GatorMail Bot Detection Explained
Bots are complicated by design, which makes explaining how they work an even harder task.
So you'll be relieved to hear that this article does not explain how bots work!
Instead it explains how we detect bots in GatorMail, to give you a better idea of how we protect your email marketing efforts.
At Communigator we have two methods of bot detection, each with their own merits; Automatic Detection & Manual Detection.
Automatic detection involves us inserting a hidden link into your email! This is invisible to you and the recipients of your email campaigns as it is intended to act like a beacon, alerting us to bot activity quickly.
Manual detection means you contact us and we do the investigation for you. Our technical Team will look into your suspicions and give their opinion.
We MUST stress that whilst we can investigate bot activity for you, we can only give educated opinions on whether it is bot activity or not.
We can only inform, NOT GUARANTEE, on bot activity due to its random and unpredictable nature.
Automatic Detection Explained
When you create and design your email, we insert a hidden link into the body. This is added because bots tend to access every link they can find in an email to test if they can access them.
When a bot tries to access our hidden link they get captured.
Once captured we know the sources IP and UserAgent.
IP addresses are visible to you in your campaign click results export in Gator, so you will be able to recognise that there an IP is clicking on your links frequently, usually within seconds of each other.
The UserAgent and IP must be a perfect match for us to be able to block it's activity in future emails and campaigns. However, not all bots will access the hidden link in your email. This is due to bot technology advancing and becoming more intelligent.
This is why we have two methods of detection, so we can cover all angles.
Manual Detection Explained
As soon as you suspect bot activity may be affecting your campaign analysis email in to firstname.lastname@example.org or phone 01483 411 911.
The quicker you tell us, the quicker we can act!
Your ticket will be escalated to the Technical Team for investigation. Here we look at the opens and clicks on your campaign results. We look at these by exporting an excel file of results data from 'Campaign Results'.
We also look at this in the back end of the product where we can see the information in a table as so:
In the database we can see the IP addresses and timings of hits easily.
When trying to determine activity we look at:
- Are the clicks in quick succession of each other e.g. seconds or milliseconds?
- Is this for more than one link in the email?
- Do the IP's for such clicks match?
If there are multiple hits for more than one link, which occur in quick succession and have the same IP, then it is likely it is bot activity.
We also check some of our database tables dedicated to bot activity detection.
So what now?
What can we do?
Once we have given our informed opinion on bot activity in your campaign we present you with the option for us to suppress this activity.
This involves us blocking the IP and matching UserAgent which are put into tables within our database. This means that for any future campaigns the table is looked at, and any IP and UserAgent matches are left out of your clicks and opens in your campaign results.
But don't forget, we automatically filter out bots for you, so the manual method is only used if some bot activity slips through the net.