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Cold Email, my emails are bouncing... How bad is it doctor ? πŸš‘

Cold email and bounce rate


Suppose you are used to sending emailing / mass-mailing (e.g. > 5,000 emails/day) with a high Hard Bounce rate (> 20%). In that case, this will impact the reputation of your sender domain and limit the deliverability of your future campaigns.


Cold Email

On the other hand, if you send Cold Emails (< 200 emails/day) and contrary to the legend, your Hard Bounce rate will have no impact on et sender's domain reputation.

If you get bounces, don't panic!

Let's take the time to analyze your Bounce together to discover THE winning strategy πŸ˜‰.

calm down

A bounce is an email return that you have sent. The recipient does not receive it temporarily or permanently. Then, you receive an error message informing you of this.

The bounce rate is an indicator of the deliverability of your campaigns.


But be careful. For a relevant analysis, you must differentiate between 3 types of Bounce and their impacts:

  • Soft Bounce: A soft bounce is a temporary delivery error related to the inbox server: inbox full, message too heavy, server temporarily unavailable... However, the email address is correct.
    πŸ€—β†’ shoot again.
  • Hard Bounce: We talk about hard bounce when an email address is invalid. There are several reasons for this: either a typo in the email address, or the contact is no longer part of the company, or the email address is fake .
    ️ βš β†’ delete the email address, and don't shoot anymore.
  • Reject/Refuse Bounce by mail servers that identify an email as unsolicited and some have recently implemented automatic rejection/bounce rules 😬.
    β†’ Follow the recommendations below πŸ‘‡ and shoot again.

It is essential to distinguish between Hard Bounce and Reject/Refused Bounce.

Currently, no Cold Email solution has implemented analysis and rules to differentiating these 3 types of bounce.
But we are convinced that the most performant of them (lemlist, QuickMail, Mixmax, Woodpecker...) will soon make an update πŸ˜‰.


πŸ“£ The rules have changed: unsolicited emails are now detected

As email users, we are happy that unsolicited promotional emails, newsletters, spam, phishing ... are increasingly filtered and processed automatically to free up our mailboxes.

Since June 2020, messaging and anti-spam solutions have made a major update and have perfected the detection of unsolicited emails, including Cold Emails.


Some email rules automatically reject these emails (Reject/Refuse bounce), which, since June 2020, increases the overall bounce rate.

Even if your domain is not blacklisted, this no longer guarantees good deliverability.

As a Cold Email sender, this requires us to adapt our strategy.


7 anti-bounce rules

There are some indicators of unsolicited emails to prevent your cold emails from being rejected in the Refused bounce mode. We give you the right tactics!


1. You have to configure your Custom Domain

Why is this important?
If you have not set up your Cold Email solution to track openings and sent emails from your domain name, you share a domain name with other campaign senders.

And since they most likely do not apply all the good practices πŸ‘Ώ, you, unfortunately, inherit their "reputation" and suffer the consequences.

That's how since June 2020, more and more Cold Emails are identified and rejected - Rejet/Refuse Bounce


How to do it?
If you have not configured your Custom Domain, let our tutorial guide you.


2. Your Custom Tracking Domain must be the same as your sender's domain.


Why is this important?
If the domain you use to send your emails is different from the one that tracks opening rates and link clicks, your emails are more likely to be identified as unsolicited.
You should not send your emails with, for example, dc@dropcontact.io and track openings and clicks with track.dropcontact.net.

How do you do it
Configure your Custom Domain with the same domain to send and track your emails.
For example, send an email with dc@dropcontact.io and track openings and clicks with track.dropcontact.io


3. Delete your indicators / KPI's πŸ˜‡


Why is this important?
Cold Email solutions use the "one-pixel call" technique stored on their servers to identify the opening of emails.

In the same way, the clicks and links tracking will also point to these servers.

In the first few days of launching your Cold Email campaign, it is crucial to measure its effectiveness (open rate, click rate) and iterate until you reach a minimum open rate of 60%-70%.


Once you have reached this rate, tracking is not mandatory. It becomes only "Vanity KPI" for itself or reporting purposes. The monitoring in place is an accurate indicator of the identification of unsolicited emails: is it more important to have numbers or results?
In the example below, we can see that the tracking link (even though it is configured as a Custom Domain) is on a lemlist.com server with the IP (the Cold Email solution that Dropcontact uses πŸ˜‰):


ip results


Therefore, the tracking link refers to a Cold Email solution server and can be identified as unsolicited.


How do you do it?
Caution tip:
after a few days, remove the opening tracking; and link tracking when you have reached the desired opening rate.

The deliverability of your campaign will soar.

In addition, the opening and tracking links for Cold Email solutions, included in the email content, point to an address such as http:// and not https://.
This is also a hint for detecting unsolicited emails, but the most advanced solutions will probably adapt in the coming weeks/months.


4. Do not create a new domain to send Cold Emails!


Why is it important?
In Cold Email, the number of emails sent per day should be kept low and the sender's email address should behave as close as possible to a standard email box.

The forwarding address of a new domain that only sends emails has a high chance of being identified as a sender of unsolicited emails.

In Cold Email, you don't have to create a new domain!

In contrast to the emailing, we recommend creating a new domain close (e.g., dropcontact.net) to its usual domain (e.g., dropcontact.io), and then to "heat the sending email address" by sending progressively and daily an increasing number of emails.


How to do it?
You have to use the email address that you use professionally daily.

That is to say, an email address that sends and mainly receives emails: an email address that already has a history and where there is no need to heat it.

In short, your actual business email address 😎


Don't forget that, unlike email campaigns, in Cold Email, your objectives, attainable, are an opening rate higher than 60%-70% and a response rate higher than 20%-25%.


5. Configure SPF, DKIM, and DMARC records


Why is it important?
These protocols are technologies used to secure your email system to authenticate and legitimize an email and its sender.
The SPF and DKIM are the minimums to set up. There are many articles and posts on the web that describe and explain how to do this.

Nevertheless, DMARC settings have become a decisive element since June 2020 in the criteria for detecting unsolicited emails. It is used as a contributor to the anti-abuse controls of a domain.

Suppose your sender's domain and email address is not authenticated or certified. In that case, the server will not be able to confirm that your email has not been intercepted or altered during transmission or that your address is not spoofed.


How do you do it?
In our tutorial, we give you all the keys to configure your domain correctly, including the configuration of DMARC.

πŸ“£ On July 21, 2020, Google launched the BIMI (Brand Indicators for Message Identification) pilot. Ultimately, it now allows organizations that authenticate their emails via DMARC to validate the ownership of their corporate logos and securely transmit them to Google.


6. Verify your email addresses


Why is it important?
To get a reasonable opening rate and a good Cold Email campaign quality, you need to send your emails to a maximum of valid and fully verified addresses

How do you do it?
Only use email addresses that have been checked beforehand.

There are many email verification solutions on the market. For your information, but 🀫, most of them use exactly the same white label service/API.

πŸ’‘ The particular CATCH-ALL domains case 🧲

Your recipient can configure his company domain as standard or catch-all.

Verification (before sending) on a domain configured as standard gives results reliability higher than 90% for most solutions (98% for emails verified or delivered by Dropcontact).

⚠️ Email verification test β‰  email sending test


On a catch-all domain, verification is IMPOSSIBLE because the domain accepts all emails sent on this domain. For example, if the domain @dropcontact.io is configured in catch-all, the email address blablablabla@dropcontact.io will never be identified as invalid.

By definition, on a catch-all domain, no verification solution on the market (ZeroBounce, NeverBounce, Bouncer, BriteVerify, Debounce, Dropcontact...) can identify if a catch-all email address exists or not.

But, on some catch-all domains, when you send an email to a catch-all address, it can send a Hard Bounce if the address is non-existent.

That's why even if you have checked your email address file, you may still get Hard Bounce on catch-all domains.


πŸ’₯ Our recommendation:


In Cold Email, bounces have absolutely NO impact on the reputation of your sending domain.

Never ban catch-all domains from your Cold Email campaigns. Otherwise, you will remove many large companies from your prospecting.

And even if some emails will bounce and others will never be received (example: the recipients are no longer part of the company), others will be read and will generate significant opportunities πŸ’°πŸ’°

And even if some emails will bounce and others will never be received (example: the recipients are no longer part of the company) others will be read and will generate great opportunities πŸ’°πŸ’°

πŸ’‘All email addresses provided by Dropcontact are already fully tested and qualified 🀩 by our own algorithms and test servers.

There is absolutely no need to check them again in some solutions such as ZeroBounce, NeverBounce, Bouncer, BriteVerify, Debounce... unless you want to spend money unnecessarily πŸ’ΈπŸ˜œ

Comparison of 469 invalid catch-all email addresses

Status Invalid
Good detection
Wrong detection
Wrong detection
Debounce 14% 16% 70%
Dropcontact 9% 13% 78%
Bouncer 7% 16% 77%
DataValidation 5% 4% 91%
NeverBounce 6% 15% 79%
ZeroBounce 4% 17% 79%
BriteVerify 4% 21% 75%
DataValidation 5% 4% 91%

This analysis is carried out on the basis of a file of 469 invalid catch-all email addresses, after sending an email and receiving a message back from Hard Bounce.
This table shows that no verification solution on the market is not able to verify Hard Bounce for sure and especially on email addresses configured in catch-all. .


7. Create a special unsubscribe link


Why is it important?
Since the implementation of GDPR, B2B commercial prospecting by email is still allowed but requires you to put an unsubscribe link in your emails.

Be careful. Unsubscription links contribute to Reject/Refused Bounce.

Here are the 3 tell-tale signs of an unsolicited email πŸ“ͺ :

  • the structure
  • the terms used (type: unsubscribe, unsubscribe ...)
  • the link location


How do you do it?
Here, you have to be innovative, and we let you imagine your tricksπŸ’‘ to set up to have an unidentifiable unsubscription link by re-reading the 3 clues above ... 🧐


A final check before launching your campaign


final check


Check that your domain is not blacklisted.
For many years, mail servers have been registering domains in blacklist databases (SORBS, Spamhaus, BARRACUDA, DNSBL, RBL...) spam.

If your domain is blacklisted in one or more of these lists, many emails you send will never be delivered 🀷

Make sure your domain is not in any of these lists by testing your domain on mxtoolbox.

One last point: send an email from your sender address, the one you use for your Cold Emails, to your personal Gmail address, for example. Once received, go to the menu, select View Original or View Message Details.


email body


Then copy and paste the content into the Mxtoolbox email header parser.

You will know if your domain is clean and perfectly configured πŸ—½

You now have all the secrets and techniques to get around Reject/Refused Bounce (the game of 🐈 and 🐁) and stop to confusing them with Hard Bounce. Now, you will be able to ensure good deliverability.


πŸ€“ To go even further:


Most frequently asked questions

What's a hard bounce?

A hard bounce is a fatal error when sending an email. It can be cause by a wrong syntax in the email address, by an obsolete email address, by your recipient banning your email, or by your domain name being tagged as spam. It then becomes impossible to send a message to a "hard bounce" email address.

What's a soft bounce?

A soft bounce is a reply given after an email has been sent. It's a temporary rejection of your email by your recipient's provider.

What do you mean by campaign deliverability?

he deliverability of your email campaigns secures their success. It corresponds to the number of emails actually delivered and received to your recipients. Some emails never reach their destination...Email deliverability relies on the quality of the email addresses you're using, but not solely!You must properly set up your domain name before sending out your first emails and your first email campaigns
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