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Online Marketing Performance Indicators, Part 1: Bounces and Delivery Rate
14.05.18 | 0 Comments | Author: Eva Pach

The first part of the series “Online Marketing Performance Indicators” is about the indicators delivery rate and bounce rate. Both can help you to assess the quality of your e-mail distribution list. This, in turn, directly influences the potential effectiveness of your e-mail campaigns: only e-mails which succeed in reaching your target group can lead to the intended actions that you would like your recipients to take, for example to request a quotation or to subscribe to a newsletter.

After all, running an e-mail campaign with a distribution list of several thousand recipients by no means guarantees that this number of people will actually receive your message.

Bounces and bounce rate

An e-mail which was sent but not delivered is called a bounce.

There are several possible causes for a failed delivery: if, for example, the inbox of the recipient is full or the recipient is ill, travelling or on vacation and has thus set up an “out of office” notification, the recipient will be temporarily unavailable. The corresponding e-mail address will then generate a so-called soft bounce.

A hard bounce occurs when e-mails are permanently undeliverable, for example because the recipient has left the company or the company no longer exists.

bounces, bounce rate, delivery rate

The conventional bounce rate covers both forms of bounces. Because, by definition, soft bounces are (initially) considered a temporary issue – a recipient on holiday can again be reached by e-mail after returning – it is better to focus on hard bounces when evaluating and improving data quality. Therefore it is usually more appropriate to consider only hard bounces for determining the bounce rate.

The bounce rate allows you to assess the quality of the data you have about your recipients: the higher the bounce rate, the lower the quality of addresses. If you repeatedly contact the same recipients over a longer period and filter for bounces after each mail shot, for example by deleting the e-mail addresses of no longer existing companies from your distribution list, the bounce rate will improve over time.

This is a sensible thing to do for a further reason: repeatedly disseminating e-mails to invalid e-mail addresses reduces the reputation among e-mail providers of the mail server from where the e-mails are being sent. At some point, a reputation can become so bad that e-mails directed at perfectly valid addresses will not be delivered.

Delivery rate

The delivery rate is more or less the other side of the coin in terms of the quality of your distribution list.

bounces, bounce rate, delivery rate

The higher the delivery rate, the better the quality of the distribution list. And, in turn, increasing the quality of your addresses improves the potential effectiveness of your e-mail campaign. In principle, the more addresses you send your mail shots out to, the greater the effectiveness of your campaign. But only if an extensive e-mail distribution list also contains highest quality addresses will your campaign reach its full potential.

As part of its German 2014 study “E-mail Marketing Benchmark 2015”, the e-mail marketing provider Inxmail calculated an average bounce rate of 1.11 % for all its customers active in the B2B sector. In CHEMIE.DE’s marketing activities, the bounce and delivery rates can vary significantly from campaign to campaign. Our e-mail distribution lists constantly change due to, for example, company mergers, staff turnover and name changes. Therefore, the bounce rate we experience ourselves can be significantly higher than the average value determined by Inxmail, in particular when we contact that target group only rarely or for the very first time.

What are the bounce rates you typically encounter in your e-mail campaigns? And at which rate do your alarm bells start to ring?

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