Bounce Limits

For advice on reducing bounce rates see Reducing Bounces

SmartSurvey tracks the number of emails that get successfully sent and which bounce, either a "soft bounce", which means there is a temporary problem (perhaps a mail server says it cannot currently receive mail) or a "hard bounce", which is a permanent error such as "mailbox doesn't exist". We also track any "abuse reports" which usually occur when somebody marks a message as SPAM or if they contact us directly to complain about an unsolicited email.

Although hard bounces will automatically prevent reminders being sent to those addresses within the same Contact List, SmartSurvey takes our sending reputation seriously and will take action against Customers who regularly get high bounce rates including disabling the email tool for the account in question. The current limit for hard bounces is 7% of the list size but this might be reduced in the future.

Abuse reports are taken much more seriously and will almost always involve direct contact from the SmartSurvey Support Team.

Currently, the system will not take any automatic actions against customers exceeding the bounce limit but some customers will be contacted directly via Support Ticket to give them a chance to avoid problems in the future. Eventually, the system will start automatically blocking various email sends as these limits are exceeded.

Why are bounces a problem?

Email bounces are a sign of poor-quality email lists. Obviously, as time goes on, email accounts become dormant or get deleted and some invites will bounce, however if the addresses are obtained with clear consent or with a soft opt-in that allows people to easily unsubscribe and if you are proactively keeping your lists clean, then the overall percentage should remain below the limit.

The problem for SmartSurvey is that if we send emails to non-existent mailboxes at existing providers, then we are likely to be downgraded by those providers which can lead to poor deliverability for all SmartSurvey customers. We are also at risk if email lists are obtained illegally that "honey trap" email addresses will be targetted that will signal that the list is not legitimate and, again, leads to us being downgraded. Email providers require us to treat informatoin about email abuses very strictly and efficiently to avoid this.

Likewise, if people are reporting email as SPAM, the provider might start pre-emptively bouncing future emails to that provider.

Ultimately, you have a legal obligation if targetting any member of the EU or UK to:

  • Have a lawful basis for having the email address
  • Provide a means to opt-out where required depending on the lawful basis
  • Take steps to ensure the information you have is up-to-date including re-opt-in where this makes sense
  • Process requests to opt-out or remove personal data (including an email address) efficiently
  • Are not using the data for a purpose it was not obtained for
  • Delete data that is considered stale where you don't have evidence that the data is still fairly held (for example, not using email addresses you have had for 10 years without having further contact from the Subject)

Why are abuses a problem?

An abuse report does not definitively mean that you are acting unlawfully but it will not look good if we receive multiple reports of abuse against a Customer unless we have clear communication from you about why these reports are being received.

Abuses can affect our ability to deliver like repeated bounces. Receiving email providers use all kinds of heuristics to decide whether we are a responsible email sender and high numbers of SPAM reports makes it look like SmartSurvey is sending SPAM and any reduction in ability to deliver will affect all of our customers.

If your legal basis is Consent or a Contractual agreement, then if you are not making it clear to the recipient why you are contacting them, it is more likely to marked as SPAM.

If you are using a less reliable basis like Legitimate Interests, then it is in your interest to be completely transparent about why you might be contacting somebody. They might not like it and they might still mark an email as SPAM but you reduce the chance of that happening.


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