Some bounces are inevitable, but several strategies can reduce your exposure.

1. Switch to opt-in email.
Many studies show that opt-in email outperforms opt-out messaging sent to third-party lists. Also, more countries now mandate opt-in, including Canada, whose anti-spam legislation goes into effect July 1, 2014.

2. Use email verification at opt-in.
These services, such as SafeToSend by FreshAddress, can detect a malformed email address right at opt-in and ask the customer to correct errors, thus keeping more invalid addresses out of your database.

3. Send confirmation emails after opt-in.
This will weed out invalid emails before they go into your general database.

4. Send emails to test addresses before sending to the full list.
Like canaries in coalmines, test addresses can warn you about delivery issues before you launch a major campaign.

5. Sign up for ISP feedback loops.
ISPs use these to tell you which recipients clicked the spam button on your message. If you keep emailing to complaining addresses, you risk having all of your messages blocked.

6. Remove hard-bouncing emails immediately.
Your email system should be set up to remove invalid addresses immediately. If it isn’t, ask to have this change made ASAP. Otherwise, it can hinder your ability to send emails to most ISPs.

7. Stay on top of your delivery reports.
These reports tell you with varying degrees of accuracy or clarity which error codes your messages triggered. Ask your database manager for help in reading the reports and interpreting the codes.

8. Monitor delivery by domain.
If you see that that a specific ISP is blocking your emails, you can more easily get to the root of the problem. Most ISPs list specific protocols for resolving problems on their websites.

9. Make sure your SPF and DKIM authentication records are accurate.
Most ISPs require some form of authentication in order to accept messages. Check with your database manager to be sure this has been done or is in process.

10. Clean your list regularly to remove invalid, repeated soft-bouncing, or inactive addresses.
Addresses that soft-bounce frequently might be abandoned mailboxes and could get converted into ISP or blacklist spam traps. Move inactive addresses off your active list and create a reactivation program for them.

 11. Use Email Change of Address to reach out to lost email owners.
FreshAddress’ patented ECOA technology can reconnect you with previously active customers in a safe, secure format. You’ll retain more customers, recoup lost acquisition costs, and stay in good standing with the ISPs.

Email delivery can be a tricky business. Got questions? Let us know in the comments below.

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