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This is not unusual and it depends on how the recipient's email server is configured.
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This would be an out-of-band or asynchronous bounce. The recipient server accepts the message and returns a 250 OK delivered response. Then it does some evaluation on the message, decides it's undeliverable for whichever reason (like maybe the user doesn't exist on that domain or it thinks the message is spam), and sends back an additional soft/hard bounce message. The lead's activity log records every delivery/bounce response it receives from the recipient server in connection to the mailing. Ultimately it depends on how the recipient email server's configuration on if this will happen with an email or not.
Regardless of how the recipients mail server has given mixed messages, this is common enough and simple enough that surely Marketo could do a better job logging what's going on here. I think Marketo should be removing 'email is delivered' from the activity log if the email in fact bounced. This would greatly improve the reliability of reporting and the 'email is delivered' filter on critical email sends. I've added an idea, please like it if you agree:
5 of 5 people found this helpful
But a log is meant to be an append-only/sequential accounting of real activities. It's very, very bad to change logs after the fact: when we dump Marketo activities for a time range into our database, we must be sure that when we start from checkpoint 12:34, our previous snapshot through 12:34 is still an accurate representation of what's in Marketo. Otherwise API access to the log would be impossible to maintain. Same problem occurs in other parts of IT as well: the governing principle is you must not modify a log entry once it is written.
And really, the Email Delivered event remains totally accurate and I actively want to see it. The recipient's MX -- lazily/stupidly configured or not! -- did accept the message, giving an unequivocal thumbs-up. The later bounce doesn't mean the delivery was any more or less true, and it's also not impossible that the user did see the message but the later MDN (bounce message) was misinterpreted by Marketo (decoding the huge range of possible MDN formats is more art than science and you can't get 100.00% accuracy).
I sympathize with your uncertainty when using the "Email is delivered" filter, but I think you need to create a more complex filter. Perhaps there could be a new event type like Delivery Disposition Changed -- added sequentially after the Bounced, of course -- so you could make your filter on Delivered AND NOT D.D. Changed.