Nuts & Bolts: Better Bounce Definitions Wanted
E-mail metrics and bounce management have not kept pace with the evolution of e-mail marketing, reveals a recent report issued by the E-mail Experience Council. Based on surveys sent to 329 mailers and more than 25 e-mail service providers (ESPs), the State of Email Metrics & Bounce Management report identifies three key areas in which a lack of standards exist: the calculation of key metrics, such as delivery, open and click rates; bounce data and definitions; and bounce management.
In particular, the survey highlights a lack of consistent bounce definitions, i.e., what is considered a hard bounce versus a soft bounce. According to the survey, 50 percent of ESPs and 52 percent of mailers define a hard bounce by a 5XX permanent bounce code, which indicates a bad address, spam block or technical failure, while 25 percent of ESPs and 19 percent of mailers attribute a hard bounce to a bad address only.
“By including failures that may not be permanent, senders run the risk of compromising their mailing lists by removing ‘good’ e-mail addresses and retaining ‘bad’ ones,” write the report’s authors.
Indeed, as the chart below illustrates, nearly half (47 percent) of the mailers surveyed report removing an e-mail address after one hard 5XX permanent bounce, and 33 percent remove an address after three soft 4XX transient bounces. On the flip side, 17 percent report never removing an address for a soft transient bounce, and 9 percent never remove an address that returns a bad address code.
—Lisa Yorgey Lester