What are bounces and spam complaints?

A bounce is when an email is returned back to Postmark’s email servers after being sent.

This can happen for many reasons:

  • Hard Bounce: The email address no longer exists.
  • Soft Bounce, Auto Responder: The person is out of the office or the mailbox is full and not accepting emails.
  • Transient, Message Delayed, DNS Error: There were problems connecting to the person’s mail server.
  • Challenge Verification: A message was returned asking for approval.
  • Unsubscribe, Address Change: A change of address or unsubscribe was requested.

For a full list of possible bounce types, head here.

How Postmark handles bounces

In Postmark, detailed information for each bounced email is provided. When emails are identified as Hard Bounce or Spam Complaint they are automatically deactivated from your list. The next time you send, these emails will be disregarded. This is done to remain polite to the ISPs and improve delivery, as well as keep your database clean.

Keep in mind that each server’s bounce reports are independent and not associated. Also, deactivated emails help you reduce credit usage since they are no longer sent messages.

To view the detailed bounce information for each email, go to the Inbound page for the Server. At the top you can filter by any bounce type.

Viewing detailed bounce information

When you open a particular email to check the bounce, click on Hard Bounce (or whatever other type of bounce) to open the full SMTP response.

What you can do about bounced emails

Understanding which emails bounce will help you react and improve customer response. For instance, if your invoice emails are bouncing to a customer, you can notify them in your site to update their profile. Bounces also help you understand if emails are getting blocked for content reasons. Here are some specific details…

False positives

In some cases, an email might hard bounce, but still be valid due to the way the server rejected the message. If you feel an email was bounced incorrectly, you can activate the email again by clicking on the Reactivate link next to the email address. We also provide a notify option to help us resolve any issues with our bounce parser. We appreciate your feedback.

Address Change

If an address change is requested, it is best to contact those subscribers individually and ask for the new email address. You can then edit the subscribers information in your own database to make sure your list is up to date.

Challenge Verification

Some subscribers sign up for services that force you to confirm your identity (email) before they accept emails from you. This is called a Challenge/Response. If you noticed some bounced emails with this status, we also recommend that you contact these subscribers individually to be granted sending access to the person’s email.

Spam Complaints

A spam complaint is recorded when a subscriber click This is Spam or Mark as Spam in email clients like Yahoo, Hotmail, AOL, and other similar services. While you should not have any spam complaints, they do happen. Once a spam complaint is recorded, Postmark will deactivate this subscriber and will not let you reactivate it. In the email industry, spam complaints are a clear metric to determine abuse and poor sending practices. It’s important that we take these reports seriously to ensure the best delivery for all customers. If you feel a spam complaint has a reason for being reactivated, please contact Postmark support directly.

Spam Notification

This usually means that your content was rejected by a mail server. This could be due to rigid corporate policies and the receiving mail server or some bad choice of words in your email (we recommend not mentioning “viagra”) :)

Blocked

While you should not see this type, it does happen. A block usually means that our IP address or server was rejected from the receiving mail server. We constantly monitor delivery and reputation to prevent this. However, by including this information in your account it provides both advanced warning and the ability to resend emails that were blocked.

Last updated February 7th, 2017

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