Soft Bounce

In the sphere of email marketing, particularly when distributing email newsletters, the term Soft Bounce is essential to comprehend. A Soft Bounce refers to an email that is temporarily rejected by the recipient’s mail server. Unlike a hard bounce, which indicates a permanent delivery failure (such as an invalid email address), a soft bounce suggests a transient issue, like a full inbox, server downtime, or an email message that is too large.

Implementation Examples:

  1. Full Inbox: When a recipient’s mailbox is full and cannot accept new messages, emails sent to this address will result in a soft bounce. For instance, marketing platforms like Mailchimp and SendGrid will detect and categorize the email as a soft bounce.
  2. Server Issues: If the recipient’s email server is temporarily down or experiencing issues, any email sent during this period will bounce softly. Understanding the patterns and frequency of such bounces can help in deciding whether to resend the email later.
  3. Email Size: Emails that exceed size limits set by the recipient’s email provider can cause a soft bounce. This is more common in newsletters containing large images or video attachments.

Interesting Facts:

  • Temporary Failures: Soft bounces indicate temporary problems, and the email server may still attempt to deliver the message over an extended period (usually a few days).
  • Handling Soft Bounces: Most email marketing platforms automatically handle soft bounces by retrying delivery a couple of times before registering the final status. They might set thresholds (e.g., marking an address as undeliverable after several consecutive soft bounces).

Benefits of Monitoring Soft Bounces:

  • List Hygiene: Regularly monitoring and managing soft bounces can help maintain a healthier email list, optimizing delivery rates and improving sender reputation.
  • Improved Deliverability: By addressing the issues causing soft bounces, marketers can improve the overall deliverability of their email campaigns, ensuring that more messages reach the intended recipients.

Key Considerations:

  • Multiple Soft Bounces: Although soft bounces are temporary, multiple instances for the same recipient could suggest an underlying issue. It might be prudent to temporarily suppress such addresses or send re-engagement campaigns.
  • Content Strategy: Revisiting the content and format of your emails (like reducing file sizes) can prevent soft bounces related to email size. Tools that compress images and optimize content can be beneficial.

Best Practices:

  • Automated Handling: Employ email marketing software that automatically manages soft bounces. Platforms like HubSpot and Campaign Monitor provide customization in handling bounces, ensuring temporary issues do not affect the long-term health of your email list.
  • Regular Audits: Conduct regular audits of your email list to identify addresses with frequent soft bounces. Understanding the root cause allows you to take appropriate action, such as reaching out to those subscribers through alternative methods to update their contact information.
  • Subscriber Communication: Inform your subscribers about the importance of keeping their inboxes clean and ensuring your email address is whitelisted. This can be communicated through your website or email footer instructions.


Understanding and effectively managing soft bounces is crucial for maintaining high email deliverability rates in email marketing. While they indicate temporary and often resolvable issues, ignoring them can lead to degraded sender reputation and lower engagement rates over time. By implementing strategic monitoring, utilizing proper email marketing tools, and periodically addressing the root causes, marketers can ensure they reach a broader portion of their audience, thereby enhancing the success of their email campaigns.

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