[Shared Blog]: I Want to Believe, But: Your Email Link Clicks Aren’t Real

Dan_Stevens_
Level 10 - Champion Alumni

Re: [Shared Blog]: I Want to Believe, But: Your Email Link Clicks Aren’t Real

Hi Joelle - I'm sharing this because it's been a topic of concern for some time now (especially in the B2B world).  And to be honest, I don't think most users even know it's an issue.  They see the positive metrics in their email dashboards and reports and just take it for granted that they are completely accurate.  And that's not the case.  Not for us and many others who have been active is a variety of related discussions here in the community.  It's not Marketo's fault - although I welcome any innovative approach they may come up with to combat this).  It's the nature of the business - that successfully making it into the user's inbox - especially when sending from a mass email platform like Marketo - is more challenging than ever (even though the "delivered" percentages say otherwise).  And it's even more challenging for those of us that focus our campaigns using an account-centric/ABM approach (marketing to several contacts in the same account).

Here are some of the discussions I'm referring to:

Email not delivered?

How do you make your email deliverability unstoppable?

Now that ABM is such a large focus for many marketers, how are you operationally emailing everyone e...

Re: False positive Email delivered?

Spam filters registering clicks?

Re: False positive on email click affecting lead scoring

Email Clicks on Delivery But No Matching Web Page Visits Logged

Email Bots Logging Web Activity - HELP

Email was clicked before it was delivered? It's a link scanner

Misreporting Email Clicks - Hitting Email Probes

Joelle_Andrews
Level 1

Re: [Shared Blog]: I Want to Believe, But: Your Email Link Clicks Aren’t Real

Yeah, we've been dealing with this for a while, but in the last few weeks we've seen a huge spike in fake activity.  Very annoying for us and Sales.

Michael_Kopp1
Level 2

Re: [Shared Blog]: I Want to Believe, But: Your Email Link Clicks Aren’t Real

Wow, I just discovered this issue and feel a little out of touch for not seeing it much earlier.

 

In a world of nothing but bad choices, having the person potentially not attributed to a legit click is worse than overcounting clicks and click rates. For that, I will pull a report and understand our avg/median number of false clicks as a % and then manually apply that to reporting as the "estimated real clicks".

 

It makes me feel lied to over these past years and it will not look good on long term reporting when suddenly clicks are dropped by 20%. Because that is close to how many clicks we're seeing as not human.

 

This one will be hard to solve.

Past the point of no return.
dillonlee02
Level 3

Re: [Shared Blog]: I Want to Believe, But: Your Email Link Clicks Aren’t Real

For Marketo Landing Pages:

Shouldn't you be able to do the following that involve Marketo landing pages as the main CTA that you're trying to see clicked?

 

dillonlee02_0-1639721207307.png

 

To my understanding, email protection systems such as Barracuda and Proofpoint click links within your email during the first few minutes of launch (e.g., 1 minute or less), and they don't tend to actually visit the web page as they are only checking to see if said links are malicious. This is how I would go about setting this up if I am running a triggered program that will listen for anyone who clicked the link in the email AND Visited Web Page. Would this setup be correct?

 

For Website Links:

Email protection systems will click on the links, but not actually open the email. This is my thought, but someone please correct me if I am wrong. Would you be able do the following:

 

dillonlee02_2-1639722081484.png

 

 

And then you would be able to write to a static list in the flow, I'm sure?

dillonlee02_3-1639722245101.png

 

Now, another way that I'm thinking about is that I'm sure you could add a Date of Activity constraint to filter out spam clicks too (especially if you are wanting to see who clicked the email in a certain amount of time (e.g., 1 minute or less)). You could set up a Triggered campaign to run, and let's say your email goes out Today at 2 PM ET, you could set a reminder to yourself to monitor the campaign between 2:00 PM ET and 2:01 PM ET, and to turn off the triggered campaign after that and have it written to a list like above? Only thing different would be using the Date of Activity constraint in your smart list as such:

 

dillonlee02_4-1639722513765.png

 

and then...

 

dillonlee02_3-1639722245101.png

 

OR if you want to automate this process, here is what I would do....

 

dillonlee02_5-1639722710785.png

 

dillonlee02_3-1639722245101.png

 

hit Run Once

dillonlee02_6-1639722752090.png

 

and have this scheduled to run 1 minute after your email launches...

dillonlee02_7-1639722827303.png

 

Just some thoughts. Everything I said above may not be entirely the most accurate way, and if you personally think the time limit in the Date of Activity constraint should be adjusted, feel free to move up to 2 or 3 minutes, but usually these email protection systems click malicious links literally within minutes, and don't open the email nor visit your web pages. Only checking links if they are malicious or not.

 

Hope this helps! Happy Marketo.

 

Best,

Dillon

 

Danielle_Wong
Level 8 - Community Advisor

Re: [Shared Blog]: I Want to Believe, But: Your Email Link Clicks Aren’t Real

Hi Joelle, How can I tell if there's false positive clicks on my emails?

Joelle_Andrews
Level 1

Re: [Shared Blog]: I Want to Believe, But: Your Email Link Clicks Aren’t Real

Hi Danielle -

Go to the activity log of any lead you suspect.  If you see multiple "clicked link in email" all in a row and occurring within the same 60 seconds or so, you've probably got a false click.  We figured this out when we were pinged on Super Bowl Sunday that a bunch of people wanted demos of our product right away.  I'd love to believe that, but Super Bowl Sunday??  😄

Danielle_Wong
Level 8 - Community Advisor

Re: [Shared Blog]: I Want to Believe, But: Your Email Link Clicks Aren’t Real

Ah okay!! I'd love to believe that too!!

Good thinking. I will check it out!

Thanks Joelle

Courtney_Grimes
Level 10

Re: [Shared Blog]: I Want to Believe, But: Your Email Link Clicks Aren’t Real

Oh, hey, this is here! I tend to only post super-Marketo-related items on the Champions blog, so for more generalized things like this (and to hear from fabulous folks like Liz Medeiros​ and Alex Greger​) you should check out https://www.demandlab.com/insights.

That said: the usual recommendation is for smaller instances to go ahead and do what Dan mentions--a trigger of "Visited Web Page" along with a filter of "Email Was Delivered" within a certain time period (usually 2-3 weeks) with a Program Status Change of "Clicked" or similar--but I like the idea of putting a wait step on just visiting the web page, waiting, and doing a delivery check for more active or larger instances.

SanfordWhiteman
Level 10 - Community Moderator

Re: [Shared Blog]: I Want to Believe, But: Your Email Link Clicks Aren’t Real

Hey Courtney, coupla things:

  • On your diagram you note that the branding (click tracking) server drops a cookie before redirecting. Technically, yeah, but that load-balancing affinity cookie from Marketo's F5 infrastructure isn't related to Munchkin and/or tracking, and need not be accepted by the browser. Everything works fine without it. It would (IMO) be better to leave it out of the diagram b/c some people do think Munchkin sessions start at the click tracking phase.
  • To the degree Visits Web Page + Email Was Delivered is actionable, isn't Visits Web Page with a Referrer constraint on your branding domain just as actionable*?  Such visits always resulted from delivered emails, by definition (as long you have not completely disabled tracking, which you didn't recommend). Or maybe I'm missing a nuance to this combo.  EDIT: I see now you're assuming the links aren't taggable with email-specific info! But I may be on to something in this regard... stay tuned.
SanfordWhiteman
Level 10 - Community Moderator

Re: [Shared Blog]: I Want to Believe, But: Your Email Link Clicks Aren’t Real

stay tuned.

A glimpse of what I just started working on:

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The above is a legitimate, human-driven Clicked Email event, distinguished from automated clicks on the same link by a special-purpose User-Agent ("TrueVoyage").