Deliverability Dispatch by Alyssa Dulin

What's up with automatic clicks?

published3 months ago
4 min read

Deliverability Dispatch #003

A weekly newsletter to help you reach your audience.

Today's newsletter is inspired by a reply I received from a lovely subscriber (thank you!). Here's what she said:

Hi Alyssa! Question for you. I know that some email programs automatically mark emails as opened. But does this happen with clicks too?
I just sent a newsletter and immediately there were over 1,000 clicks... seemed strange since I didn't even have that many opens in the same amount of time. When I checked what the clicks were I noticed several of the links had exactly 203 clickers. Do some programs also mark all hyperlinks as "clicked"?

Let's talk about automatic clicks

In light of the recent-ish changes Apple made to how they load image pixels, automatic opens have been getting a lot of attention. I certainly understand why! However, automated clicks don't get quite the same attention, but they can be equally frustrating.

Have you ever sent an email to your list and noticed a large number of clicks happen right after the message is delivered? Or maybe you've noticed that some subscribers click every single link in your email? These are signs of automatic clicks that are not happening by humans but instead are happening by bots.

Why do bot clicks happen?

You might have subscribers on your list who are using strict spam filters like Barracuda. These subscribers will have custom domains (like instead of but not all subscribers with custom domains are using strict filters that check links.

For the subscribers who do have these strict filters, the filters will often open all of the links in the message to scan them for safety.

How can I tell which subscribers are automatically clicking links?

The best way to tell if a subscriber's spam filter is auto-clicking links is by adding a hidden URL somewhere in your message. For example, you could add a URL to a "." or " " within your message that can't be easily identified by a human. Then, in your reporting, whichever subscribers clicked the hidden link are very likely to have bot clicks enabled.

How can I prevent automatic clicks?

While there's no way to completely prevent them, there are some steps that can help you reduce bot clicks:

  1. Only use HTTPS links in your email (not HTTP).
  2. Be aware of your content. Avoid aggressively promotional language.
  3. Keep your sender reputation healthy. This is a complex topic for another day but you can start by reading this blog post.
  4. Avoid typing out full URLs. If you're using an email provider (like ConvertKit, Mailchimp, etc.), all of your links are modified to use your email provider's domain, then re-route to the destination you chose. This allows your email provider to track clicks for you. So, if you display a full URL into the content of your message (like, mailbox providers see that there's a mismatch between the URL you typed out and the place the link is actually going, like "". This looks suspicious to the receiver's spam filter. Instead, add links to buttons or text like this.
  5. Don't use link shorteners like These services are often exploited by spammers. The reputation of the URLs you include in your message impact the deliverability of your emails, so it's best not to include link shorteners which are more likely to have a poor reputation.

I hope this was helpful! Have a question you'd like me to cover? Reply and let me know! I'd love to hear from you.