The digital world has gained increased prominence since the events of 2020, and the StoneShot Marketing Platform certainly saw a marked increase in email volume sent this year. However, we’ve also noticed that more inboxes have scanners that click every link in an email to test that the source doesn’t contain any malicious viruses (yeah, we’ve had enough of these lately) or other forms of malware. Overall, this is a good move for email security as it saves your IT guy a lot of headache. The downside? It inflates engagement statistics for digital marketers making your data less credible.

Over the past 4 years, we’ve countered this by keeping a manual block list of IPs that we do not record clicks for. However, in keeping with the spirit of automating things, which is set to be a trend for 2021, we are gearing up for automated IP suppression.

In the first iteration, we included a hidden link in the email template. Hidden you say? Only to the naked human eye. Therefore, if the link is clicked, we can assume it is clicked by a scanner.

To avoid inflating our email statistics, we suppress that click and any other clicks that occur at the same time on other links within the email. We also log the Useragent Agent String and IP address that are associated with the click on the hidden link to add to our block list. This enables us to be more precise when identifying link scanners in the future by using a combination of these details.

Since the first iteration, we’ve identified a few more patterns that are typical of link scanners based on recent activity so we’ve taken these into account when classing something as link scanner activity. An example is identical user agent strings accessing within a very short time period. Secondly, we have slightly tweaked the timings when determining if a click is from a scanner or not based on the data that we are logging.

This is all happening in the background and will be available to all StoneShot Marketing Platform users at no extra cost, so all you have to do is sit back, relax and enjoy accurate stats.

[ Originally published on February 16, 2021 ]