Earlier in the week, our very own Client Support Specialist Rob Slade wrote a post about contact status. In his post, Rob explained the difference between Active and Inactive contacts and explained how a contact can become one or the other. He also explained that Inactive contacts can have three different statuses (Bounce, Unconfirmed, and Unsubscribed). For this post we are going to focus on Inactive contacts with a status of Bounce.

What is a Bounce?

A bounce, or failed DSN (Delivery Status Notification), is an automated electronic message from a mail system informing the sender about a delivery problem with their (the sender's) original message. So in the context of the application, if you send a message and the delivery fails, our mail server will receive a bounce message explaining why the message bounced.

Bounce Science Made Easy!

Bounced messages are a complex topic and to tackle the whole subject would require a whole website, not just a single blog post. To take the hassle out of dealing with bounces, Bronto has developed a system for handling and displaying bounces that makes it much more manageable for our users. The first step in making this process easy for you is handling and interpreting the bounce messages. We take all the data contained in a bounce message and interpret it for you. So unless you generate a detailed tracking report, you will never actually see a bounce message code. What you need to know for sure is how we classify bounces.

At the highest level, we use the classification system of hard bounce and soft bounce in the same way ISPs do. Additionally, we have added a category for those bounces that are neither hard nor soft called Other. The Other category contains bounces that are unclassified. We try our best to keep bounces out of this category and apply a proper label to them.

From here, we further breakdown bounces into three types of soft bounces and three types of hard bounces.

  • Bad Email Address (Hard) - This means that the email server in question has indicated that this is not a valid account. Whether the contact has left that host, had a typo in their registration, or just that the email address was entirely made up cannot be discerned from this message. If you are seeing a lot of these then there may be a problem with you are growing your list or acquiring contacts.
  • Destination Unreachable (Hard) - This means that there was a connection issue with this email server. This is different than a Bad Email Address, which would result in immediate removal of the contact in question. This just means that we will not retry sending this specific email to this specific contact right now because it is not likely to succeed. Later deliveries to the contact may succeed.
  • Rejected Message Content (Hard) - This means that the email server has identified this message as spam. If you see a number of these, then you should probably take some time and review the message you are sending. You should also run your message through the Spam Test provided on the Message Overview page.
  • Temporary Contact Issue (Soft) - This means that there was a temporary issue at the receiving mail server with respect to the contact in question. An example of this is a Mailbox Full message. There isn't too much you can do about this. It may, however, may be an early indicator that a user has abandoned this email address.
  • Destination Temporarily Unreachable (Soft) - This means that there was a temporary issue at the receiving mail server, such as a Server Busy message. This may be resolved via retries. If it is not, there is little you can do about this.
  • Deferred Message Content (Soft) - This is quite similar to the Rejected Message Content bounce listed above. Messages aren't often identified this way, as ISPs don't want you to resend something they identify as spam.

What Is A Bounce Worth: 1's and 0's

A bounce will be placed within one of seven categories within the application. Six of the seven categories are assigned a 1 or a 0. This is where the bounce limit for your account comes into play. By default, the bounce limit is set to 5. If a contact accumulates 5 consecutive bounces with a 1 assigned to it, then the contact will be automatically given a status of inactive. A status of Inactive means the contact is disabled and cannot receive messages from you. The lone application bounce type that is not assigned a 1 or 0 is Bad Email Address. Contacts that bounce because of a Bad Email Address are immediately given a status of Inactive. Bounce Guide In Bronto.

We understand that this is a lot of information to cover in one post, but hopefully you now have a better understanding of how we classify bounces in Bronto. If you want to read more information on bounces, search for bounces in help and read A Guide to Bounces. You'll notice that this help topic is very similar to this post, however, it dives much deeper into the subject of bounces.

John Gunther
Technical Writer/eLearning Specialist at Bronto