What is a Soft Bounce?

A soft bounce in email marketing refers to an email that is temporarily undeliverable and returned to the sender, but the issue causing the non-delivery is expected to be temporary. Common reasons for a soft bounce include a full recipient mailbox, a down server, or overly large email size. Unlike a hard bounce, which indicates a permanent delivery problem (such as a non-existent email address), a soft bounce suggests that there may be future success in delivering the email if the temporary issue is resolved or if the email is resent at a later time.

Importance of Soft Bounce

Email Deliverability Management

Understanding and managing soft bounces is crucial for maintaining good email deliverability and sender reputation. High bounce rates can affect the sender’s reputation negatively, potentially leading to emails being blocked or sent to spam folders.

Improving Email Campaign Performance

Analyzing the causes of soft bounces can help marketers optimize their email campaigns. This may involve adjusting email size, timing, and frequency to reduce bounce rates and improve engagement.

Enhancing Subscriber Engagement

By monitoring soft bounce rates and addressing the underlying issues, businesses can ensure that their communications reach a maximum number of subscribers, thus maintaining and enhancing engagement.

Effective Strategies for Managing Soft Bounces

Monitor Bounce Rates

Regularly monitor your email campaign’s bounce rates to identify trends or issues with email deliverability that need to be addressed.

Optimize Email Size

Ensure that your emails are within size limits acceptable by most email servers to avoid bounces caused by overly large emails.

Clean Up Email Lists

Periodically review and clean up your email lists to remove subscribers who consistently result in soft bounces, as ongoing issues might eventually turn into hard bounces.

Improve Server Configuration

Work with your IT team or email service provider to ensure that your email server is configured correctly and capable of handling email traffic efficiently.

Challenges in Managing Soft Bounces

Identifying Causes

Determining the specific cause of a soft bounce can be difficult, as bounce messages may not always provide clear or accurate information.

Managing Subscriber Expectations

When subscribers do not receive expected emails due to soft bounces, it can lead to frustration and decreased satisfaction, impacting the customer relationship.

Balancing Resend Attempts

Deciding when and how often to attempt resending emails that have soft bounced without causing annoyance or additional deliverability issues requires careful consideration.


Soft bounces are a common challenge in email marketing but can be managed effectively with the right strategies. By monitoring bounce rates, optimizing email characteristics, cleaning email lists, and improving technical setups, businesses can minimize the impact of soft bounces. Understanding and addressing the underlying issues behind soft bounces are essential for maintaining a healthy email marketing program, preserving sender reputation, and ensuring that marketing messages reach their intended audiences.