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This 1 email metric is more damaging than the dreaded unsubscribe

I used to get a small pain in my heart/soul/ego every time someone would unsubscribe from my email list.

It hurt because I spent money on acquiring and qualifying the lead, offered them some of my best and most practical email content (which took some serious work conceptualising and writing), and I knew it was quality content.





XYZ has unsubscribed from your email list for the following reason: “I’m no longer interested”

It’s a sucker punch to the gut of an email marketer.

I used to believe that the dreaded unsubscribe was the worst metric on my email report. It stuck out like a yellow pimple on an otherwise pristine email report (high open rate…high click through rate…)…I tried to avoid it at all costs.

One way I tried to avoid it was straying from my daily email writing regime to writing one a week…

But this didn’t help. Subscribers would still unsubscribe…

I worked even harder on my email content and then sent one every three weeks.

Nope…people would still unsubscribe.

The honest truth is this: people have free will to choose whether or not they want to remain on your list. Their decisions to unsubscribe are influenced by their mood when reading your email…their changing interests…their memory of ever subscribing to your list…

But there is one metric that is far more damaging.

Not only to your aspirations of selling to your email list, nor to your ego…but to your very ability to even continue emailing to your list.

This metric should worry you more than a few unsubscribes…and you should take every precaution you can to avoid this metric from appearing on your send reports.

Have I teased you long enough?

Bounces. And more specifically…hard bounces.

A hard bounce is like a Bat Signal to your bulk email sending service that your email list is sick.

A 1% hard bounce is a small cough. 10% is a cold. 20% is the flu. 25% is pneumonia. And anything over 25% is a deadly virus.

When it reaches pneumonia and virus levels, you alert the email service’s quality scoring software (the software that ensures everyone on that email sending service can even send their emails) that you are more than likely sending cold emails to a purchased list that never opted into your list in the first place.

You may get away with one send with a hard bounce rate of 25% and more…but not after two or three consecutive sends.

You will either be issued with a warning to urgently rectify, or have your account suspended and shut down. No questions asked and no explanations accepted.

In the age of data security and consent marketing, bulk email senders have a zero tolerance policy as one bad apple negatively affects their entire client base.

I have even seen one of the big bulk email providers (starts with an “A” and ends with a braai brand) close the account of a client who was paying a subscription fee of more than R10,000 per month.

Email journeys and automations gone in an instant.


Before you even send a marketing email to a list you bought, compiled or are trying to revive, take every precaution necessary to ensure the emails are still active and weed out the ones that go to an unattended email box (like sales@ and admin@…).

Make sure email addresses are spelled correctly, free of special characters like “/” and “%”…and replace email addresses and name fields that are entered in ALL CAPS back to lower case and sentence case.

Just doing these small fixes will go a long way to avoiding the dreaded hard bounce in your send report and keep your account healthy and active.

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