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In the realm of email marketing, a rapidly evolving landscape marked by ever-changing algorithms and consumer behaviors, email security bots have emerged as both a boon and a bane.

In this article, we will delve into what email security bots are, what they do, their effects on email open and click rates, and why addressing them is crucial. We will also shed light on how Kulea.ma, our award-winning email marketing solution, has proactively taken steps to identify and neutralize bot activity for the benefit of our users.

What Are Email Security Bots and What Do They Do?

Email security bots, often referred to as email scanners or “those damned bots”, are automated tools designed to analyze email content, attachments, and links to identify potential security threats such as phishing attempts, malware, or spam. These bots act as a layer of protection to ensure users receive safe and secure emails. While they are essential for maintaining email security, their scanning activity can inadvertently affect email marketing metrics.

How Email Security Bots Influence Email Open and Click Rates

Email security bots play a significant role in email open and click rates. When an email is sent, these bots automatically scan the email content and links, registering opens and clicks in the process. This leads to inflated open and click rates, making it challenging for email marketers to accurately gauge real engagement. Consequently, this can distort analytics, misrepresent campaign performance, and impact decision-making processes.

The Unintentional Annoyance: Why Email Security Bots Aren’t Deliberately Malicious

It’s important to note that email security bots are not malicious entities intentionally trying to distort email metrics. They serve a crucial purpose in safeguarding users against potential security threats. However, their automated actions inadvertently skew email performance metrics, causing frustration and inconvenience for email marketers.

The Rise of Email Security Bot Activity: Gmail Pre-fetch and Apple’s Mail Privacy Protection

In recent years, the prevalence of email security bot activity has surged, primarily due to advancements in email platforms like Gmail Pre-fetch and Apple’s Mail Privacy Protection. These features proactively load and cache images in emails to enhance user experience and privacy, inadvertently registering false opens. This shift in behavior has posed a new challenge for email marketers, necessitating adaptations to accurately interpret engagement metrics.

Identifying Bots: Leveraging IP Addresses and User Agents

Email security bots can be identified and isolated through analysis of IP addresses and user agents. IP addresses associated with bot activity often display unusual patterns, such as high-frequency visits or a lack of other typical interactions. Additionally, examining user agents can reveal inconsistencies in the type of device or browser, providing further clues to distinguish bots from genuine user engagement.

Kulea’s Proactive Approach to Combatting Bot Activity

At Kulea.ma, we understand the importance of mitigating the impact of email security bots on email marketing campaigns. Here are the steps we’ve taken to identify and neutralize bot activity:

Enhanced Data Exports and API Integration: We’ve empowered our users by incorporating IP addresses and user agents into our behavior exports and API. This enables our users to efficiently identify suspicious bot-related activities.

Flagging Suspicious Events and Bot Toggle: Within a contact’s event timeline, we’ve implemented a system to flag suspicious events, giving users the ability to filter out such activities using our intuitive bot toggle.

Upgraded Bot Filtering: Our bot filtering mechanisms have been upgraded to detect bot activity based on specific behaviors, such as:

concurrent open and click events
– multiple clicks within a short timeframe
– engagement with predefined “bot bait” links.

Any events that we identify using our filters will be automatically excluded from your campaign reports and automated journey triggers.  Please note, this WILL result in lower open and click through rates, but we always believe it’s better to be open about bot activity, rather than trying to fudge the numbers

Continual Vigilance: Weekly Activity Reviews and Bot Filter Updates

To stay ahead of evolving bot strategies, we diligently review activity on a weekly basis. Our dedicated team assesses new IP and user agent pairings, ensuring that our bot filters remain updated and effective in identifying and neutralising bots.

Your Input Matters: Reporting Unidentified Bots

We appreciate your vigilance and encourage our customers to report any unidentified bots to their respective account managers. Your proactive involvement allows us to swiftly address and include new bot patterns in our ongoing updates.  Bot busting will always be a work in progress as new bots are released, and new IP and user agent pairings are identified, but we’re working hard behind the schenes to stay on top of the problem.

Final thoughts

In conclusion, while email security bots play a vital role in protecting users from potential threats, their influence on email marketing metrics cannot be ignored. At Kulea.ma, we remain committed to staying at the forefront of these advancements, continuously adapting and enhancing our tools to ensure a seamless and accurate email marketing experience for our valued users.

Should you have any further inquiries or concerns regarding email security bots or our efforts to combat them, feel free to reach out. We are here to assist you in every step of your email marketing journey.

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