Bounce … Bounce … Bounce – Catch!

17 Mar 2011

Tracking bounced emails has always been tricky, not least because different email mailservers don’t play fair!

When you send an email, your recipients (that’s the guy or gal you are sending to) mail server either accepts the email or rejects it, these rejections fall into two categories – Hard and Soft bounces. As a general rule of thumb Hard bounces are the emails that don’t get delivered due to permanent failure such as a wrong address or domain and soft bounces are the ones that might be temporary, perhaps the mailbox quota is full or the service is temporarily unavailable

There are

a series of rules that are supposed to be followed, these include how the Header of the email is structured. Not all mail servers follow these rules and therefore we sometimes have to make an educated guess at what should happen. If we were just to rely on the ‘structured correct’ responses then the bounce-back statistics and management would not be accurate.

We have recently added a feature that is in the Beta testing phase which helps track bounce-backs and manage the data that is available in OpenCRM.

If you send an email to someone and the receiving mailserver rejects the email the reply that they send back explaining this (that’s the bounce-back email) is scanned. We process the bounce-back using a number of rules, these are;

Is there a CRM ID TAG within the reply – often when a bounce-back email is received it has all or part of the original message. If this is the case the CRM ID TAG that we hide within the body can be found and processed.

Does the email contain the email address of the recipient – we use a number of methods to look for the recipient address. Again once when we find the appropriate information we process the mail.

What user defined rules have been set up within OpenCRM and does the email being returned contain any matches for these rules. If there is a match then the email is processed accordingly.

What does it mean when we ‘process’ the email?

We do a number of things when we process the email. Firstly we remove the email address from the main email field and place it in a bounce history field. This field holds the email address that has been bounced along with the type of bounce and date that the bounce happened. We also mark the record as having had an email bounce. We also update a specific field that shows if this record has been bounced (Yes/No) and the last bounce date.

If the recipient was linked to an Active Campaign then the bounce count on the Campaign is incremented as well.

There are a number of management tools you can use to see what is going on with your bounce management. You can run a Bounce Email report to see all of the bounce emails to take a closer look at what is being returned. You can also run a view of records that have been bounced as well as filtering these records over a date range.

One tip is that you can create a report within OpenCRM and schedule when this report should be run and also who should receive the report by email. This will allow you to create a single report that, for example, lists all of the bounced emails from the previous month and have this report sent to your administrator for them to deal with and follow up. This can be automated so that you can be reactive to what is required without going hunting for information.