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Act-On Software

Different Ways an Email Can Bounce


When an Act-On email message is sent, there will be one of three outcomes. The first is a successful delivery to the end recipient. This is the best outcome and will be visible (at a minimum) as someone who opened or did not open your message. The other two scenarios include soft or hard bounced messages, described below.

Bounce Summary

When Act-On delivers an email message to one of your intended recipients, the Act-On email server talks to the recipient's email server prior to delivering the message. During this initial discussion, the recipient's email server may notify Act-On that it cannot accept the message for one of several reasons. This information is provided to Act-On as a code called a bounce code. The bounce code displays whether it is a soft or hard bounced email. The hard and soft bounce designations are not made arbitrarily, but by the information returned to Act-On by the recipient's server.

Soft Bounces

A soft bounce means the recipient's mail server did not take delivery of the sent message. For example, the recipient server may tell Act-On that the inbox of the recipient is full and the message cannot be delivered or that there is a power outage and it cannot accept mail at this time. These email addresses will appear on your Soft Bounce list and also in the email message report under Bounced.

Hard Bounces

A hard bounce generally means a terminal failure. The recipient's server may notify Act-On that the employee no longer works at the company and therefore the message cannot be delivered or that the domain no longer exists. These individuals can be found in your Hard Bounce list and will also be noted as hard bounces in the email message report under Bounced.


In both of these scenarios, Act-On will record these automatically for you and no messages will be returned to the sender.

You may, however, notice that a number of emails are being returned to the sender. These may be bounces or out-of-office notifications. In these cases, the recipient's email server has accepted the message and therefore taken Act-On out of the loop. If you received a bounce notification, it means that the recipient's server accepted the message and only then realized it could not deliver the message, and at that point, the bounce notification is sent to the 'From' address you chose. In these scenarios, Act-On is unable to automatically record the bounce in our system. If you are receiving out-of-office notifications, this is due to a similar scenario where the message was delivered to the recipient, but their email client sends a notification to the sender.

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