure you won’t bother them? Like when you give the wrong phone number to a guy who you don’t like and want to get rid of. Or, you got your email list from somewhere and you didn’t know how these users got on the list in the first place, so maybe they tricked you with a bad list? 

Each hard bounce is a clear signal to remove the problematic address from your list ASAP. Email service providers would flag you if you get too many hard bounces since they would recognize a “spam pattern” – they would think you bought or scraped emails, or you are trying to “guess” emails within an organization, or else. Hence, failing to remove such emails immediately can harm your sending reputation with mail providers.

SiteGround Email Marketig users can safely rely on us to take immediate action and “suppress” hard bounce email addresses so you can never send emails to them again and thus avoid penalties. If we see an abnormally high rate of bounced emails while sending out a campaign for you, we would pause it in order to prevent any bad consequences. 

Soft Bounces

Soft bounces are temporary delivery failures due to issues that don’t necessarily indicate a problem with your mailing list, but usually result from full inboxes, messages exceeding mailbox limits, server problems and downtime, autoresponders, and others.

When these soft bounces occur, different email service providers may take different actions. At SiteGround we do not give up, but have a strategy to make multiple attempts to resend the email, starting with more frequent tries in the first few hours and then tapering off. This retry system is designed to deliver successfully your email campaign as soon as possible, ensuring it stays on track and reaches your subscribers’ inboxes in a timely manner. We aim to optimize email deliverability while maintaining the momentum of your email marketing efforts.

How to measure your email bounce rate?

Monitoring this metric is essential for a healthy email marketing strategy. To measure your bounce rate, count the number of bounced emails, divide it by the total number of sent emails and multiply by 100. Sounds like too much math, doesn’t it?

That is why our friendly Email Marketing platform does the math for you. We calculate the average email bounce rate that each of your email marketing campaigns generates, so we can help you with your campaign results analytics.

Screenshot from the Analytics section in SiteGround Email Marketing showing a very high bounce rate

The email bounce rate, calculated in the Analytics section of the Email Marketing platform shows the percentage of bounced email addresses. The Bounce rate in the Analytics section is an average bounce rate that consists of both soft and hard bounces

How to reduce your email bounce rate?

After analyzing the negative impact of a high bounce rate on your business operations, we give you the strategies for reducing it effectively. ​​Follow these best email practices diligently, and you will get better results. 

Remove unengaged and inactive emails

Clean your email list from inactive and unengaged subscribers every few months. Users who do not open your emails are not simply unengaged, they are likely to soon become “inactive” accounts. 

Do not buy email lists or scrape sites for emails

Maintaining fresh and clean mailing lists is a key practice for achieving a low email bounce rate and ensuring list quality. Avoid purchasing mailing lists at any cost, since they will not bring you the desired results if the users in it have not consented to receive your messages.

Implement Double Opt-In

With double opt-in, subscribers confirm their email address after the initial sign-up by clicking on a verification link sent to their inbox. Double opt-in allows you to enroll only valid email addresses in your list and ensures that the owner of the email is genuinely interested in your content and willing to engage. It’s a powerful way to protect your reputation as a sender and keep your email bounce rate on the low end.

Avoid Spammy Practices

Steer clear of tactics that trigger spam filters and rack up spam complaints. If you’re too aggressive or irrelevant, your emails might end up in the spam folder. Obviously, that is not your goal, so you must pay attention to what you include in your campaigns.

Sending emails with misleading subject lines or stuffing your content with excessive trigger keywords and salesy language are classic spammy practices. 

Monitor and Analyze All Campaign Performance Data

Keeping tabs on how your bounce rate and other email metrics isn’t just smart—it’s essential. As you have already seen in this article, bounce rates and spam rates and all engagement metrics are correlated and work together to assist email marketers in creating better content and keeping engaged email list. 

SiteGround Email Marketing tool gives you a clear view of your campaign’s performance. Access the Analytics section to review key metrics like open rates and click-through rates, which help you understand audience engagement.

A screenshot displaying the SiteGround Email Marketing Analytics page

That is where you get to check what works, what doesn’t, and how your audience is really feeling about your emails.


To wrap things up, remember that keeping your email bounce rate low is crucial for robust email marketing. Understanding the why and how of bounces empowers you to maintain a healthy sender reputation and ensures your emails effectively reach your audience.

Stay on top of cleaning your lists and avoid anything that might trigger spam filters. With these practices in place, paired with consistent monitoring, you’ll keep your bounce rate low and your engagement high.

So, take these insights, put them into practice, and watch as your email marketing efforts yield better results. 

Email Bounce Rates FAQs

1. What’s an acceptable email bounce rate?

An acceptable bounce rate is typically below 2%. Rates higher than this may indicate issues that need to be addressed.

2. How often should I clean my email list?

List hygiene should be an ongoing process, but a thorough cleaning every 3 to 6 months is a good practice.

3. Can a high email bounce rate affect my entire email marketing strategy? 

Yes, a consistently high bounce rate can lower your sender reputation. Especially if you get many hard bounces. That can potentially cause more of your emails to be sent to the spam folder.

4. Is there a difference between cleaning an email list and segmenting it? 

Yes, cleaning involves removing invalid or inactive subscribers. On the other hand, segmenting organizes active subscribers into specific groups for targeted campaigns.

5. How do I fix a high email bounce rate? 

To fix a high email bounce rate, start by cleaning your email list to remove invalid or inactive addresses. Implement a double opt-in process to ensure subscribers emails are valid, and adjust your email content to avoid triggering spam filters. Finally, monitor your campaigns to identify which emails bounce back and why, then make data-driven adjustments to your strategy.

Vladislava Karataneva

Technical Content Writer

Passionate about SEO content creation and WordPress. She is enthusiastic about lifelong learning and has an insatiable hunger for acquiring skills. Her philosophy: the learning journey is infinite, and the truth lies in the tech we tame.

Comments ( 3 )

author avatar

Douglas Oden

May 08, 2024

Does cleaning your email list by deleting emails fix the bounce rate?

author avatar

Lina Asenova Siteground Team

May 10, 2024

Hey there, cleaning your email list by removing invalid, inactive, or duplicate email addresses can significantly improve your bounce rate. Hard bounces occur when emails are sent to addresses that are invalid, misspelled, or no longer in use. Removing these addresses reduces the number of undeliverable emails, thereby lowering your hard bounce rate. An updated email list with engaged and valid recipients leads to higher open and click-through rates, ultimately improving the overall quality and deliverability of your emails. We hope this helps. If you have any other questions, don't hesitate to reach out directly to our support team using the steps outlined in this article: They will be happy to help!

author avatar

Stanislav Boyadzhiev

May 13, 2024

Great tool!


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