7 Replies Latest reply on Apr 28, 2016 9:16 PM by Sanford Whiteman

    Clicks in emails not really being clicks

    Natali Talevski

      Hi all,

       

      We've had a lead in our system showing as having clicked links in an email, but when mentioned to the lead, they say they haven't clicked on anything. For example, the link in our email will be click here to request to be contacted, and it'll register that they've clicked, but when we get back to them, they say they did no such thing.

       

      We've ruled out spam filters checking links, and they haven't forwarded the email on to anyone else, so I'm not sure what else it could be.

       

      Has anyone else come across this, or know what might be the issue?

       

      Thanks

       

      Natali

        • Re: Clicks in emails not really being clicks
          Grégoire Michel

          Hi Natali,

           

          The most likely being the anti spam system, how do you now it's not an anti spam?

           

          -Greg

          • Re: Clicks in emails not really being clicks
            Juan Ngomo

            Hi Natali

            Have you see the post by Matt Roberts? it was very useful when i hada similar issue

            Spam filters registering clicks?

            https://nation.marketo.com/message/124584#comment-124584

            • Re: Clicks in emails not really being clicks
              Luke Wotton

              Email spam/security systems will 'click' a link and trigger Marketo actions even if the prospect never did anything.

               

              I read a post about this on the community - the best idea is to create an invisible-to-user 1x1 pixel link, then you know if someone clicks it, they're a security system.

               

              Then change your logic to say if clicks x but not clicked invisible-to-user 1x1 - you'll then know they're a legitimate user.

                • Re: Clicks in emails not really being clicks
                  Sanford Whiteman

                  'cept that doesn't work because a legitimate lead will have clicked both the invisible link and a CTA (the CTA more than once). 

                   

                  Truth is, the current granularity/selectivity of Smart Lists is simply not enough to combat this.  There have been some promising stabs at it (and they will help discard some unwanted clicks w/only minimal false positives) but until the click tracking server is capable of sub-second timing and heuristics, we can't work around the mail scanners.  And indeed that's by design, as I've commented elsewhere.  You're not supposed to be able to tell the difference, because if you can tell the difference then a malicious site operator can also tell the difference and act like they're innocent when they're being scanned.

                • Re: Clicks in emails not really being clicks
                  Natali Talevski

                  Thanks everyone for the replies!

                   

                  In answer to the questions above, we know its not spam filters as we have the invisible pixel link in our email templates (same as what Juan linked in his response) and this lead doesn't have that link in their click activity. This suggests to me that the click would have been legitimate.

                   

                  In response to Sanford's comment, I though that might happen when we first implemented the pixel link, but from what we've seen, less than 2% of all clicks are on the pixel (by way of example, in a recent campaign that registered 209 leads as clicking, only 4 of those leads clicked on the pixel link). So the pixel link works fairly well in combating spam filters.

                   

                  What I want to know is, is there any other way that Marketo might register a click when there wasn't one. The only thing I can think of is if the person forwarded the email to someone else and that person clicked. The tracking on the link would be unique to the original lead, so even if someone else clicked it, Marketo would register the click to the first person.

                   

                  Is there any other scenario that might see this happen as well?

                    • Re: Clicks in emails not really being clicks
                      Sanford Whiteman

                      This suggests to me that the click would have been legitimate.

                      Suggests, yep, but doesn't confirm.  As a developer, I can tell you that a scanner skipping over "invisible" pixels is child's play.  We're not talking about simple scripts that copy out all the links and follow 'em out of context. The sophisticated mail scanners are in fact headless browsers like the ones we use for testing web apps. They render the email as it would be rendered for a human. Since emails are old-fashioned static HTML, figuring out the final layout is very simple.  Finding and skipping those links that would be invisible to a human is easy. Remember that in the past year we've already seen scanners evolve from not following JS redirects to generating Visit Web Page activities!  They are going way past just simulating the first click to simulate the full browser experience.

                       

                      The only thing I can think of is if the person forwarded the email to someone else and that person clicked. The tracking on the link would be unique to the original lead, so even if someone else clicked it, Marketo would register the click to the first person.

                       

                      Is there any other scenario that might see this happen as well?

                      If a message is forwarded and clicked, like you said, the click will naturally be attributed to the lead for whom the link was personalized.

                       

                      All Clicked Link activities either result from human activity (true "clicks" from pointing devices or keyboard) or automated GETs by a non-human scanner.