How to deal with bots clicking links in your emails

Les robots augmentent le taux d'ouverture

An issue that you probably have heard about is the email bots that are clicking links in emails. They inflate Open Rates and Click-through Rates in the email performance reports. 

Moreover, their impact on nurture campaigns and your sender reputation score is relevant, giving a “false positive” as bots clicks might appear to be hot leads, but they are not. So to help avoid being harmed by them and get a real report about your email performance we are going to explain everything you need to know.

What are email bots and why they are available?

Security email bots are designed to protect users from getting spam in their inboxes. They check whether the email content is safe by clicking on all the links in the message.

Usually education, hospitals, and government sectors are more likely to have these bots because they tend to have a higher level of data security and more spam filters. If you send emails to these sectors you are likely to experience these issues. 

When you send an email campaign it is important to get real insights about the performance, without false positives, so let’s see how to detect them in the next section.

How to detect them?

First of all, no matter if you check once and did not find any security bot you should check regularly because you have never known when they start clicking on your links.

How can you determine if it’s a person or an email bot click? 

How to deal with them?

After confirming that there are bots interfering with your email marketing reports and performance, there are some practices that you should follow to reduce the consequences of bot activity.

Smart list

Using the method described above, using a tiny pixel image to identify the bots, you should remove them from your subscriber list. Then, with a smart list, you could separate those domains that have clicked in that link and other links of the email. So you can confirm with confidence that it is a spam bot

These smart lists could remove those who click in the invisible link or all the links of the email, and then, automatically add them again to its lists when they are not considered anymore as a spam bot due to the change in their behavior.

Comment faire face aux robots cliquant sur vos emails


Using your smart list, you should create a filter that doesn’t take into account all the emails excluded from the list. In this way, your reports will be reliable and real.

Bot clicks program

Design a program status for those bots who click on the hidden link to avoid counting them as engagement. The program status in your channels will identify those emails that clicked on the hidden link before being counted as clicks, allowing you to have real insight into your performance. 

Safe senders list

As your subscribers are the ones that have the security email bots to protect them from having spam in their inboxes, you should ask them to add you to their safe senders’ list

In this way, your emails will get through their spam filter and land in their inbox without any problem, because you will be a trusted contact to the Email Service Provider (ESP). 

Moreover, as you are in your subscriber’s safe senders’ list your content will be considered safe so the bots will stop checking them

Bot filtering

In February 2020, Hubspot launched a new tool for those who use their service. This tool detects the bots automatically when the bot filter is turned on for your account. If the bot activity filter is not on, here’s what you can do by following these steps

HubSpot is not the only website that offers a bot activity filter. Marketo identifies bots and if you activate the filter they would not be logged in to your email campaign performance.

Moreover, Pardot had developed a tool that ignores the clicks by bots in a way that it would not inflate your rates. Finally, Marketo has a tool, Smart Campaign, that filters the humans and the bots. This filter is called “clicked the link in the email » and you can activate it when you do marketing automation.

As you see, these companies filter bots (neither emails nor domains) based on their behavior. Obviously, it doesn’t ensure that all the bots are going to be excluded but the majority of them will be. 

To conclude, you should create a list of those domains that are using security email bots and start getting real insights about your email campaigns. 

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Click link scoring

Instead of having your scoring once a week, make it once per hour, or once per day. Then you could eliminate bots from being scored.

Unsubscriber list

As the bots will click on all the links of the email, they click on the “unsubscribe” link too. To avoid removing a contact from your list that you want to keep, give them two steps to opt-out. Firstly, the visible link in an email, and then ask if they really want to unsubscribe from your mailing list. 

In this way, you will ensure that it is a person who is unsubscribing and not a false click from a bot. 

If you still need help to exclude bots from harming your email deliverability, and negatively affecting the performance of your email campaigns, MailSoar is here to help you. Our team of experts is used to managing the ongoing deliverability of massive senders from all industries.

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