Are Email Click Bots Skewing Your Online Engagement Metrics?


They very well could be.

If you are noticing a spike in your email click activity, and you don’t have a valid explanation for it, then you could be the victim of an email click bot. You may have heard of SPAM bots before, designed to collect or farm email addresses from the web, create lists, and spam people with unwanted emails. Bots are actually the source of quite a bit of traffic on the internet. It’s estimated that around 48% of web traffic originates from a bot, and they are far more sophisticated today than even a few years ago.

To be fair, not all bots are bad bots. Some have a valid use, such as Google’s search engine bots that crawl websites and index them, or bots that are used to help automate different processes (think “Chat Bots”). Unfortunately, there are SPAM or better-named SCAM bots, that are an easy way to perpetuate fraudulent activity on the web, creating fake clicks and false impressions for apps, websites, and these days, even emails.

Some of these bad bots are used for advertising fraud, creating false clicks on digital ads, and some are even used for all-out cyber-attacks. Email click bots are the close cousin to the SPAM bots, many designed to click links in emails as a way to explore, find, and exploit potential vulnerabilities.

At other times, the bot clicks could be a well-intentioned email server attempting to make sure the links contained in your email are safe before sending them on to the recipient. Whether the purposes are nefarious or well-intentioned, the bottom line is the unnatural click activity can wreak havoc on your ability to accurately track your email campaign metrics.

What Can You Do About This Problem?

If the bot activity is related to your email servers’ bots scanning your email, there are a couple courses of action that are often recommended. One of the most popular solutions is designing a white link on a white background that is essentially invisible to the human eye. You can then use that link and the clicks it receives to determine who is clicking it.

Once you have the “who,” you can move on to creating a dynamic list and setting it to exclude the bots. However, this method is flawed, because it could backfire and indicate to legitimate bots that you’re trying to hide illegitimate activity within your email. This means as a sender, you could get flagged and given a bad rap.

What’s the better alternative? Use filters to track your email clicks. More specifically, use only two filters. These should be noted whether the email was delivered to the desired recipient, and whether or not that recipient visited the actual page you’re trying to send them to. Not only is using this method the best way to record clicks that are real, but it also helps you to avoid skewing your metrics.

After all, not every click in an email is one you want. You don’t really want to track how many times a reader (or bot) has clicked the image of your logo or social media link. The goal is to accurately gauge how many readers are clicking and navigating to the actual page you are referring to them too.

Obviously, this solution isn’t perfect and may not be a good fit for everyone, but out of a barrel full of flawed ways to fight bot clicks and try to get a handle on your email metrics, it appears to be the best of the bunch. Your mileage may vary.

Ultimately, this is why we feel that at this time, the single best way to measure the effectiveness of your email campaigns is by measuring and tracking engagement. Engagement is the metric you can count on. If people are engaging with you and your business via your emails, not just by clicking links but by opening the email, reading the email, following through on a CTA in the email… you can rest easy knowing that you must be doing something right.

There’s nothing better than a click, we can help your business grow touchpoints. Call us.

See Also:

The Marketing Comeback Kid of 2018: The E-Newsletter

There is Life or Death in Your Email Subject Lines

Email Marketing: 7 Strategies to Blow Away the Competition

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