Did you ever watch the movie I Robot with Will Smith?
It’s the kind of movie which appeals to me. I love a good science fiction, and if it’s got some robots and artificial intelligence in it, even better.
With a production cost of $120,000,000 it should have been pretty good.
But production costs aren’t always an indicator of quality.
The last Pirates Of The Caribbean movie cost $240,000,000 to make, and an hour in I was dozing off and literally nothing had happened!
It’s reported that Johnny Depp earned $90,000,000 for his role in the movie.
Which is kinda obscene, but hey… if someone offered me that much to act in a film, I’m sure I wouldn’t say no!
But going back to robots, have you ever heard of spambots?
If you haven’t then you’ll be amongst the majority of marketers.
A lot of people don’t know they exist or aren’t sure what they actually are.
But they do exist, and…
…they’re going to spoil your emailing reputation and stats.
I noticed I had some in my newsletters last week when the click rates jumped through the roof.
Of course, I quietly hoped it was because you loved my newsletters so much that you were repeatedly clicking on every link I gave to get more of it!
Alas, it wasn’t the case.
It was a serious case of email bot infestation.
These email addresses work their way onto your mailing lists and open every single email you have, and click on every single link in your emails.
The result is stats that look completely unrealistic.
For example, you may get something like this:
This was on a small mail out I did last week to just a few hundred people.
A 33% click through rate is possible, but historically this list has nearer 10%, so when numbers like this suddenly appear it makes me suspicious.
Generally speaking, if something seems too good to be true, it’s because it’s too good to be true.
I went into the email stats and took a look at who was clicking on the links, and sure enough there were email addresses like this:
The first thing to note, is that this is the click stats for just one link in the email, my Twitter profile.
That in itself is a bit odd, why would anyone click 12 times on my Twitter profile, unlikely but possible.
However, looking at the email address you can see that it’s clearly not a valid email.
I would guess there’s no such domain as gmqil.com.
But, just in case, visiting the webpage brings up this:
Clearly a junk site, and clearly a bogus email address.
If you find one email like that, the chances are there are more.
Quickly running through the click stats for a few campaigns revealed that there were a number of email addresses doing the same thing.
Every email I sent saw more spambot clicking taking place.
Yup, they’re pretty clever, they don’t all just hit at once, they do it over a period of time.
Why do people use these spambots?
Because the spammers are trying to find weaknesses in your emailing setup and website to send spam through your services.
Assholes I know!
So, let’s assume you’re like me and find some spambots on your mailing list. How do you get rid of them?
If you only have a handful then you can manually delete them and blacklist them.
Then make sure you go and check your optin forms, maybe add a confirmation email, or another step to try and weed them out.
Putting a hidden field in the form, which if filled in is segmenting off your mailing list and you can manually go and blacklist them periodically is another way to catch the bots.
Alternatively, you could also use a paid service like ZeroBounce.
But if you have an infestation of them, it can be much harder.
Once upon a time it was easy enough, you sent out an email with a hidden link, just a white full stop, which auto-unsubscribed anybody who clicked on it.
As it wasn’t visible, it was only the spambots that were going to click on it.
Simple and effective.
Unfortunately, as is the way with hackers, they got smarter, and managed to make sure their bots detect these blank links.
Now there’s only two ways I know of to get rid of them.
The paid way is to use a service like ZeroBounce, but being totally honest, none of these list cleaning services are 100% accurate.
I prefer a more manual way, which is just as fast and completely free.
First of all export all clickers from the last few emails you sent, and import these leads into a new mailing list.
Give the mailing list a name like SpamBot Check, so you know what it’s for.
You’re only going to use it once, you can delete it when you’re finished.
Now create a new email broadcast, and write something like this:
So it turns out I’ve had some despicable spammers trying to target this awesome newsletter.
As one of my most valued readers, I wanted to let you know that I’m going through a process of removing them.
To continue getting my emails, PLEASE DO NOT CLICK ON ANY LINKS IN THIS EMAIL.
You see the spambots will click the link in this email, and they will be removed to make sure you still receive the best newsletter possible.
Thanks for your help against the spammers.
All the best,
A nice and simple email that nobody will mind receiving.
Make sure you link the capital letters to an auto-unsubscribe form. If your email provider doesn’t allow that, then link to some random page that’s not on your website, it could just be google.com, it doesn’t matter where.
Send out your email and wait twenty four to forty eight hours.
During this time keep an eye on your email stats, you’re looking for the click and open counts to stop increasing, when they look like they’ve come to a stand still it’s time to get rid of the spambots!
Go into your email stats and pull up a list of every single email address that clicked a link in your email.
Unsubscribe them all immediately from all your mailing lists.
Then import them into the Global Blacklist for your mailer. If you’re not sure how to do that, contact your mailer’s support desk and find out.
This will mean that even if they join your mailing list again, they’ll automatically be blacklisted and removed from every email you send.
If you find yourself getting spambots repeatedly then you’re going to need to either put some kind of captcha on your optin page, or use a service like ZeroBounce to verify the emails before they’re added to your email list.
However, 99% of the time simply doing the process above will stop the issue.
See you tomorrow,
The Online Hustle
P.S. If you want to become a full member of The Online Hustle and get an email every day Tuesday-Friday, you can join here for just a fiver:
P.P.S. If you’re buying lists (which is never a good idea) you’re going to more susceptible to picking up spambots!