Shadow Engagement and Roboclicks: Are Your Metrics Accurate?

Running an email marketing campaign requires strategists to pay close attention to key metrics and performance indicators, especially when experimenting with a unique approach or a new product line. But when crunching these numbers to uncover useful direction and feedback, marketers may be misled by some of the deceptive forces working underneath the surface, obscuring the truth of their email performance. Bots and the roboclicks they perpetuate can diminish the value of these insights, sending strategists astray.

“Bots and the roboclicks they perpetuate can diminish the value of metrics insights.”

It’s important that today’s marketing leaders are able to identify the factors that may lead them down the wrong strategic path when utilizing campaign data, and employ methods that deliver a more accurate representation of reality. Here are some of the most commonly cited bot risks impacting email campaign efforts, and a few strategies to help set marketers on the right track.

1. The truth about gross opens: It may appear on the surface that the rate of opened email messages would indicate a thriving marketing campaign, but with closer examination, analysts often discover that this number does not necessarily reflect the success of the initiative. In fact, the “gross open” rate of a campaign could be a mirage that may throw a wrench in the marketing machine, as this metric includes a range of unsubstantiated data. Marketers must be wary of these pitfalls and ensure that they look under the hood to confirm their open rates are accurate and informative.

unnamed (2)As a blog article from WebMarketingToday pointed out, the average open rate for an email marketing campaign hovers between 20 and 30 percent. With a closer look, however, analysts may discover that the majority of curious readers don’t actually follow through on their interests with any clicks. On the other hand, it may be that bots and other automated processes are instantly opening the emails, scanning them for viruses and sending messages directly to the junk folder. With these scenarios in mind, marketers should proceed with caution when looking into metrics.

2. The lowdown on gross clicks: Ensuring the validity of an email open rate is a challenge in itself, but clarifying click rates can be even more difficult, as this adds another layer of mystery and complexity to the situation. Clickthrough rate may be the most quintessential metric out there, but experienced marketers know that these statistics can be misleading when deceiving factors are at play. After all, unidentified bots can alter the perception of a campaign from an analyst’s perspectives and lead to miscalculations on future efforts.

Marketers should keep their eyes peeled for a few telltale signs that click rates are not all that they seem. For instance, if every link featured in a message is clicked but no further action is taken, this could be a sign that roboclicks are working behind the scenes. Additionally, if emails are opened and clicked through instantly after being sent, it’s likely that a bot is rummaging through the inbox and giving strategists the wrong idea. Recognizing these patterns of deception is key to gaining a clear understanding of the campaign’s true effectiveness and value.

3. The importance of list hygiene: If a marketing team is able to clear up the muddled metrics resulting from bot activity, its next step is to refine its databases in an effort to reach legitimate leads and contacts. This means following the best practices of list hygiene, which, according to UnBounce, includes measures such as improving segmentation, solidifying referral programs and incorporating stronger automation functions to avoid dreaded bots and user agents. With these tactics in mind, marketers can overcome the hazards of roboclicks and get a grip on authentic metrics.