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Difference between a Soft Bounce and Hard Bounce in Email Marketing Campaigns

HDM Admin - Friday, January 23, 2015

Email marketing campaigns represent a powerful tool to reach your customers on a consistent basis. However any time you send out a message to a large list of email recipients you my encounter a bounce back error message. The various messages that you may see all reflect one of two instances which occur in email marketing, a Soft Bounce, and a Hard Bounce.

Soft Bounce

A soft bounce normally happens when the receiving Mail Server is temporarily unable to receive the email. There are several reasons why this would happen. The following are typical reasons for soft bounces:

  • - No answer from host
  • - System not accepting network messages
  • - Other or undefined security status
  • - A server is unavailable or it’s down
  • - The server is overloaded
  • - The recipient’s mailbox is full
  • - Your message size is too big

Soft bounces would normally resolve itself. The HDM system would try 3 times to send your campaign to the recipient address. If the email address soft bounces 3 times, it would be considered as a hard bounce.

Hard Bounce

A hard bounce is more permanent. In terms of how email marketing works, one hard bounce removes the subscriber from the campaign.

There are several reasons why an email would hard bounce. The main characteristic though, is that it is a permanent rejection. The following are typical reasons for hard bounces:

  • - Address does not exist
  • - Bad destination mailbox address
  • - Other or undefined network or routing status
  • - Other or undefined protocol status
  • - Routing loop detected
  • - Unable to route

As a note, the bounce codes displayed on your report page are the codes that our servers receive from the receiving mail servers. It is important to know that it’s possible that these mail servers may provide codes that do not reflect the true nature of the bounce.


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