bounces and 'out of office' replies


CM report overview shows bounces which are classified as the total of all 'soft' and 'hard' bounces and from this (and the total emails sent) it provides a delivered figure and rate. CM defines 'soft' and 'hard' bounces as emails that are not delivered to the recipient.

Can anyone confirm then that 'soft' and 'hard' bounces DO NOT include out of office replies?

I would assume not as they clearly have been delivered to a recipient.  However, I can't find anything that explicity states they aren't. If they are included my concern is that they will skew the other stats.



Dave Dave, 9 years ago

Hi Andy,

Unfortunately, not all mail servers handle out of office replies the same. Same send it back as a bounce to the return-path address (which points back to our servers), while others send it to the from or reply-to address, which you specify when sending the campaign. You've probably noticed a few roll into your inbox when sending a larger campaign.

When an out of office reply is sent to the return-path address, we capture it and process it along with your other types of bounces. In the end, this is a server by server setting, and not one we have complete control over.

Stormy Stormy, 9 years ago

I'd always considered soft bounces to be more of a 'This person can't access your email currently' rather than a flat 'they did not receive it'. It's not just out-of-office replys that are soft bounces which potentially do get received eventually - mail gets delayed and resent by servers, etc...

Calculating rates is not just a case of "total emails - bounces = delivered"; tracking emails is an inprecise science at the best of times. You may find that there are a few cases where someone will register as a soft bounce AND then an open. As Dave states, unfortunately there are plenty of servers out there which don't follow RFC standards and make this kind of tracking a PITA, and it's indicative of the amount of work gone into CM that they present such good statistics as they do!

Personally, I'd recommend taking soft bounce figures with a pinch of salt, and mentally class them as 'not guaranteed to have received it'.

No-one expects the Spanish Inquisition!
bluesnapper bluesnapper, 9 years ago

Understood that there are no standards and that it's not very scientific but I would have thought though that scanning for 'out of office' in the subject (which the majority of OOF replies use) and classifying as such would help improve understanding of what's been delivered 'pending' action ie address is valid, as opposed to truly undeliverable

However that (probably lengthy discusion) aside I would like to extract the bounce list from CM complete with the data shown in the CM reports of 'bounce type and 'additional info' but I can't see if this is possible (I can export bounced contacts but not with the reason for the bounce in the CSV file).

My clients want to update 'real' undeliverables (what I've always called hard bounces) so they can clean up their in-house content database of potential goneaways.

Is there a way of doing this?



A UK-based internet marketing consultant specialising in paid search, SEO, conversion optimisation and Google Analytics. Some of my clients have been with me for over 5 years. I must be doing something right...
Dave Dave, 9 years ago

Sure Andy, if you head into your subscriber list under Manage Subscribers, and then click on "Export Subscribers", you can choose to only export those subscribers that have bounced out of your list. Most often this is due to a hard bounce, but can also include 3 soft bounces in a row (in which case we'd consider the address undeliverable, as would many ISP's).

Also, you can tweak exactly how soft bounces are handled on a per-list basis by heading into "Bounce Handling" for that list.

bluesnapper bluesnapper, 9 years ago

Hi Dave

Thanks for your reponse.  I have already tried your suggestion prior to posting (I think) but it didn't give me what I wanted. 

If I export subscribers with "bounced subscribers" selected I get the bounced list OK but it doesn't provide me with the 'bounce type' and 'additional info' data for those contacts. This extra info I can see in the Reports section under 'recipient bounce activity' but with no option that I can see to export it.

Without the additional info, I can't identify/extract the 'hard bounces' and provide to my client. The way you describe will provide a mix of soft and hard bounced contacts so my client cannot mark up goneaways.



A UK-based internet marketing consultant specialising in paid search, SEO, conversion optimisation and Google Analytics. Some of my clients have been with me for over 5 years. I must be doing something right...

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