9 Key Strategies to Reduce Email Bounces in Cold Outreach

Created On:
February 1, 2024
Updated On:
June 3, 2024
How to Reduce Email Bounce Rate for Cold Email Outreach | Smartlead

Noticing significantly high bounce rates in your cold email outreach campaigns? That's a sign that your emails aren't reaching your intended audience. When your emails fail to reach your audience, you're missing out on valuable opportunities for replies and potential growth.

In this article, we've got you covered with nine tried-and-true tips to help you lower your email bounce rate, enhance email deliverability, and ultimately increase the chances of getting more replies!

What is an Email Bounce Rate?

An email bounce rate is a metric that measures the percentage of emails from a specific campaign or sender that did not successfully reach the intended recipient's inbox. 

When you send an email, your email service provider collaborates with the recipient's email service provider to ensure successful delivery. However, if an email cannot be delivered for various reasons, it "bounces" back to the sender. These bounce backs reveal potential issues such as fake email addresses, full inboxes, or spam filters preventing delivery.

High bounce rates can have a negative impact on your email deliverability and sender reputation, which, in turn, affects the overall success of your cold email strategy. To ensure that your emails consistently land in the correct inbox and that your communication is effective, it's crucial to be a legitimate sender and maintain a clean list of email addresses. Furthermore, actively working to reduce your email bounce rate is essential for successful email outreach. By doing so, you not only optimize your email marketing efforts but also establish a strong sender reputation with email service providers (ESPs) and recipients, ultimately improving the chances of your emails reaching their intended audience.

Soft Bounce vs Hard Bounce: The Difference

Differentiating between a soft bounce and a hard bounce is crucial for optimizing email deliverability and minimizing bounce rates.

A soft bounce occurs when the email successfully makes it to the recipient's server but cannot be delivered to the inbox. This type of bounce is usually temporary and might result from issues like a recipient's inbox being full or temporary server problems. Soft bounces don't necessarily indicate a permanent problem with the email address itself.

On the other hand, a hard bounce signifies a permanent failure in email delivery. This typically happens due to invalid or non-existent email addresses, typos in the email address, inactive domains, or rejection by the recipient's server. Hard bounces are definitive and require corrective actions, such as removing invalid email addresses from your mailing list, to maintain the effectiveness of your cold emailing efforts. It's important to address hard bounces promptly to keep your email list clean and ensure that your messages reach the intended recipients.

How is the Email Bounce Rate Calculated?

Start by taking the number of emails that bounced back, those that couldn't be delivered for various reasons, and then divide it by the total number of emails you sent. After that, you just multiply the result by 100 to get the percentage.

For instance, if you send out 1,000 emails and you find that 50 of them bounced back, your email bounce rate is determined like this: (50 / 1000) * 100 = 5%. So, in this case, your bounce rate would be 5%, indicating that 5% of the emails you sent couldn't be delivered successfully.

What Makes an Ideal Bounce Rate?

A good bounce rate is typically defined as 2% or less. When you send out a batch of 100 emails and experience two or fewer bounces, your performance is considered satisfactory. However, it's essential to note that what constitutes a reasonable bounce rate can vary depending on several factors, including the nature of the emails you send and the quality of your email addresses. 

To maintain a low bounce rate and ensure optimal email deliverability, it's crucial to take proactive steps. These include regularly cleaning your email list, using double opt-in procedures to confirm subscriber interest, and having your own custom domain. These practices help enhance your chances of achieving and sustaining a good bounce rate while maximizing the effectiveness of your cold email campaigns.

9 Ways to Reduce Bounce Rates for Cold Email Outreach 

1. Update and Clean Your Email List Regularly

Regularly updating and cleaning your lead list is a crucial step in reducing bounce rates when conducting cold email outreach. High bounce rates can seriously harm your email deliverability, potentially causing your emails to be flagged as spam. As your subscriber base evolves, some email addresses change, become inactive, or even turn into spam traps. This accumulation of invalid or disinterested addresses can significantly affect your email bounce rate, overall deliverability, and your sender reputation.

However, by consistently cleaning your email list, you can identify and remove outdated, invalid, or dormant email addresses. This approach minimizes the risk of encountering email bounces and ensures that your messages reach genuine recipients who are more likely to engage with your content. It also aligns with the expectations of email service providers, as they prefer senders who maintain clean and authentic email lists.

In addition, regular list cleaning allows you to adapt to industry changes, embrace new email marketing strategies, and refine your targeting efforts. By periodically removing unresponsive subscribers, you optimize your campaigns for better engagement, higher click-through rates, and, ultimately, more successful cold email outreach.

2. Avoid Sending Emails That Look Like Spam

One of the primary causes of email bounces is hitting a spam trigger. Sending emails with content that comes across as spammy can lead to bounces, which isn't good news for your cold email campaigns.

Spam filters serve a vital role in shielding recipients from unwelcome or potentially harmful emails. Unfortunately, when your messages wind up in spam folders, they tend to get overlooked by the people you intended to reach.

To avoid this, it's essential to ensure your emails avoid common red flags for spam filters. These red flags can include overusing specific keywords, using deceptive subject lines, or including attachments that might raise suspicion. By avoiding these triggers, you increase the chances of your emails landing in your recipients' inboxes and getting the attention they deserve.

3. Verify Your Email Domain

To boost your email's credibility and ensure it doesn't get mistaken for spam, it's crucial to set up DomainKeys Identified Mail (DKIM) and Sender Policy Framework (SPF) authentication protocols for your domain. These protocols not only establish the legitimacy of your domain but also safeguard against unauthorized use of your custom domain.

Read more: Complete Guide to SPF/DKIM/DMARC Setup

By implementing these authentication measures, you not only enhance your email's credibility but also increase the chances of your emails landing in your recipients' inboxes instead of being rejected due to authentication issues. Email service providers and recipient mail servers rely on these domain-based authentication systems to verify the authenticity of emails, making it imperative to incorporate DKIM and SPF protocols.

In essence, verifying your email domain is a proactive step that builds trust with recipient mail servers, demonstrating that your emails originate from a legitimate source. This proactive approach significantly improves your email deliverability, ensuring that your messages reach your subscribers effectively without bouncing due to authentication problems.

5. Use Double Opt-in Forms

Another vital aspect of keeping a healthy email list is implementing a confirmed opt-in process, also known as double opt-in. This approach involves a two-step verification process:

First, when someone subscribes to your email list by providing their email address, you send them an initial email. This email contains a confirmation link that the user needs to click to validate their subscription.

This method ensures that only individuals genuinely interested in your content or services become part of your email list. It not only reduces bounce rates but also enhances your overall email deliverability.

Moreover, users who confirm their subscription are more likely to actively engage with your emails, which is beneficial for your cold email efforts. It also helps you maintain a list of engaged and active subscribers, a key factor for successful email campaigns.

7. Segment Your Mailing List and Personalize Your Email Campaigns

Segment your email list into smaller subgroups according to common traits, such as interests, geographical location, or online behavior. This strategy allows you to tailor your emails to the specific preferences of each group, making your messages more relevant and engaging. 

Another effective approach is to incorporate the recipient's name and address their individual needs. For instance, if you're aware of someone's interest in fitness, you can share relevant tips or exclusive offers related to their fitness journey.

Personalizing your emails not only captures the recipient's attention but also minimizes the likelihood of email bounces. Additionally, you can employ dynamic content, which enables you to display different information to different individuals within the same email. This way, you're delivering content that matters to each recipient, keeping them actively engaged and genuinely interested in your emails.

8. Never Use Purchased Lists

Avoid purchasing email lists, as they often contain outdated or irrelevant contacts. This can result in high bounce rates and low engagement levels. Instead, concentrate on growing your list naturally.

Engage with potential subscribers through various channels like your website and social media. This approach allows you to connect with individuals genuinely interested in your content. Buying lists can also have adverse effects on your sender's reputation and email deliverability.

Furthermore, consider implementing interactive signup forms on your website or landing pages. These forms can attract individuals who are genuinely interested in what you have to offer, ultimately enhancing the effectiveness of your email campaigns. In the end, it's preferable to maintain a smaller yet engaged list rather than a larger one that remains unresponsive.

9. Maintain Sender Reputation

Maintain a positive sender reputation by consistently delivering content that's relevant and captivating. Avoid overusing words that can trigger spam filters, such as "free," "urgent," or "guarantee," especially in your subject lines.

If you include interactive elements like buttons and links in your emails, make sure they lead to trustworthy sources. For instance, if you provide a link to your website, ensure that it directs recipients to a reliable and legitimate page.

Therefore, it's essential to keep a close eye on the performance of your email campaigns and closely analyze metrics like open rates and click-through rates. High engagement levels signal to email service providers that your content holds value, which in turn enhances your sender reputation.

Conversely, a low engagement rate may result in your emails being directed to recipients' spam folders. So, it's crucial to consistently deliver quality content and monitor your campaign metrics to maintain a positive email sender reputation.


Managing your email bounce rate is crucial for cold email success. Bounce rates offer insights into your campaign health and email list quality. Aim for a bounce rate of 2% or less.

To reduce bounces, regularly clean your list, avoid spam-like content, and verify your email domain. Use double opt-in forms, segment your list, and personalize emails. Never buy email lists.

Deliver relevant content to maintain a positive sender reputation. High engagement levels indicate value to email service providers, while low engagement can land your emails in spam folders. Follow these best practices to optimize your cold email marketing and achieve better results.

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Author’s Details

Sattwik Das

Sattwik is a Digital Marketing professional at Smartlead. He is a dedicated content writer who focuses on juggling words to bring out meaningful content. He is experienced in well-researched and SEO-optimized content creation, content editing, and copywriting for various businesses throughout the globe. His expertise in SEO, SMM, and SMO with a touch of creativity helps businesses grow and maximize their credibility and sales.


Edited by:

Sattwik Das


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Frequently asked questions

General Questions

What is Smartlead's cold email outreach software?

Email automation FAQs- Smartlead

Smartlead's cold email outreach tool helps businesses scale their outreach efforts seamlessly. With unlimited mailboxes, fully automated email warmup functionality, a multi-channel infrastructure, and a user-friendly unibox, it empowers users to manage their entire revenue cycle in one place. Whether you're looking to streamline cold email campaigns with automated email warmups, personalization fields, automated mailbox rotation, easy integrations, and spintax, improve productivity, or enhance scalability with subsequences based on lead’s intentions, automated replies, and full white-label experience, our cold email tool implifies it in a single solution.

What is Smartlead, and how can it enhance my cold email campaigns?

Email automation FAQs- Smartlead

Smartlead is a robust cold emailing software designed to transform cold emails into reliable revenue streams. Trusted by over 31,000 businesses, Smartlead excels in email deliverability, lead generation, cold email automation, and sales outreach. A unified master inbox streamlines communication management, while built-in email verification reduces bounce rates.
Additionally, Smartlead offers essential tools such as CNAME, SPF Checker, DMARC Checker, Email Verifier, Blacklist Check Tool, and Email Bounce Rate Calculator for optimizing email performance. 

How does the "unlimited mailboxes" feature benefit me?

Email automation FAQs- Smartlead

Our "unlimited mailboxes" feature allows you to expand your email communications without restrictions imposed by a mailbox limit. This means you won't be constrained by artificial caps on the number of mailboxes you can connect and use. This feature makes Smartlead the best cold email software and empowers you to reach a wider audience, engage with more potential customers, and manage diverse email campaigns effectively.

How does Smartlead as a cold emailing tool can automate the cold email process?

Email automation FAQs- Smartlead

Smartlead’s robust cold email API and automation infrastructure streamline outbound communication by transforming the campaign creation and management processes. It seamlessly integrates data across software systems using APIs and webhooks, adjusts settings, and leverages AI for personalised content.

The cold emailing tool categorises lead intent, offers comprehensive email management with automated notifications, and integrates smoothly with CRMs like Zapier, Make, N8N, HubSpot, Salesforce, and Pipedrive. Smartlead supports scalable outreach by rapidly adding mailboxes and drip-feeding leads into active campaigns Sign Up Now!

What do you mean by "unibox to handle your entire revenue cycle"?

Email automation FAQs- Smartlead

The "unibox" is one of the unique features of Smartlead cold email outreach tool, and it's a game-changer when it comes to managing your revenue cycle. The master inbox or the unibox consolidates all your outreach channels, responses, sales follow-ups, and conversions into one centralized, user-friendly mailbox.

With the "unibox," you gain the ability to:
1. Focus on closing deals: You can now say goodbye to the hassle of logging into multiple mailboxes to search for replies. The "unibox" streamlines your sales communication, allowing you to focus on what matters most—closing deals.

2. Centralized lead management: All your leads are managed from one central location, simplifying lead tracking and response management. This ensures you take advantage of every opportunity and efficiently engage with your prospects.

3. Maintain context: The "unibox" provides a 360-degree view of all your customer messages, allowing you to maintain context and deliver more personalized and effective responses.

How does Smartlead ensure my emails don't land in the spam folder?

Email automation FAQs- Smartlead

Smartlead, the best cold email marketing tool, ensures your emails reach the intended recipients' primary inbox rather than the spam folder. 

Here's how it works:
1. Our "unlimited warmups" feature is designed to build and maintain a healthy sending reputation for your cold email outreach. Instead of sending a large volume of emails all at once, which can trigger spam filters, we gradually ramp up your sending volume. This gradual approach, combined with positive email interactions, helps boost your email deliverability rates.

2. We deploy high-deliverability IP servers specific to each campaign. 

3. The ‘Warmup’ feature replicates humanized email sending patterns, spintax, and smart replies.
4. By establishing a positive sender reputation and gradually increasing the number of sent emails, Smartlead minimizes the risk of your emails being flagged as spam. This way, you can be confident that your messages will consistently land in the primary inbox, increasing the likelihood of engagement and successful communication with your recipients.

Can Smartlead help improve my email deliverability rates?

Email automation FAQs- Smartlead

Yes, our cold emailing software is designed to significantly improve your email deliverability rates. It enhances email deliverability through AI-powered email warmups across providers, unique IP rotating for each campaign, and dynamic ESP matching.
Real-time AI learning refines strategies based on performance, optimizing deliverability without manual adjustments. Smartlead's advanced features and strategies are designed to improve email deliverability rates, making it a robust choice for enhancing cold email campaign success.

What features does Smartlead offer for cold email personalisation?

Email automation FAQs- Smartlead

Smartlead enhances cold email personalisation through advanced AI-driven capabilities and strategic integrations. Partnered with Clay, The cold remaining software facilitates efficient lead list building, enrichment from over 50 data providers, and real-time scraping for precise targeting. Hyper-personalised cold emails crafted in Clay seamlessly integrate with Smartlead campaigns.

Moreover, Smartlead employs humanised, natural email interactions and smart replies to boost engagement and response rates. Additionally, the SmartAI Bot creates persona-specific, high-converting sales copy. Also you can create persona-specific, high-converting sales copy using SmartAI Bot. You can train the AI bot to achieve 100% categorisation accuracy, optimising engagement and conversion rates.

Can I integrate Smartlead with other tools I'm using?

Email automation FAQs- Smartlead

Certainly, Smartlead cold email tool is designed for seamless integration with a wide range of tools and platforms. Smartlead offers integration with HubSpot, Salesforce, Pipedrive, Clay, Listkit, and more. You can leverage webhooks and APIs to integrate the tools you use. Try Now!

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Is Smartlead suitable for both small businesses and large enterprises?

Smartlead accommodates both small businesses and large enterprises with flexible pricing and comprehensive features. The Basic Plan at $39/month suits small businesses and solopreneurs, offering 2000 active leads and 6000 monthly emails, alongside essential tools like unlimited email warm-up and detailed analytics.

Marketers and growing businesses benefit from the Pro Plan ($94/month), with 30000 active leads and 150000 monthly emails, plus a custom CRM and active support. Lead generation agencies and large enterprises can opt for the Custom Plan ($174/month), providing up to 12 million active lead credits and 60 million emails, with advanced CRM integration and customisation options.

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What type of businesses sees the most success with Smartlead?

No, there are no limitations on the number of channels you can utilize with Smartlead. Our cold email tool offers a multi-channel infrastructure designed to be limitless, allowing you to reach potential customers through multiple avenues without constraints.

This flexibility empowers you to diversify your cold email outreach efforts, connect with your audience through various communication channels, and increase your chances of conversion. Whether email, social media, SMS, or other communication methods, Smartlead's multi-channel capabilities ensure you can choose the channels that best align with your outreach strategy and business goals. This way, you can engage with your prospects effectively and maximize the impact of your email outreach.

Email automation FAQs- Smartlead

How can Smartlead integrate with my existing CRM and other tools?

Smartlead is the cold emailing tool that facilitates seamless integration with existing CRM systems and other tools through robust webhook and API infrastructure. This setup ensures real-time data synchronisation and automated processes without manual intervention. Integration platforms like Zapier, Make, and N8N enable effortless data exchange between Smartlead and various applications, supporting tasks such as lead information syncing and campaign status updates. Additionally, it offers native integrations with major CRM platforms like HubSpot, Salesforce, and Pipedrive, enhancing overall lead management capabilities and workflow efficiency. Try Now!

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Do you provide me with lead sources?

No. Smartlead distinguishes itself from other cold email outreach software by focusing on limitless scalability and seamless integration. While many similar tools restrict your outreach capabilities, Smartlead offers a different approach.

Here's what makes us uniquely the best cold email software:

1. Unlimited Mailboxes: In contrast to platforms that limit mailbox usage, Smartlead provides unlimited mailboxes. This means you can expand your outreach without any arbitrary constraints.

2. Unique IP Servers: Smartlead offers unique IP servers for every campaign it sends out. 

3. Sender Reputation Protection: Smartlead protects your sender reputation by auto-moving emails from spam folders to the primary inbox. This tool uses unique identifiers to cloak all warmup emails from being recognized by automation parsers. 

4. Automated Warmup: Smartlead’s warmup functionality enhances your sender reputation and improves email deliverability by maintaining humanised email sending patterns and ramping up the sending volume. 

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How secure is my data with Smartlead?

Ensuring the security of your data is Smartlead's utmost priority. We implement robust encryption methods and stringent security measures to guarantee the continuous protection of your information. Your data's safety is paramount to us, and we are always dedicated to upholding the highest standards of security.

How can I get started with Smartlead?

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Getting started with Smartlead is straightforward! Just head over to our sign-up page and follow our easy step-by-step guide. If you ever have any questions or need assistance, our round-the-clock support team is ready to help, standing by to provide you with any assistance you may require. Sign Up Now!

How can I reach the Smartlead team?

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We're here to assist you! You can easily get in touch with our dedicated support team on chat. We strive to provide a response within 24 hours to address any inquiries or concerns you may have. You can also reach out to us at support@smartlead.ai

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