Re: Help - extremely poor open and clicks (mostly by bots)!

Level 1

Help - extremely poor open and clicks (mostly by bots)!

We just started our email marketing efforts recently with a brand new database.

For the first email, I expected some bounces, so not surprised with that. 

What I didn't expect is our open rate and click rate will be so low. We have 6.5% open rate and approx 2% click rate. But when I looked at the details, I found that most of these opens and clicks are from what seems like bots, since they have the same pattern of going through every single link on the email (including our social media links, the privacy policy and unsubscribe), and come from the same set of 3 or 4 large financial institutions..

From 6600 emails sent out, we seem to only have 3 real people that have actually clicked and gone to our landing page! The quality of my emails is decent (sure, everyone has room for improvement). Its definitely not bad enough to warrant click rate of less than .05%!

Does anyone have any other thoughts on what else I should be looking for? Is it possible the emails are going into their bulk/spam folder (not marked as spam, but just not being read)? How could I correct that?

Level 9 - Community Advisor + Adobe Champion

Re: Help - extremely poor open and clicks (mostly by bots)!

Just in case you haven't already - would suggest applying a constraint to read only marketable records. You could also apply a spam monitor program to be better-informed of the potential bad leads for next sends. There c/should be much more to check and looking for thoughts here!

Level 8 - Community Advisor

Re: Help - extremely poor open and clicks (mostly by bots)!

You mentioned that you started with a brand new database, what is the source of this data?

How old is your marketo instance that you used to send out these emails?

Since you mentioned these are from financial institution, you can understand the security level implement there. I have worked in the past with a financial firm and I can tell you it's close to impossible to pass through the email scanner. 

The approach we used was:

1. We first sent emails to those who we know are active or to those who belongs to companies where we have leads engaging with our emails. We continue sending the emails to these for 3-4 weeks.

2. After that we started adding small number every week with keeping an eye on the performance.

3. In addition, we asked our customer advocates to help us whitelisting our IP address on their servers.

Level 1

Re: Help - extremely poor open and clicks (mostly by bots)!

Thanks Amit.

The Marketo instance is brand new. The data was sourced from a discoverorg type of service and then passed through neverbounce to ensure emails are valid.

I'm not concerned about getting blocked by spam filters. The concern is more around email that are getting delivered but that go to junk folders instead.

Add to it the fact that from the ones that did click, more than 90% were by firewall bots - i did a manual analysis of every record. So this brings the numbers down quite a bit.

Will try some of the tips you mentioned. Thanks.

Marketo Employee

Re: Help - extremely poor open and clicks (mostly by bots)!

I would suggest a consulting engagement with the Marketo Deliverability team for some advice on how to land in the inbox. A new instance with your brand sending for the first time from new IPs, to addresses that sounds like were possibly purchased instead of organically sourced from interested recipients (please review our policies)....a lot of red flags that will keep your emails out of inboxes. 

Level 5

Re: Help - extremely poor open and clicks (mostly by bots)!

My first thought for the low click rates is the quality of your list. Sending to cold leads, like those you would get from DOrg, typically have low engagement and do not typically go to the "Focused" inbox in outlook.

Additionally, to see your "real" clicks easier, we have started actually getting that data from Google Analytics. We tag all the links in an email with the campaign, source, and medium (given that the links are pointing to a website that is hooked to GA). Then filter based on those UTM tags for that data in GA to get how many visitors came to the site from the email.

You can even take a step further and subtract all the people that "bounced" on the page to get a number of people who truly engaged with your email. 

Level 2

Re: Help - extremely poor open and clicks (mostly by bots)!

I also have this question (how to separate "real" clicks by people from automated ones), and I appreciate your response. I just don't understand: if a bot clicks on that link, wouldn't that activity appear with all the same utm parameters in GA? 

Level 5

Re: Help - extremely poor open and clicks (mostly by bots)!

Yes and no. It all depends if they load that part of the JS. Some bots do, most don't. Which is why I mentioned that last part because subtracting out the people that bounce, will get you a number of leads who have clicked the link in the email and stayed on the LP, which bots won't do. But with this you are also potentially subtracting real people who clicked but then bounced on the site. 

Even if you don't subtract out the bounces, either of these numbers will be closer to the truth than reporting out of Marketo.

Neither are 100% accurate but for my purposes have been close enough to get an idea of how emails are performing.

I have taken it a step further and am marrying this data in Tableau. I am taking the sent, delivered, bounced, opened, and unsubscribed data from Marketo and coupling it with GA data for site sessions, bounces, avg time on site, and goal completions. I am doing this only at the campaign level, so can't see individual email stats but can see campaigns as a whole. This has worked pretty good for us to see what's working, what's not.

Level 7

Re: Help - extremely poor open and clicks (mostly by bots)!

Marketing Interface Team,

You mention that you mailed to a brand new database, this sounds like these were addresses you had never mailed and who you did not have a previous relationship.  As a reminder, Marketo has an Email Use Policy that is explicitly Opt In.  

Acceptable Use Policy for Adobe Campaign | Adobe 

Prohibition against Unsolicited Email/Spam:

Customers must refrain from directly or indirectly sending, transmitting, distributing, or delivering:

Unsolicited bulk email ("spam" or "spamming”) i.e., emails to persons who have not consented to the receipt of such emails by providing their email address in a manner from which consent to receive email may be reasonably implied.

(ii) Email to an address obtained via Internet harvesting or other surreptitious methods (e.g., scraping, renting, purchased list, co-registration, affiliate marketing, incomplete or old lists; or email appending).  Adobe defines email appending as a marketing practice that involves taking known Customer Data (name, address, etc.) and matching it against a third-party vendor’s database to obtain email addresses.

(iii) Email that generates abuse/spam complaints or spam trap hits resulting in IP/Domain blacklisting or other deliverability issues that could have material impact on Adobe or its client’s reputation.

Marketo and Adobe maintain this policy to help ensure our customers are following the best practices required to avoid violating Privacy laws globally as well as ensure that our customers can achieve the best delivery rates possible by maintaining healthy email reputations.  Unsolicited email is often complained about and is not engaged with, both actions will impact your reputation as a sender and increase the likelihood of mail being delivered to the spam folder or blocked outright.

If you are looking for information on how to leverage cold leads within Marketo while not violating the Use Policy this may be a place to start.

Best Practices for Purchased Data 

Thank you,


Kiersti Esparza
Level 10 - Community Moderator

Re: Help - extremely poor open and clicks (mostly by bots)!

What Kiersti Esparza‌said. Spamming a purchased list hurts every other user of the multitenant platform.

In addition, though I'm loath to give advice on how to spam people -- there is no "right" way -- no one asked about other characteristics of these sends. For example, did they violate DMARC policies? Were URLs in the content on a URIBL? Were domains in the SMTP headers already on a DNSBL because of prior unsolicited activity?