Filtering Email Bot Activity Feature FAQs

Marketo Employee
Marketo Employee

Filtering of email bot activity


Email bot activity has been one of the most asked features in our Marketo community. As an initial release of this feature, we have taken an approach of filtering the email open and email link click activities by matching them with an Identified list of IPs and User-agents.  This is the list provided by IAB (International Advertising Bureau).


Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)


Q: How this feature works?

A: As described above, when an email is sent we receive email opens and clicks as per the engagement. When an email open/click reaches Marketo servers, it will check if either IP or user-agent of the received open/click matches with an entry in the identified list of user-agents/IPs (provided by IAB) then those clicks/opens are considered as bot activity and will not be logged into Marketo


Q: How can I enable the feature?
A: Its simple, goto Admin > Email > Email bot activity, click on the enable filtering of email bot activity. Here are the Marketo docs for more help

Q: What activities will be filtered as part of this feature?
A: Only Email Opens and Email Clicks activities.

Q: Does this feature affect the activities that are already in my database?
A: No, filtering is done only for activities that log after the feature is enabled from Admin.

Q: Is the filtering applied to emails that are sent after the filtering is enabled?
A: Yes, applicable only for activities that get logged after the filter is enabled. In cases like where email was sent before but leads open/click email after the filtering is enabled then those activities will be considered.

Q: How do I know if the feature is working?
A: You can see the number of email bot activity filtered so far since the last 90days in your Admin > Email > Email bot activity section

Q: Will I see any delay of activities logging into Marketo?
A: No, in the current version of the filtering delay that got introduced is negligible so you should be experiencing any delay in logging of activities into Marketo

Q: What happens if bot clicked the link and then a real person opened the links? Will the real open/click be logged or not?
A: Yes, human click will be logged. Since the filtering is based on IP and user-agents and when a real person opens and clicks their IPs/User-agents will not be part of IAB's list they will not be filtered

Q: What happens if I disable the features after few days?
A: Filtering of the activities will be stopped and all activities will start to log into your Marketo instance.

Q: When the filtering feature is disabled, does the change (stop filtering) immediately take place?
A: Yes, filtering stops immediately

Q: Is there any chance that some default filtering was applied in this release that works without enabling the feature?
A: No, filtering only works when enabled

Q: Can I see the activities that are filtered through Smartlist? or If I disable the feature, will I get back the activities that are filtered?
A: No, currently activities that are identified as triggered by the bot will not be logged in to Marketo. So, they cannot be viewed through Smartlist or other means.

Q: Can we swap back and forth between filtering and not filtering to see how it affects our data without any loss of data or any permanent impact?
A: Yes, when you enable its activities will not be logged, and when you disable all new activities will continue to log. You can check the difference in the number of activities being logged.

Q: Once we click enable (to filter out all the bot activity) does the bot data disappear from every email data report (i.e analytics, email program summary, revenue explorer)?
A: Yes, activities that are identified as bot will not be logged at all into Marketo so reports might be showing lower metrics but as I mentioned only for new/future activities of email opens and clicks

Q: Is there any way to view the log of activities blocked by the new Filter Out Email Bots Activity feature?
A: We are storing the bot activities of the last 7days in our internal dashboard which our teams will have access and they should be able to extract or provide more insights into what are the IPs/user-agents identified in your subscription so far, bot activities identified against a campaign, etc.

Q: Will this feature filter all the bot-generated activities?
A: No, in this current version it only identifies activities generated from a known list of bots. To capture other types of bot activities, would need more sophisticated solutions like pattern recognitions (eg: both open/clicks happened at the same time, clicks triggered before open, etc) which we would like to do more research and target for the future releases.

Q: Can I see all the domains from which I am getting the bot activities so that I can avoid targeting respective email IDs?
A: No, these details are not present as of now but would love to know what all insights/data you would like to see going forward.


I hope most of your questions are addressed, in case you have more questions/ feedback/ information that you would like to see/ ideas for the next version that you would like to share w.r.t filtering of email bot activities please feel free to write to me at or comment here.

Marketo Employee

Should eliminate logging activities into Marketo that identified as bots
Should just mark the identified activities with an attribute let's say bot-activity "True"


Which approach do you think we should stick with going forward?

Level 10 - Community Moderator

Should eliminate logging activities into Marketo that identified as bots
Should just mark the identified activities with an attribute let's say bot-activity "True"


Which approach do you think we should stick with going forward?

I far prefer the latter (marking).

Level 2

Should eliminate logging activities into Marketo that identified as bots
Should just mark the identified activities with an attribute let's say bot-activity "True"


Which approach do you think we should stick with going forward?

I second that. I would prefer to see that activity marked as bot activity - however, something we would be able to filter off of so that we are able to exclude bot activities in say lead scoring etc. Marking would allow us to see what percentage of activity is bot vs user instead of deleting the data completely.

Marketo Employee

Can you point out few use cases, how you would like to use the activities that are marked as bot activity in Marketo?

Level 3

I, too, prefer the marking of the record and being able to filter on that activity.


This would be helpful in comparing emails sent prior to activating vs. after. As it is now, I just see a drop in engagement, and I don't know if the person was a bot, or if they just didn't engage with our content for that mailing. But, if I were able to see which records were associated with bot clicks (and if they ever had human interaction with my content), I could better understand the drop in engagement. I could also make notations on this legacy data to note the percentage of probable bot clicks to make it comparable to data collected after activation, especially as this change was implemented mid-year.

Level 10 - Community Moderator

Couldn't have said it better than @Christiane_Rode. It's about comparative reporting. We have a lot of trouble claiming something is invisibly working.

Level 3

I think it would be useful to have 2 options: Filter + tag in contact record, and just tag (for those that want custom actions etc like @SanfordWhiteman @Christiane_Rode )

The ability to filter as has been deployed i'm fine with (looks like 5% so far are bots), but its more the challenge of looking at contacts/companies and saying "no Bob from Adobe did not click on your email, the bot there did" which would be needed for marketing/sales/stakeholders. That would require the ability to see which records had bot clicks.


TI'm also curious what the Marketo deliverability team think of using this function to highlight records that should be reviewed manually to check they're still valid - as would spam trap bot clicks be captured by this? Therefore if this was a data value we could use in automation, we could create programs to highlight contacts that account managers/sales need to review.


Overall happy with the first iteration 🙂


Level 1

Anytime we change the way we monitor metrics, it presents a YOY KPI comparison challenge. I think the solution is a 2-part:

  1. Add a label "bot" for the next 365 days, so we can have both comparative KPIs for last year, and we can filter out the bots to begin establishing new KPIs for next year.
  2. Remove the label "bot" after 365 as we should now have comparative KPIs going back a year, and the "bot" label becomes legacy
Level 4

Do we know how the email bot model works? What is the identification criteria? 

- Too many frequent clicks within a few seconds?

- No open and multiple clicks?

- Open and multiple clicks?

- Clicks happening after regular interval of time?


Marketo Employee

Hey @ccolahan , Can you please provide more details for your solution?