Automating Mail Bounce Removals in Mautic
For a marketer sending regular bulk emails, bounced emails are a pain.
At best, mail bounces clog up bulk mailing systems, like the Mautic the Open Source marketing automation system we use. Each mail bounce represents a failure and a waste of effort sending the mail.
At worst, too many bounces raise the bounce rate of your mailing list, which leads to a poor sending reputation for your mail server's IP address and leads to delivery difficulties for all your emails.
Email marketers need to have a bounced email strategy.
Each bounced email results in substantial work on the receiving end, as the mail server has to work out that an email is undeliverable, after which it has to reply to your sending server with a bounced mail response. These responses are delivered as mail messages and look similar to:
- Mail delivery failed: returning message to sender
- DELIVERY FAILURE
- WARNING: Message delivery failed
- MAILER-DAEMON: failure notice
Why Send eMails That Bounce in the First Place?
Besides the initial cost and effort of sending a wasted email, your bulk email system has to receive the boomeranged response that comes back from each bounced email it sends.
Since mail bounce messages are a pain, some marketers choose to ignore them by routing them to an unattended mailbox. This is a bad idea.
A better strategy is to manually review and curate bounced emails, which costs time and effort. If you are keen to automate this process, there are a few bounce handler services that provide tools to speed up bounce handling where possible.
As an aside, bounces can also be reduced in the first instance by having your mailing list checked using an email validation service like zerobounce (https://www.zerobounce.net/) . Charges are normally based on each email address checked but it is worth the price for older or messy lists.
Auto-Removing Bounced Mails from your Mailing List
First, you need to have a list of bounced emails to work with.
This can be tricky if your bounces land in a mail client. In this case, you need to be able to filter out bounces and then extract them into a list of email addresses.
Once you have a bounced email list, the next step is to remove them from your mailing list. Obviously, this process can be done manually. However, when anytime you have more than a handful of addresses you will need an automated the process to save your sanity.
For the rest of this article, I will focus on the Mautic Marketing Automation System (https://www.mautic.org/) and will outline a simple automated system to bulk remove
With your bounces in hand, you are ready to start the Mautic work.
The process is straightforward; we are going to merge an abbreviated contact list into your Mautic contacts and mark the contacts as Do Not Contact. [This a Mautic state that ensures a contact will not be contacted, however I am unsure whether this state is the same a bounced state in Mautic terms.]
The Mautic Bulk Bounce Removal Process:
Step 1: Adjust the list into a Mautic import format
Load your list into a text file editor like notepad or EXCEL/Google Sheets. Then remove all columns other than the one containing email addresses. At this stage, your list should be a single column of email addresses, with no other columns or data.
Next, you need to add another column, called ‘do not contact’. Add to the column name exactly as I have typed, without the single quotation marks. Save your file in CSV with UTF-8 format. It should look similar to my sample list below (Added as an attachment below, you are welcome to use it as a sample)
Step 2: Import Mautic Contact List
In theory, you can now go ahead and import your abbreviated bounce list, so go ahead and login to Mautic.
As an added step, I like to push these contacts into a segment, so that you have a handy exclusion filter list or in case you need it (LOL). So, click on over to Segments and create a new, call it something like Bounces.
Now go Mautic Contacts Tab
Right-click on the little drop arrow next to New, near the top left. Drop the sub-menu down and click on the Import option. You should be presented with an Import Contacts screen. Go ahead and load your CSV file, you created in step 1 above. The standard import options should apply.
You should land on a screen similar to the one below:
Set the List Owner if you need to, then select your Bounced segment if you are using one.
There should be only two import fields (highlighted in yellow squiggle above), called: Do Not Contact and Email. (The capitalization of letters in these two field names does not seem to matter).
Go ahead and do the import.
Mautic will report on how many contacts were imported. Your imported contacts should be reported under the Merged Contacts and the total should match the total number of lines in your import CSV , minus one for the header row.
Step 3: Check Your Work
Go to Contacts. Enter any of the bounced email addresses into the Contact search box. If your import worked, your screen should show the contact at the mail address you searched for. The contact should be marked as Do Not Contact, which shows as a red crossed circle after the contact’s name.
You are welcome to contact me if you have any questions, suggestion or corrections.
A note about hard and soft bounces. Soft bounces are caused by issues that can be transient like a full mailbox. Hard bounces happen with permanent errors like sending to a mail address that does not exist on the receiving server or when the receiving server is down.