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Bot Clicks: How They Affect Your Email Campaigns

May 31, 2023

Email marketing remains a powerful tool for engaging with audiences and driving conversions. However, high click rates in emails can sometimes be misleading due to the presence of bots and the impact of filters. Bot clicks result automated programs that mimic human behavior. Designed to safeguard users, bots can both influence click rates.

So, having high clicks is not an indication that something was wrong with the send. Rather, some aggressive email filters click links in emails to check for malicious activity before they’ll deliver them to the recipients. Email filters that check links are becoming more common and affect all send performances, regardless of the ESP (Email Service Platform like critical impact) sending the email.

Due to the nature of email, it’s difficult for ESPs to determine if a link was clicked by an email filter or by your intended recipient. Email filters do not want to be identified – or it would be easy for unscrupulous senders to link to different content when they detected a spam filter “click”.


Email filters include link scanners and click bots, which are network security devices deployed by companies to scan and then block links to websites they deem to be potential threats, such as those that could host malware or phishing sites. These devices perform their duties by clicking on every link within an email before the email is delivered to a recipient’s email server.


Sometimes a particular part of the message content can cause the clicks to be tested more frequently as well. We’ve seen the click rate go up temporarily and then go back down after a couple weeks in some client accounts – we don’t have any control over this type of behavior.

Every organization is different, so it’s good to note that .org, .edu, and other organizational domains are known to have aggressive spam filters that could trigger inflated clicks, which can lead to inflated clicks in some sends, but not others.


Critical Impact follows the industry standard for click and open tracking, so any click that occurs is tracked and visible in your reporting by default. Why do we do this? This is an industry standard. Keeping click bots in reporting keeps your click rates from becoming artificially low, this click bot activity helps delivery because these security filters allow your message to get the okay to be delivered.


Spotting Bots

A bot is code. So no you can’t spot it like the Bay-breasted Warbler, but you can spot results from bots affecting your data. Here are a few clues:

  • »  Too many clicks from the same person or IP
  • »  100% clicks or duplicate clicks from the same IP address
  • »  Visits to your landing page with 0 seconds spent on the page
  • »  Opens or clicks seconds after the email was delivered


Bot Click Effects on Campaigns

Yes, bot clicks look scary, but hey, everyone gets them, so just relax and be aware of how you look at your data. Some of the outcomes of of bots on email campaigns are:

  • »  Disrupted trigger-based marketing automation
  • »  Inaccurate A/B testing results
  • »  Unintentional opt-outs or unsubscribes
  • »  Overestimated results on click-through rates, open rates, or page visits
  • »  Incorrect email metrics


Strategies to Uncover and Address High Bot Click Rates

Bot Clicks and Data

Above: Use the Email Tracking Report to uncover possible data skewing from bots.

To overcome the challenges posed by bots and filters, marketers can implement various strategies to identify, mitigate, and address high click rates in emails.

  • Create a dynamic suppression list to stop sending to inactive subscribers on your list (sends that are ignored increase bot activity as well as increase the likelihood of landing in spam)
  • Set up sender authentication for your sending domains. This makes you look like a more legitimate sender
  • Continuous Monitoring and Adjustment: regularly monitor click rates, analyze patterns, and adjust strategies accordingly
  • Stay updated on emerging bot tactics and filtering techniques to proactively adapt to evolving challenges and optimize email marketing campaigns
  • Run your list through a third-party email verification tool to validate real email addresses and maintain a clean list with only active, opted-in subscribers
  • Periodically hire a third-party list cleaning service to scrub your list and keep it up to date



High click rates in emails can be influenced by bots and filters, making it crucial for marketers to understand and address this issue. By comprehending the critical impact (pun intended) of bots on click rates and the influence of filters, marketers can implement strategies to mitigate their effects and obtain accurate campaign performance insights.

And, through the adoption of advanced analytics, vigilant monitoring, validation techniques, email authentication and continuous adjustment, you can measure genuine user engagement better – to make data-driven decisions in your email marketing efforts.

Until next time, keep those emails rolling!

– Jim

Jim Gibbs

Jim Gibbs, Senior Account Executive at Critical Impact

Jim Gibbs is Critical Impact’s Growth Channel team lead and has been selling and closing for a long time. Jim is known to be able to sell bananas to monkeys.

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