What are Hard- and Soft Bounces and How Can I Tell the Difference?

A bounce occurs when an email can’t be delivered to your recipient’s inbox and bounces at the receiving server. There are two types of bounces – hard and soft bounces:

  • A hard bounce occurs when your email can’t be delivered because the email address no longer exists, or the receiving server blocks your email.
  • A soft bounce occurs when your email can temporarily not be delivered. This may happen when the contacted inbox is already full or the inbox gets flooded, or is offline.

Hard and soft bounces are automatically managed by CleverReach and can be determined by means of the profile data, the causes for bounce notifications and the duration of the bounce period.

Profile Data

When navigating to a bounced recipient in CleverReach, you can see the bounce type in the top right corner.  

To open a recipient’s profile, click on [Recipients] in your account, navigate to the right recipient list and search for the email address of your recipient. When selecting the recipient, the bounce type is displayed in the top right corner.

Causes for Bounce Notifications

Download the causes for bounce notifications in your newsletter report. Go to the [Reports] and select the report of your email that has caused the bounces.  

Click on [Activities] - [Bounces] - [Action] - [Export Bounce Notifications]. 


You now get a .csv file to open in your spreadsheet program. The cause for the bounce notification is right next to the email address. You can find a list of the most common bounce notifications in this helpcenter post.

On top of that you can also viewthe cause for the bounce notification in the recipient’s profile, if the recipient has ended up on the bounce index due to one of your emails. Navigate to [Recipients], open the recipient list and select the respective newsletter recipient. Click on [Activities] to view the bounce note:


If the bounce note is not listed, your newsletter recipient has ended up on the bounce index through another email. That can happen, our cross-customer bounce index is global.

Blocking Duration

If an email address is contacted and then bounced, our system automatically blocks this email address for a certain amount of time. The blocking duration depends on the bounce type:

Bounce Type    Blocking Duration

Soft bounce      1 month

Hard bounce    1 year

The email address is reactivated automatically after the blocking period has expired.

Help & Support

If you have any questions or need further assistance, please contact our service team at any time.