Clickbots are a curse to all marketers.

With the rise of security bots, email click metrics are getting harder to trust.

Marketers reviewing email results are often frustrated because the number of clicks looks…wrong.

Security bot clicking

First, let’s understand what’s happening.

When email metrics look inflated, a common culprit is email security bots.

Most click bots are security applications and scripts run by businesses and email providers. These programs scan each email and click through every link to ensure it leads to a secure website. Unfortunately, this process also racks up false bot clicks that marketers often mistake for real audience engagement.

Check for bot clicks

Examples of suspicious bot activity may include:

• Clicking very single link in an email

• Clicking two links less than 100ms apart

• Clicking an email immediately after it’s delivered.

• Clicking an email before it’s marked as opened.

Next-level bot clicking

Cyber-security software is getting more sophisticated. 

Companies like Darktrace leverage artificial intelligence (AI) for cyber security. It uses a different IP address for various links in a single email (prevents email marketers from filtering bots with IP addresses). Darktrace also clicks on links at different time intervals, making it difficult for marketers to discern if the click is from a human or a bot.

 Many of the old strategies marketers used don’t work anymore.

You used to be able to:

  • Filter out multiple clicks from the same IP address.
  • Identify duplicate clicks from the same email domain.
  • Spot suspicious behaviors. For example, experts say that bots often click the first link in your newsletter (often the View in Browser link) within 1-5 minutes of the send.
  • Look for patterns in your email list. Sometimes, bot addresses will have similar sequences of letters or numbers. This makes it easier to find and filter out these addresses.

Marketers are puzzled. Click metrics that have historically been a reliable measure are now junk.

Measure stronger prospect engagement

Marketers need to raise the bar. Don’t score off high-level email activity (opens/clicks). 

Instead, track more robust prospect engagement. 

Top marketers don’t use email click data. They look for stronger prospect actions, such as form submissions, webinar registrations, content syndication downloads, or form submissions on paid media.

How to measure an email click

Send prospects who click on your email to a landing page to get the desired call-to-action.

For example, when prospects click on your email, they should go to a landing page with a single call to action, such as “Download Content” or “Watch Video.”

This creates a two-click scenario (bypassing the bot/security filters), and marketers only monitor the landing page click.

Or marketers can track whether the prospect has viewed the landing page.

email metrics two click method

Let’s be honest

The hard truth is that marketers need to adapt. 

In the last two years, marketers have seen third-party tracking evaporate and email opens/clicks metrics rapidly deteriorate.

Marketers resist change because email opens/clicks have been easy to track for many years. Another challenge is explaining to corporate leadership that traditional email metrics, which have been scrutinized to measure success for years, are now over-inflated.

Being an email marketer is challenging but not impossible. 

Good marketers learn to maneuver. They adapt. They innovate.

With the proper adjustments, marketers can develop their strategies with confidence.