Why Aren't All Your Emails Delivered?

Not all emails sent are delivered. Yes, this may come as a surprise; we're sure that when we click the "send" button, that message will be received. We hit the send button and turn our backs with a feeling of satisfaction, a job well done.

Unfortunately, this is not always the case.

Sending an email is very much like door-to-door sales in the old-fashioned sense. The emails you send are like the salespersons, and they go door-to-door (to different contacts), asking if the message can be delivered.

First, there's the famous "knock-knock", and then "Hello there, Mr. or Miss..." coming from the vacuum cleaner salesperson.Then, there are only three possible outcomes to knocking on the recipient's door:

1.The recipient is home, available, and the message is delivered:
Email Terminology: Available recipient.

2.The recipient is not home, and you try again later:
Email Terminology: Softbounce recipient.

3.The recipient is not home because the house is abandoned:
Email Terminology: Hardbounce recipient.

The first and the third outcomes (Available and Hardbounce) are easy to understand; the email is either good, or the email is dead.The interesting part of this story is what happens when your recipient's email is classified as a "softbounce".

To understand a "softbounce" better, I'll define it further:

A "softbounce" is an email that gets as far as the recipient's email server (front door), but is bounced back undelivered before it gets to the intended recipient. Source.

Why do the emails softbounce?

The recipient's inbox is full, or the inbox memory is over quota.The recipient's mail server is busy and can't deal with your message right now.Your message is put on hold until the server has time to handle it appropriately.

What can be done to manage "softbounce" emails?

The first line of defense is to maintain a clean and up-to-date email list. This will reduce the amount of softbounces.

The second line of defense is to set a "softbounce management policy" at the email sending server level. What does this mean? Your IT person gives the email sending server instructions as to what to do with the returned softbounce email. For example, all the eNewsletters we produce for our clients that softbounce are redelivered every three hours for the next 72 hours, in an attempt to complete the delivery.

Do you have to worry about softbounces if you're sending one email to one recipient?

Probably not, unless it's a super important message and you want to ensure the recipient gets it. Softbounce emails really become a concern when you're communicating to a large group: you've spent time, money, and effort in creating a message, and you want to ensure that it reaches the largest number of recipients possible.

Keep in mind that the best thing you can do to manage softbounce emails is to keep your email list updated.I hope I was able to shed some light on the ever-changing and complex world of email communications.

As always, we are here to help. If you are interested in starting or improving on your eNewsletter program contact us.

Marcos J. Menendez

PresidentLoop Consulting Group, LLC