Bots, or programs built to do automated tasks, encompass an enormous amount of online activity and by some estimates are responsible for more than half of total web traffic! There are many useful actions that bots take on our behalf, but they can also be used for malicious purposes such as impersonating humans for click-fraud and carrying out distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks.
Marketing automation providers, like Sugar Market, had been largely unscathed by bot activity, but over the past year we’ve noticed a spike in email click metrics and unusual data associated with them, such as a high number of link clicks immediately when the email is delivered (and sometimes even before the email registers as being opened), or a high number of clicks coming from a singular account or domain.
The implications of bot activity can be significant – one being a lack of visibility into the accuracy of your marketing metrics. Not only have you been possibly reporting higher click-through metrics, but there is a larger impact on your scoring, nurture campaigns (automation being triggered based on false events) and reporting.
Before we can address this issue, it is important to take a step back and understand why bots are only now affecting email activity.
Bot activity in email is typically security software designed to identify and prevent links to malware or phishing attacks. The security software will open the email and engage with the corresponding links, following them through the redirect and examining it for signs of malicious intent.
These security filters are more common in industries that collect highly personal information, such as healthcare or finance, making the impact of bot activity more significant in B2B marketing compared to B2C marketing.
So, what did Sugar do about it?
For us, identifying bots and separating them from legitimate human engagement has been a top priority over the last few release cycles. Today, we’re proud to announce a redesign for email reporting that identifies and separates legitimate email engagement from that generated by bots. This change is being made so that as marketers, you have more clarity and insight into your results.
We built Sugar Market to help increase engagement and boost quality leads, and by filtering out this bot activity you’ll have better insight into which marketing programs are most effective, improve campaign ROI, and drive growth for your business.