How We Solved our Email Bounce Back Problem with Siftrock

May 31, 2018 | David Cunningham

The bounce back: the bane of the demand gen. marketer’s existence.

We put tons of care into compiling the perfect email to deliver to a handpicked list for our campaigns. We agonize over the subject line that is going to get our audience to open our email. We debate if we should go plain text, or if we should dress up our message with some images or animated GIFs. We read all of the articles and pour over our marketing automation data to understand the perfect moment to send an email. We pick an aspect to A/B test for continuous improvement. We dot our digital i’s and cross our t’s and we are finally ready.

We hit send.

And amongst the open rates and click-through successes, we inevitably see that some portion of our list bounced back.

What a waste of all of that effort.

Even with the very cleanest database, bounce backs and replies are inevitable. No matter the day you send, someone will be on vacation, someone will have just left their position and turned on a new out of office message, and some of your data will just be bad.

These emails that didn’t reach their intended target — at the hands of vacation or bad data — present a major problem for marketers. Or is it an opportunity?

What if there was a better way?

Last year, we started using Siftrock. And it is a better way.

Siftrock is software that manages email replies for B2B companies by automating your “after the send” process.

It currently supports the major marketing automation platforms, including Act-On, Eloqua, Hubspot, Marketo & Pardot, and uses machine learning to monitor and manage auto-replies, as well as human replies.

But what does that mean exactly?

If you’re like many marketers, you know that sending out emails from people instead of generic handles like or tend to perform better. But that usually means a high volume of instant replies to real inboxes. So we set up rules to move these replies into a subfolder to review later. But who wants to spend the time to slog through hundreds of replies to find a handful with good information? We promise ourselves that we will find the time to dig into this folder. Time that is just never found.

Enter Siftrock, your ticket to not only managing these replies, but creating new opportunities at every turn.

Siftrock reviews all of these responses and will alert you of any human replies, so nothing gets lost in the subfolder shuffle. If you send an invite to a large group for an upcoming webinar and someone replies that their colleague would be a better fit, you won’t lose sight of that opportunity because Siftrock will flag this response.

If during the same email send, you get an out of office reply with another contact, Siftrock can pull this information out of the email and create a new lead in your automation system. These new names can be put into a unique campaign or program so you can follow up with an introduction to your company. If you’re using an ABM approach, this is a terrific way to grow your contacts at target accounts.

But this is just one example. There are a few different types of replies or bounce backs that you can encounter with your email programs. We’re going to go through how you can turn each of these issues into an opportunity.

Types of Replies and Bounces (+ how to win with them)


This is when your email is never delivered and the email server bounces back to tell you it was undeliverable.

Opportunity: Nobody likes bad data cluttering their automation systems.  And since some systems charge by the size of your database, better to get rid of that bad data when you find out.  Siftrock will suspend these bad contacts when they are flagged, or you can delete them if they seem like junk.

No Longer at Company

You will often get a reply when someone has left a company.  Instead of immediately removing an email address, a message is placed in the reply email explaining that the person is no longer at the company and explaining the best contact.  In some cases, this can include multiple contacts if the employee handled various tasks that have been spread across a team.

Opportunity: New contacts without running a campaign or buying a list?  That’s always a win!

Change of Address

When someone gets married and changes their name, their email address often will change as well.  And even though both emails are probably tracked, eventually the older email address will be deprecated.  To keep your database up to date, it’s critical to update the contact information.

Opportunity: Keeping your database nice and clean – and guaranteeing future deliverability when the maiden name email is potentially phased out.


If someone is going to be out of the office for an extended period of time with limited access to email, they typically turn their Out of Office (OOO) notification on.  This usually highlights other members of the team that are covering for them in their absence.

Opportunity: In addition to finding out additional contacts at the organization, this can be great for finding out who someone’s boss is if that isn’t clear anywhere else.

Spam Blocker

Increasingly, companies are blocking emails that they suspect are spam.  But in order to avoid this for personal communications, email systems will send a verification email that a human will need to interact with in order to confirm that the email was sent by a reliable source.

Opportunity: Many times, these alerts get lost in the shuffle.  If this verification is never processed, emails may never make it to the prospect, even if they could benefit from the content that you’re sharing.

Human Response

While most marketing emails encourage readers to engage with a CTA that will drive them to a landing page, a webinar sign up, or some other next action, there are times when a prospect will hit reply and ask a genuine question.

Opportunity: It’s critical that these emails don’t get lost in an alias account. These actual humans are reaching out and you should meet them where they are, not let their question or thought get lost in the piles of autoresponders pouring in after your email send.

As you can see, there is a ton of gold in each of these types of replies.  All of this data can help with your database development and data hygiene.

Real impact on your bottom line

Because siftrock integrates directly with MAP, those tools can inform your CRM about the impact of new leads.  In our instance, we added over 10,000 names into our database from siftrock in our first year. If that were the only success factor, that would be a great return on the investment for name development.  But we can also attribute some of our deals to names that were surfaced from siftrock tracking. That makes the ROI even more direct and impactful.



With the right technology and diligent planning you can turn marketing problems into opportunities to optimize this highly effective medium.

Instead of relying on data-mining luck, or depending on the hapless intern who would rather be doing more meaningful work, look into a data quality tool like siftrock to save you time and uncover some potential gold in your database engagement efforts.


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