Email Bots Logging Web Activity - HELP

Devraj_Grewal
Level 10

Re: Email Bots Logging Web Activity - HELP

Marisa,

Correct, if the click and open activity is from a bot or a human, it will still show in the activity log and an email report. What I would recommend is using "member of smart campaign" for the scoring clicks smart campaign and filtering by those in the email report. So then the report only includes people who had at least validated activity enough for the scoring.

Marisa_Rybar
Level 3

Re: Email Bots Logging Web Activity - HELP

I'm sorry, Devraj, but I don't understand what you're saying. The only people who received this email were members of the smart campaign that sent the email, so it doesn't change the numbers at all whether I look at this from the Email tab on the smart campaign or whether I look at this from the Email Performance Report where the parameters are this specific email in the Setup tab and the Smart List logic specifies members of the smart campaign that sent the email this morning.

Would you mind please being more clear? The bots from the emails of the people on this smart list are the ones doing the activity, so I don't see any way of distinguishing between the bot and the human. The only way I could fathom doing this would be to set parameters that say not to score something if it is opened or clicked on before the email is delivered, but that capability doesn't currently exist as far as I can tell.

Thanks for the ideas and insights!

Devraj_Grewal
Level 10

Re: Email Bots Logging Web Activity - HELP

Sorry about that confusion. Basically what I had accomplished is something similar, where I stopped scoring for email opens and only scored for email clicks if there was subsequent email click and visit webpage activity, another layer of validation that it was a human and not a bot. However, when an email report is run, it will still include all opens and clicks, humans and bots. So what I do is for the email report's smart list, I make sure that people were members of the scoring campaign for email clicks since those are the most trustworthy clicks. The result is that only those people who have clicked and visited a page will be included in the email report. I don't report on email opens anymore since it is not an accurate metric at all.

Marisa_Rybar
Level 3

Re: Email Bots Logging Web Activity - HELP

Ah, I see. That makes sense! Too bad we can't use this reporting anymore. I hope Marketo comes out with a solution soon!

Adele_Miller
Level 4 - Champion Alumni

Re: Email Bots Logging Web Activity - HELP

To refer you both to my original post I am afraid you could still be getting false positives with this workaround. The bots are now able to log web activity when they click all links, Support confirmed this for me as we had the same workaround in place as you are discussing.

Eunice_Leung
Level 1

Re: Email Bots Logging Web Activity - HELP

Hi Adele,

May I ask what solution Support has provided to you? I have the following rules in place but like many have mentioned before, these do not quarantine bot clicks entirely:

1) In scoring rule, set up filter to do not score clicks on an invisible link in emails we embedded for bots. But bots click on all links in an email. So those clicks are still being scored

2) Still include email performance report in program for product marketers but they love it. But then include a smart list that look at the clicks on the invisible links so they get an idea of what should be "discounted" from the email performance report.

3) Include a landing page performance report - but sounds like it wouldn't work either because bots click through emails now and that actions register in web activity.

In smart list, I can't find a way to look for email clicks happened before email delivery or setting up the minimum number of clicks within a minute. These two are good measures of finding out what clicks are from bots. Has anyone tried this and succeed?

Michael_Oslin
Level 2

Re: Email Bots Logging Web Activity - HELP

Hi Adele Miller

We just started noticing the same thing, clicks and web page visits. Our landing page metrics were great, but when we started digging into them they were all visits from email clicks by bots. Usually occurring in rapid succession right after the send.

So we are a bit at a loss, it seems like all our metrics are over inflated and we don't have a plan to curtail this problem.

I've been trying to implement solutions but every solution we deploy seems to have a "gotcha" or is not comprehensive or encompassing enough to avoid this over-inflation.

It seems like its a prevalent problem and something that could hurt the credibility of our reports dramatically, I'm hoping Marketo is taking a close look at this.

Have you figured out any type of solution since your original post?

Thank you-

Michael

Hana_AlBarazi
Level 1

Re: Email Bots Logging Web Activity - HELP

Hi Michael,

TLDR: Put dummy-links in your emails to capture bots .

We have realized that around 90% of clicks in our emails are bots! We came to this conclusion after having the same problem you described. For a work-around, we implemented a hidden section in all of our emails that includes a transparent pixel image, which dummy-links to our homepage and has a utm code of "bot" added to the URL. We have inserted the code pasted below above our email banner, so it's the first link in all emails, but only a computer can see it because it's technically hidden from view. 

<div class="mktEditable" id="HiddenLink" >

<center>

<span style="display: none; visibility: hidden; overflow: hidden;"><a href="http://www.homepage.com/?&utm_click=bot"><img src="Marketo_image_link_TransparentPixel-01.png"></a>

</span>

</center>

</div>

Then, we have two different reports/smart lists: clicks with bots, and clicks without bots. Because we have the "http://www.homepage.com/?&utm_click=bot" link, we can tell any smart list or report to count all of the clicks on that link, which we are assuming is a bot. We also have a smart list filters that will remove that "person" from the report if they've also clicked on any other link in the email, so we aren't accidentally discounting real people clicking.

The reporting is a manual process, which I think Marketo could definitely implement some out-of-the-box solutions (including making the dashboard view customizable to modify filters to exclude or include bot-clicks: ) - but if you make the bot link default in email templates, that helps.

I'm not a Marketo guru, so I'm not sure if you can include the dummy link in landing page click reporting. For example, counting if a person clicked on the dummy link, and also clicked on a link in a landing page, then they are a bot, etc. But obviously the timing of those clicks matters a lot - and I don't think Marketo can filter reports on that level of granularity yet. It sounds like this question is the bread and butter of this thread, but I wanted to throw in our work-around related to this issue in case it helps other people.

Let me know if you have any additional questions!

-Hana

SanfordWhiteman
Level 10 - Community Moderator

Re: Email Bots Logging Web Activity - HELP

...if they've also clicked on any other link in the email, so we aren't accidentally discounting real people clicking.

This doesn't make sense. Mail scanners also click on other links in the email (otherwise they have no purpose) so you aren't excluding them.

I have to tell you that this approach, which has been attempted by many, does not work.  You're getting a false assurance.

Hana_AlBarazi
Level 1

Re: Email Bots Logging Web Activity - HELP

Hi Sanford, thanks for the feedback. I'm a little new to the scene with these types of things, so forgive me if that's showing through!

So, it sounds like the real issue is the timing of the clicks, then? We need a better way to determine clicks that happen within the first seconds of the email being delivered (could be bots) versus anytime after that (could be humans).