Robotic hand gather cube 3d. Artificial intelligence. Isolated oAlthough automation is a kind of Holy Grail for those of us in email marketing, total automation is not always the best answer…or the best practice. Some things still need some degree of personal attention, like hard bounces.

Email best practices say to remove hard bounces from your in-house email list for proper list hygiene. Often it is your email service provider (ESP) who does that on your behalf, automatically without any regard to the significance of that email address. In most cases, this kind of automated list hygiene works just fine.

However, there is a caveat to this: Some of those hard bounces are for people you really, really want to keep on your list. Therefore, we recommend you have someone—or some system—reviewing your hard bounces, to make sure important names don’t automatically and inadvertently get dropped from your database.

As an example, this happened to us once. A member of the ClickMail staff was reviewing the email reporting after a send and just happened to notice an important name on the hard bounces list. We reached out to the person and confirmed that they did in fact want to stay on our list and the hard bounce was just a fluke.

How many of your hard bounces are flukes causing you to lose touch with people that matter? Think about all the different types of people your business wants to stay in contact with. Critical names on your email list might belong to:

  • Customers
  • Prospects
  • Vendors
  • Partners
  • Stakeholders
  • Members of the media

Most systems don’t automatically try to resend to hard bounces. Unlike a soft bounce which will be re-emailed a few times before being flagged as a hard bounce, there is usually no “three strikes you’re out” for a hard bounce.

That’s why we recommend having some kind of system or review process to monitor your hard bounces, just in case. You might start by flagging the people that matter most. Then have either an automated system or a person keep an eye on your email reporting to watch for hard bounces from those names that matter most. (And have a plan for how to handle the situation if it does arise.)

Monitoring your hard bounces doesn’t have to be complicated, but it should be consistent…and only automated if that works to keep your business on the minds of the people that matter most.

Published On: October 29th, 2013Categories: Automated emailTags:

About the Author: Sharon

Sharon Ernst from is on a mission to improve the business and marketing writing skills of today’s workforce with her blog, newsletter and online classes. Her newest class on intermediate email copywriting covers 19 tips and techniques non-copywriters can put to use right away for better results. The class has real-life examples and before/after comparisons to make the lessons stick. Find her class at When she’s not busy helping employees, managers and marketers master their writing skills, she and her husband are busy raising pigs, cows, chickens and vegetables on their 20-acre farm.

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