Soft Bounce vs Hard Bounce

By Kelly Gerrish

Hard and soft bounce rates are two of the most crucial email marketing metrics you should be tracking. But many marketers neglect them because they don’t understand the difference.

A ‘bounce’ means that your email was returned by the recipient’s mail server as undeliverable. Essentially it bounced back. But why does this happen? There are a few different reasons which can be split into two main categories.

soft_bounceA soft bounce gets as far as the recipient’s mail server but is rejected before they receive it. Maybe their mailbox is full, the message is too big or their server is down. Soft bounces normally resolve themselves as most mailing engines will resend the same email three times. If all attempts fail, the email address is automatically converted to a hard bounce and removed for future. Similarly, if your last five emails to a recipient have soft bounced without any trackable activity, it will automatically be converted to a hard bounce and be removed.

hard_bounceA hard bounce is an email which is returned to the sender as permanently undeliverable. This could be due to an invalid email address, recipients no longer working for a company, or their mail server blocking you emails. It’s important to keep an eye on your hard bounces as not all mailing engines will automatically remove them from future datalists. They don’t exist so they’re never going to open your email. Leaving them on your database will only distort your metrics.

Some servers interpret bounces differently, meaning a hard bounce on one server may only be a soft bounce on another. Whatever way you look at it, if your emails are bouncing then your message isn’t being heard. These quick tips will help you ensure that your message gets through.

Keep databases clean
Some mailing engines will automatically remove invalid email addresses but not all. When people subscribe via an online form, check for typos, incorrectly formatted addresses and invalid domains. You’d be amazed how many people fail to enter their own email address correctly. You could also use double opt in to allow recipients to validate their email before adding to your list.

Monitor delivery rates by domain
Track your open and bounce rates by major domain or company. If one is significantly different to the others or you see a sudden spike, your campaign could be getting stuck in the spam filters.

Waking Up to Technology

By Kelly Gerrish

Over 50% of the average waking day is now spent using media devices – more than the average adult spends asleep.

A recent survey by communications regulator Ofcom has found that UK adults spend an average of eight hours and 41 minutes a day consuming media, compared with the average night’s sleep of eight hours and 21 minutes.

But it’s the younger generation who are leading the way with digital technology. Younger people were found to have an advanced understanding of technology devices, with six year olds having the same level of knowledge as the average 45-year-old.

As a result of growing up in the digital age, 12-15 year olds are developing fundamentally different communication habits than older generations.

Teens born at the turn of the millennium are unlikely to have known ‘dial-up’ internet and are the first generation to benefit from broadband and digital communications while growing up. Only 8% of 12 to 15 year olds said they used email, while just 3% said they used a landline phone. 67% of this age group own a smartphone and a massive 94% of their communication is text based – such as instant messaging and social networking. These techie teens are shaping how we communicate; future marketers will need to think outside of the box when targeting this Facebook generation.

It’s not only younger teens that are making the most of the digital age. The communications habits of adults of all ages are shifting as we embrace newer services and take advantage of portable connected devices. We’re now even better connected through superfast broadband and 4G mobile, and communicating on the move.

Tablet and smartphones are starting to dominate how we work and play. Four in 10 households now have a tablet – up from a quarter (24%) a year ago. Their ease of use and portability have a mass generational appeal. More than a quarter (28%) of those over 55 now own a tablet and many use it as their main computing device. It seems all ages are being influenced by the Facebook generation.

How tech savvy are you? Find out by taking Ofcom’s online quiz.

Free Fonts

By Richard Ellis

If you looked for a free font ten years ago, all you could find were novelty sci-fi letterforms, Halloween ghosts in the shape of the alphabet and flaming comic book lettering that would be more likely to burn your retina than win a pitch.

When you were lucky enough to find a more practical typeface, characters would be missing, the kerning would be so bad you could park a bus between the letters and standard font weights such as bold and italic would be non-existent or only available for a fee.

That’s all changed over the last few years with the arrival of open sourced web font projects sponsored by companies such as Adobe and Google. These are largely of a good quality, with many fonts designed by prestigious designers. The sheer number of Google fonts can make it a real task to shift through them all, so here’s a handy list of some of the best.

There’s also a vibrant community of typography designers who submit their work to online directories for free commercial use.

Abduzeedo publishes free fonts every Friday. Many of them would look great on posters, displays or t-shirts.

losttype.com is a great place to find fonts. They can be downloaded for free, or you can support the design community by making a donation for each one that you use.

exljbris.com hosts a small collection of well crafted free fonts by Jos Buivenga. Popular fonts include Anivers, Museo Sans and Diavlo.

fontsquirrel.com have an easy to use directory of decent quality hand-picked open source fonts.

But of course if you have your heart set on dancing robots, then you’ll be sure to find it on dafont.com.

Do you have any free resources you use? Let us know by commenting below.