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Understand email contact suppression reasons
Understand email contact suppression reasons

What causes a suppression and what each email suppression reason means.

Laura Russell avatar
Written by Laura Russell
Updated over a week ago

A contact’s email address can be suppressed for many different reasons. Suppressions can happen intentionally or unintentionally. Each suppression is labelled with a reason, which gives you some further information about what caused that particular email address to be suppressed.

Contact suppressions

This article covers suppression reasons for email addresses. To learn more about mobile number suppressions, or contact level suppressions, check out the articles SMS contact opt-outs and Understand contact and channel suppressions.

Email suppression reasons

Email suppression reason


Soft bounced

The contact's email address is temporarily unreachable:

  • The contact's inbox is full.

  • The server that hosts the email address is having temporary problems accepting emails.

  • The email campaign is too large for the contact's inbox.

A soft bounce email suppression happens once an email address reaches the soft bounce limit that's set for your account. To learn more about setting a soft bounce limit, check out Adjusting soft bounce settings.

Hard bounced

The contact's email address is permanently unreachable:

  • The email address doesn't exist anymore.

  • The server that hosts the email address doesn't exist anymore.

  • The email address is invalid.


The contact is unsubscribed from your email campaigns:

  • The contact selected the unsubscribe link in an email campaign.

  • The contact is unsubscribed after running a Global Suppression List (GSL) check.

Suppressed by you

You or a managed user suppressed the contact’s email address in your account.

If you have chosen to sync opt-ins through the Dotdigital NetSuite integration, contacts who have not opted in are added to the suppression list with the reason Suppressed by you.

ISP complaint

The contact marked your email campaign as spam.

Mail block

The contact's email provider doesn't want to process email campaigns from you, likely because of the attachments in your campaigns.

Direct complaint

The contact made a direct complaint to Dotdigital, and we suppressed this contact’ email address from your account.

Globally suppressed

Contacts who've either complained directly to us in the past or are email addresses which are known spam traps or invalid addresses.

Domain suppression

Contacts whose email domain you have previously added to your suppression list.

Hard and soft bounces

Hard bounce vs soft bounce

A hard bounce happens when an email is sent to contacts whose addresses are permanently unreachable, most likely because they, or the server they were hosted on, don't exist: the email address is invalid. A hard bounce immediately results in the email address being placed on the suppression list.

A soft bounce happens when an email is sent to contacts whose addresses are temporarily unreachable, possibly because their mailboxes are full or their mail servers are having temporary issues accepting email. It doesn't necessarily mean the email address is invalid.


If an email address hard bounces once, or soft bounces too many times, it is suppressed from your account to prevent you from sending to it. This helps to protect your sending address and server from being blocked for spamming.

You can set how many times an email address can consecutively soft bounce before it becomes suppressed in your account.

Types of bounce response

You might sometimes see a bounce response for an email address with some additional information about the type of bounce:

  • Soft bounce - DNS failure: Although we tried several times, we were unable to determine which mail server is configured to accept mail for this email address. This may be due to the correct mail server undergoing maintenance at the times we attempted to send the message.

  • Soft bounce - mailbox full: The recipient's mailbox is too full to accept the email you tried to send them.

  • Soft bounce - message too large: The recipient's mail server won't accept a message of this size.

  • Bounce - no email address: A bounce came back, but the mail server we sent the message to didn't indicate who the bounce was on behalf of. We've identified the intended recipient, based on the content of the message being returned.

  • General bounce: The mail server returned the message to us, but didn't indicate a reason why.

Suppressed vs unsubscribed email addresses

In Dotdigital, you can choose to manually suppress an email address from your account.

Suppressed email addresses

When you suppress a contact’s email address, it is added to the account suppression list with the reason Suppressed by you, and they no longer receive any email communications from your account. You can think of suppression as a Do not contact status which you can apply to a contact’s email address, mobile number, or both.

Suppressing a contact can only be done by you or a member of your team; contacts can't suppress themselves. You can unsuppress a contact’s email address manually at any point.

If you resubscribe a contact’s email address which was Suppressed by you, the email address is immediately added back in to your Contacts master list, without the need for the contact to confirm this through a resubscribe link in an email.

Read more in Resubscribe a contact.

Unsubscribed email addresses

Contacts whose email address is unsubscribed have decided they no longer want to receive your email communications. Their email address is added to the account suppression list with the suppression reason Unsubscribed.

If you manually resubscribe a contact’s email address when they have unsubscribed, they are sent a resubscribe confirmation email, and must confirm their resubscription using the link in the email. If the contact doesn’t do this, their email address remains on the suppression list.

Contacts can also unsubscribe from individual marketing preferences or lists, rather than unsubscribing from all communications from you.

View the suppression reason for an email address

You can view the suppression reason for an email address in the suppressed contacts table:

  1. Go to Audience > Suppressions.

  2. Select FILTER.

  3. Select the Contacts with a suppressed email address radio button, then select APPLY.

You can see the reason for the email address suppression in the Status column.

You can also view the suppression reason for an email address in the Single customer view:

  1. Go to Audience > Suppressions.

  2. Use the search field or filter to find the contact, then select their email address to open the Single customer view.

  3. Select the Data fields tab at the top of the page.

You can see the reason for the email address suppression next to the Email field.

Email reports

To view bounced emails, unsubscribes or ISP complaints for a specific email campaign:

  1. Go to Analytics > Reports.

  2. Select the email campaign name. E

  3. Expand the MORE REPORTS drop-down menu and select the relevant drilldown report.

Automatic unsuppressions

If an email address on the Global Suppression List (GSL) engages with any email campaign:

  • We remove the contact from the GSL if they were added because they hard bounced, soft bounced, or had no MX record.

  • The contact’s global soft bounce count resets to zero.

To learn more about the GSL, check out the article Use the Global Suppression List to revise your contact list.

Additionally, email addresses are removed from your account’s suppression list after a year if they were suppressed because they reached your soft bounce threshold.

When email addresses are unsuppressed for any of these reasons, they aren't automatically added to your account - but they can be created or uploaded again.

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