Bots increasing engagement scores?

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Level 2

Bots increasing engagement scores?

I have seen a couple of posts about the issue of bots/spam filters clicking on all of the links in e-mails, which then causes the contact's engagement score to increase... leading us to believe the contact is engaging with our content when in fact they haven't even seen the e-mail yet!

I have seen people suggesting hiding pixels, embedding codes, etc... and it may be because I am still very much learning Marketo, but... can the following be a solution?

When I look at e-mails that were clicked on by bots, I notice the clicks happen right after "email delivered", but there isn't activity logged for "email opened".

Email Delivered.JPG

When I look at e-mails where I know the contact was the one who actually clicked, they have "email delivered" > "opened email" and then "click email".

Email Open.JPG 

This has been consistent from what I can tell.  Bots click right after delivery, and actual contacts open after delivery and then click.  

My Lead Scoring originally just assigned 2 points if they clicked a link in an email.  If I add a trigger that requires them to also have "opened email", would that solve this issue?  I assume then, it won't add scores for bot activity since the "open email" trigger doesn't happen?  Or do Triggers not work that way and you can't combine them together with an AND statement? Am I missing something?  Thank you!

Scoring Clicks Link.JPG

4 REPLIES 4
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Re: Bots increasing engagement scores?

Hi Lindsay,

there have been a lot of discussions around this lately in the community, and an excellent article from Courtney Grimes​ you can read here: https://www.demandlab.com/insights/blog/want-believe-email-link-clicks-arent-real/

There is not much you can really do and I personally advise all my customers to stop scoring email clicks and opens. Sorry, that might not be the answer you wanted to get

-Greg

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Re: Bots increasing engagement scores?

At this point it seems to me that it would be wiser to use negative scoring around emails (for unsubscribes) and positive scoring for engagements resulting from email marketing.

I found it funny that most of my instinctual answers to the problem were covered in the section for what you *shouldn't* do on that post.

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Re: Bots increasing engagement scores?

Hi Justin,

The difficulty is that it's very difficult, if not impossible, to separate bot from human beings on email opens and clicks. You need to see the interactions in total to know. For instance, 10 clicks in a 1 second time frame is very likely a bot. 1 click followed by a form fill out is almost 100% a human being. But Marketo does not make it easy to detect such a series of actions and fire a trigger on them. It's only visible "post mortem".

Now your idea of negative scoring on unsubscribe is good, as long as it's based on a form fill out and not on mere clicked link in a email.

On the other end, scoring on engament on email marketing, i.e. email opens and clicks, drives to a lot of false positives (and false negatives for opens).

-Greg

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Re: Bots increasing engagement scores?

Yeah in my case it would be changing score when unsubscribe category fields go from false to true. Email clicks have never really worked for us, and we've never had an efficient solution so I've tried to build everything I can around the problem.