Many individuals make the mistake of lumping together the definitions of junk email and bounces. Knowing the difference is an important part of understanding email campaigns and statistics. It will also allow you to understand what you may need to change to improve the visibility of your email.
As we've mentioned in many of our previous posts, email marketing can be a difficult and unfamiliar venue. There are many nuances that need to be understood and several complex technological issues that play into the results. We do our best to simplify these issues for our customers and largely we have success. One of the things however, that many Admail.net users don't quite understand, is the difference between bounces and junk mail.
Junk mail is a filter that is set up within a recipient's email client. Anything that reaches the junk mail folder has been delivered, but has been filtered into a folder because it appears to be "junk." This can happen for many reasons. The tricky thing about junk mail is that it is largely defined by the user themselves. In many email clients, junk folders are setup by the user to filter based on their own qualifications. Some custom filters learn by watching what the user's actions and others have a default setting as to what they block but can be modified. In either case, junk is largely filtered due to email content. The best way to attempt to avoid the filter is to adopt common sense best practices such as avoiding common spam language. Unfortunately, there is no 100% sure way to stay out of everyone's junk mail folder.
Bounces, on the other hand, are the result of an email server rejecting a message and sending an error code back to us. Depending on the specific error code that we receive, a bounce is either marked as a hard or a soft bounce. Bounces can result from a variety of things ranging from content to ip reputation and many other things in between. You will likely see many bounces on a bad/old list. Email addresses that are no longer active will return a hard bounce and come back as non-deliverables. Soft bounces are recorded and after several are made inactive.
Hopefully this clears up some common misconceptions. If you have any additional questions, please contact us!