Low bounce rates don’t mean a list is good

Source: https://wordtothewise.com/2019/04/low-bounce-rates-dont-mean-a-list-is-good/

Lots of folks believe that should they remove non-existent addresses from their mailing lists that their lists will make it without a problem to the inbox. An entire industry has grown up around the notion that sending mail to addresses that were valid can never be spam. This isn of course, spammers use lots.

Thermometer with the words "bounce rate" with red liquid exploding out of the top.

I don’t think it’s much of a secret that I don’t have time for hygiene businesses. I think they’re selling something that the majority of organizations don’t want. Moreover, at least many actively abused mailbox providers to collect the data they were selling.

Why did data hygiene become this kind of thing? Because one way that spam could be identified by mailbox providers would be to look at the amount of email addresses that a particular IP was attempting to send to. Too many email addresses from an IP, and the IP was blocked and email from that IP went into the folder or was lost.

Once it was clear that non-existent addresses were a metric used by mailbox providers, it became a goal for senders to hit. This resulted in an industry designed to help senders reach this target of bounces.

There are multiple fallacies all wrapped up in the data hygiene industry model.

Fallacy 1: Spam never has a bounce rate. This is untrue. Spammers were some of the first groups. Some of the early data hygiene companies even grew to spammers.

Fallacy 2: Spam always has a high bounce rate. See above.

Fallacy 3: Filters act with high bounce rates on mail, so my mail will get into the inbox if I take off addresses. Attempting to send email to addresses that are non-existent isn’t, inherently, a thing that is terrible. It occurs, in the days before address books it was pretty common. The matter is that a list with a great deal of non addresses on it lacks permission.

The bounces are not the problem. The problem is of the other addresses on the list that never asked for the mail. And this is the reason I have a problem. Their business model is to eliminate all signs that a list might be bad, without doing anything to make the list great.

Data hygiene is a waste of money. There are ways to ensure a good quality list that t involve handing over address list to third parties.