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Why don’t the click-rates in my MAP match my PathFactory data?

What is happening?

  • Marketing Automation Platforms are reporting massive numbers of clicks that don’t correspond to actual engagement data collected by PathFactory.

Why is this happening?

  • Bots and malware roaming the web are interacting with and activating links, which is then recorded as Visitor Clicks by MAPs.
  • Firewalls and spam filters check links to ensure they’re not hiding anything malicious. However, this interaction with the links can also be recorded as Visitor Clicks by MAPs.

Should I be worried?

  • Nope! Your PathFactory platform is not malfunctioning. Your PathFactory data is not at risk (neither is your MAP data!). PathFactory was and still is accurately recording engagement data.

What should I do?

  • Ignore your MAP click-rates. Click-rates aren’t meaningful data to begin with, so it really doesn’t matter if you ignore them! PathFactory tracks how your visitors are actually engaging with your content, so you’re not missing out on any useful data.
  • If you really want to track click-rate anyways, you can apply logic rules within your MAP to filter out clicks which are almost certainly not real people. For example, exclude clicks on links from emails that haven’t been opened, as these are most likely spam filter clicks.

Want more information on click-rate discrepancies?

How MAP Tracks Clickthroughs:

Marketing Automation Platforms can not detect when an actual mouse-click occurs on a link. Instead, MAPs infer that a click-through has occurred by either adding a tracking parameter to the email link or briefly redirecting the visitor, almost unnoticeably, to a blank page that runs a script and records a click-through.

How PathFactory Tracks Engagement:

When a visitor lands on a PathFactory content asset, a PathFactory script runs. This script then triggers an API call which records a visit in our PathFactory analytics.

Once our scripts runs, and before the API call to record a visit is triggered, certain attributes related to the visit – such as browser User Agent, are examined to determine whether the visit was triggered by an actual visitor, a corporate spam filter, or a bot. Our platform will automatically filter out visits with attributes that explicitly state that a visit was generated by a corporate spam filter or a bot application.

Below are a few examples of User Agent attributes that point to a email spam filter or bot application:

Mozilla/5.0 (compatible; AhrefsBot/5.2; +http://ahrefs.com/robot/)

Mozilla/5.0 (compatible; YandexBot/3.0; +http://yandex.com/bots)

Mozilla/5.0 (compatible; bingbot/2.0; +http://www.bing.com/bingbot.htm)

Mozilla/5.0 (compatible; Baiduspider/2.0; +http://www.baidu.com/search/spider.html)

How The Discrepancy Between PathFactory and MAP Analytics Occurs:

Based on the explanation above, MAPs do not currently differentiate between visits that originated as a result of a software application- bots or corporate spam filters, or visits that originated as a result of an actual click/visit by a visitor.
Some of the common indicators to look for in an MAP when spam filters/bot click-throughs occur are the following:

  • Click-throughs for some recipients occur instantaneously, or almost immediately, after the email is sent or delivered to the recipient inbox.
  • Occasionally, you will notice that no email opens have been recorded when the click-throughs have occurred. This is a signal that the click-through was originated by a bot/spam filters as some of these applications do not trigger an email open when they examine the content of the email and the links in it.

MAP forums/knowledge base articles have mentioned this limitation in the accuracy of click-through reporting. Examples below:

“This does indeed happen – spam filters (like Barracuda) / bots / junk mail algorithms do indeed click on links in emails. Barracuda calls this “multilevel intent analysis”). The spam filter is looking for redirection or malware or something like that. There isn’t a whole ton that we marketers can do about it, though. Marketo filters and triggers are unable to determine if the email click is from the actual recipient or a link scanner, it can only see if the link was clicked at all.”

“My MailChimp report shows unusually high clicks
A spam filter may be clicking your links.
Some aggressive spam filters click links in emails to check for malicious activity before they’ll deliver them to the recipients. Unfortunately, there’s no way for us to see if a link has been clicked by a spam filter or your intended recipient, but if you see an unusually high number of clicks from a single domain, it’s likely to be a spam filter.”
MailChimp: Troubleshooting Click Tracking


Since PathFactory analytics accurately report visits based on actual engagement – and filter visits that are recorded by bots/spam filters, you should rely on PathFactory analytics to determine the actual number of visits that occurred in a content track.

Updated on April 13, 2023

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