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Complaints, bounces and unsubscribes: what you should expect

Complaints, bounces, and unsubscribes all indicate the health and overall quality of your list. They are a direct representation of how happy your recipients are in receiving your emails and affect your Sender’s Reputation.

If you regularly send engaging content to a list of people who are waiting to open your email, these numbers should be 0 (or very close to it). Each complaint or hard bounce you generate is a mark against you.


A “hard” bounce: the address no longer exists (worse, maybe it never existed… Did you send a confirmation email?) . If not addressed, these can have dramatic consequences to your account, sometimes going as far as getting it suspended. As a result, all hard bounces will be removed from the list.

A “soft” bounce: the email is currently not available for a “temporary” reason. If there are 4 soft bounces on a single email address, the email address will be automatically removed from the list. Note: Your reports will provide you with very detailed information about the bounces on your emails, including several different types of bounces not listed above.

Why are emails removed from the list?

To avoid potential SPAM complaints. It will also help in regards to future email statistics.

Bounce Rate:

    Total bounces / Total number of people you sent your email to

Expected Results:

0% – 1%

Hard bounces should never exceed 1%


  • Type of industry
  • How current is your list?
  • How frequently do you send to your list? The more often you send, the lower the rate for each campaign.


Total number of unsubscribes / Total number of people email was sent to

Understand that is much better for someone to unsubscribe than to flag you as spam.

Spam complaints

Total number of complaints / Total number of emails sent to specific internet service providers

As soon as someone marks you as spam, they are definitively removed from the list.

Expected Results:

0% – 0.1 %

  • Use best practices to avoid complaints and send a test to yourself (see where it lands) before sending out your campaign. Should never exceed 0.25% (1 out of 400 emails sent)

Keep in mind that ISPs look at these numbers too. If you have consistently mid to critical bounce/spam levels it is only a matter of time before your emails get sent to a recipient’s junk folder and/or get blocked permanently.

If you build a clean list and learn to avoid complaints you should be just fine.

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