Bot Activity in Email

Before your email reaches a human eyeball, bots will be all over it! They’re mostly harmless, but to get the results you want from your campaigns, you need to know what they’re doing and why.

The primary function of bots is to scan for harmful emails, particularly viruses and other spam. As part of this, they scan the code of every email and follow all the links to see whether they go to a harmful site. This all happens before the email registers in the inbox, so a recipient won’t notice it happening.

If you’re already a CommuniGator customer, the measures below are in place to strip bot activity from your results. If you aren’t, read on to find out how bots are impacting your results, and what you can do about it.

How to identify bot activity

The Need for Speed

GatorMail is able to show you a graph of the time that Opens and Clicks on a typical campaign happen. The surest sign of bot activity is a flurry of Clicks immediately after your campaign goes live. Even people who are good at staying on top of their inbox aren’t that fast!

Bots are interrogating your emails before they land in the inbox. You will see clicks appear even before the email is delivered. This isn’t a problem with your report, it’s bots doing their job..


Tracked Links

To protect you from viruses, bots will follow every link in an email to its destination. This is to get past the trickery of a URL which has been disguised as something else. This is usually done via TinyURL or other shorteners.

The upside of this is that you can insert a link which only a bot will trigger. This can be a single pixel image in the footer. Make it the same colour as the background of your email, and it will be invisible to the naked eye. However, a bot will find it and click on it. This method also removes fake opens triggered by iOS email clients.

What do I need to do about bots?

Measuring what matters

If Opens and Clicks are still prominent features of your reports, then bots are causing you trouble. Bots open every email and clicking every link as they go about their work. This will throw these two metrics way off what they should be. If your campaign got 100% Clicks, but you haven’t filtered out bot activity, don’t crack open the champagne just yet!

If you’re reporting on a range of stats, unfiltered bot activity can still damage you in the other direction. What if everyone you sent an email to clicked on the links, but there was no corresponding surge in website activity? You might conclude that your content was no good. You might change your writing style or redesign your email layout. This effort would all be wasted, as those clicks are actually bots.

The best way forward is to measure cumulative website activity off the back of an email campaign. We have a list of “20-point movers” in our CRM, so we can see which email recipients have engaged significantly.


Ask the experts

Still aren’t confident in spotting and suppressing bot activity? Our customers have access to our in-house deliverability experts. We can investigate your data, and block IP addresses or User Agents as appropriate. Then proven bots will not be included in your results, only genuine human interactions.

Bots are not your enemy!

It is important to remember that bots are not working against you deliberately! They are just one more thing to take into consideration as you build your emails. Now that you know the signs, you can become an expert bot-spotter. Or better still, start using GatorMail and know that your results are all human.

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