Hard vs soft bounces

When a sent email cannot be delivered to an email server, it’s called a bounce. The email server will generally provide a reason for the incident, and Ocumail’s transactional email service provider, Mandrill, uses those reasons to determine how to treat that email address. Bounces can be categorized into two types: hard bounces and soft bounces.

In this article, you’ll learn about hard and soft bounces within Ocumail and what can be done to improve patient communication.

Helpful info

  • Ocumail cannot predict whether a sent email will bounce or not.
  • You will be notified within 24 hours of all hard bounces.
  • Notifications of hard bounces include the following types; consult reports, patient recalls, practice reviews, birthday messages.
  • Different internet service providers (ISPs) bounce email messages based on their own rating systems and definitions.

Hard bounces

    • Recipient email address doesn’t exist.
    • Recipient email server has completely blocked delivery

      A hard bounce indicates a permanent reason an email cannot be delivered. In most cases, bounced email addresses are marked by Mandrill as undeliverable and excluded from all future email communication. Here are some common reasons an email may hard bounce.

      On the rare occasion, a valid email address will hard bounce. Read more on MailChimp

Soft bounces

Soft bounces typically indicate a temporary delivery issue and are not reported on by Ocumail. When an email address soft bounces, our email partner, Mandrill, tracks this event for future reference.

If an patient’s email address continues to soft bounce in additional communication, the address will eventually be considered a hard bounce. While there are many reasons an email address may soft bounce, these are some common reasons this could happen.

  • Mailbox is full (over quota).
  • Mailbox is not configured correctly.
  • Mailbox is inactive.
  • Patient’s email server is down or offline.
  • Patient’s email server has been sent too many emails during a period of time.
  • Email message is too large.
  • Domain name does not exist.
  • Email message blocked due to content.
  • Email message does not meet the recipient server’s policies.
  • Email message does not meet the recipient server’s DMARC requirements for authentication.
  • Email message does not meet the recipient server’s anti-spam requirements.
  • Email message does not meet the recipient server’s anti-virus requirements.
  • Email message does not meet the recipient server’s sender requirements.
  • Email cannot be relayed between email servers.
  • Email cannot be relayed for unknown reasons.

What to do with bounces

Now that you know what hard and soft bounces are, it is a good idea to keep an eye on the status of all your outbound patient communication. The Ocumail dashboard includes the overall delivery rate for the current month and updates the sent email status hourly to either Delivered, Opened or Bounced, where applicable. Reaching out to patients with bounced emails and amending the incorrect email address under the Patient TAB within Ocumail will improve future interaction and data health. This will also assist that you abide by spam laws and avoid bounce suspensions.

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