Bounced emails: Your customers are telling you "no"

When your customer’s email hard bounces, it mostly means the email address doesn’t exist (yes, there are other reasons, but that’s the most common cause). So how does it bounce in the first place? Sometimes they mistyped it, other times it’s expired (they left the company, signed up a long time ago, etc).

One unpleasant reason is that they intentionally gave you an incorrect email address.

Postmark will keep your mailings clean by deactivating these bounces to be sure you aren’t emailing them again. But aside from the delivery concerns, as an application owner, you should be keeping a close eye on your app’s overall bounce rates as it’s a heartbeat of what’s going on in there. While you can’t control someone mistyping an email, you should be mindful if you have the fake address problem.

Bounces mean they don’t like you #

Like it or not, if someone is intentionally giving you a fake email address on registration, they’re just not that into you! If you have 10%+ of your welcome emails bouncing, we’ve found that this most likely means something in your offering, signup process, or communication technique is causing people to request NOT to hear from you.

I’ve seen this happen a lot when an app requires an email address to enter the site. People want to see what’s “hiding behind door number 1” before offering up their precious email address. They put a fake email just to see what’s going on in your app.

Maybe they like what they see and change their email or create a new account later, but in many cases they won’t. I’ve also encountered this in places where an email address is needed to post a comment on a forum. Not surprisingly, when someone posts something negative or derogatory, they give a fake email so there’s no tracing the author.

How this translates to the quality of your offering #

If you are seeing high bounce rates in your app, it’s very important to figure out the reason.

When you are asking someone for their email address, you are asking them to trust you with their contact information.

You’d better have a good reason for asking, and intend to use it respectfully. If you’re seeing people giving you a lot of fake emails, that probably means you haven’t earned their trust yet.

What can you do about it? #

Figure out why people don’t want you to contact them. Consider moving the process of asking for an email address to another point in your app.

In the most common example, where an email is a barrier to entry, you would simply move the email requirement to a user action. Some good places are when they make their first purchase, or when signing up to join the site or subscribe to a newsletter.

Your landing should not be an email field, because people have no idea who you are and why they should trust you with their email.

The most important lesson from bounces is that you’re losing potential users. You’ve spent money and time getting them to your site, and then lose them by forcing them to provide you with an invalid email, probably because you asked too fast.