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Bounce Message definition

Bounce Message (© profit_image /

Bounce Message (© profit_image /

A bounce message is a crucial message that all internet marketers need to be looking out for if they want to maintain their ‘list hygiene’ and avoid being blacklisted. Find out what all this means and why it’s so important for YOU.

If you’re a digital marketer, then chances are you will have dealt with email marketing at least to some degree. And if you haven’t? Then you should get involved!

Many claim that email marketing is the single most important form of marketing for increasing your engagement and for increasing your reach. Email gives you a way to communicate with your audience right in their inbox and therefore to reach them in a much more direct and personal way. With no platform in between you such as Facebook or Twitter, there is no chance of your list suddenly being rendered obsolete. And because it’s so personal, you can build real relationships with your audience this way.

But email marketing also requires a number of specific skills and activities that are unique to the format. If you’re used to PPC and blogging, then you might not be familiar with all these nuances and you might not realize the importance of list hygiene and bounce messages.

What is List Hygiene

List hygiene means that you’re maintaining your email list and keeping it ‘clean’. By that, we mean that you’re ensuring that all the names on the list are a) real people and b) people who really want to be there and who are interested in what you have to say.

Partly, this is accomplished by the way you collect the emails in the first place. If you strongarm people into signing up to your list (leave this box unticked…) then you will have people who are there by accident. Similarly, you need to avoid spam email addresses from signing up and you need to keep out the spam.

OpenPr-Tip: Likewise though, it also means keeping an eye on the data you get back. Among other things, that means looking for bounce messages that tell you a message wasn’t delivered. This tells you an email may not be real, or may since have been abandoned and that means you should delete it from your list to maintain optimum hygiene.

Why it Matters

Not only will poor email hygiene not work in the short term, but it can also lead to serious damage in the long term. We touched on this in a previous report where we discussed the issue of trying to avoid getting your messages sent to spam.

Sender reputation’ is a score that is shared between email providers and that works very similarly to a credit score. The idea is that email providers and clients share your details and how your emails are performing. If it is found that emails from your IP or domain name are consistently being blocked and consistently being ignored, then this will result in a bad sender reputation. It may even lead to you getting completely blacklisted by some providers.

And guess what? This now renders your email list almost entirely useless as none of your messages are now going to reach their recipients. If you’ve been building your mailing list up over a long time, then you will lose all that hard work because now you’re not going to be able to reach any of the contacts on said list. Even when you do get through, if most of the people who receive your messages simply ignore them, then this will ultimately amount to a waste of your time.

Then there’s the fact that poor hygiene will damage your statistics and metrics. A big part of succeeding in email marketing – or any form of marketing for that matter – is being able to reflect on the numbers that you see when you send your messages. Ideally, you should be able to see what percentage of your messages are getting through, which types of message are most successful etc.

But if your messages aren’t getting through at all, or they’re getting through in very small numbers, then you won’t have the data to crunch. It might be that women don’t respond as well to your messages, or it might be that the women you added to your list never had any interest in your brand. If you ever come to sell your mailing list as an exit strategy, then you’ll find that smart buyers will always want to see details like open rate etc. This means that poor email hygiene will render your mailing list effectively worthless and ultimately prevent you from getting any profit from it.

So, with all that in mind, quality is much more important than quantity when it comes to your list. And that means watching your hygiene. In particular, it means looking out for bounce messages and removing subscribers accordingly.

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The original SMTP mail service provides limited mechanisms for tracking a transmitted message, and none for verifying that it has been delivered or read. It requires that each mail server must either deliver it onward or return a failure notice (bounce message), but both software bugs and system failures can