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Are your email clicks fake or real? Learn about NHI (Non-Human interactions)




Email clicks are one the most important email engagement data points used by marketers to analyse the performance of email marketing campaigns. In combination with the number of opens (CTOR, click- through open rate) and emails sent (CTR, click- through rate), you can understand how subscribers are engaging with the content of your emails. However, keeping in mind that Apple’s Mail Privacy Protection has impacted your ability to track opens reliably, email clicks and call to actions are your best indicator and should be your priority focus amongst other data points.


The rule of success seems simple: the higher your click-through rate is, the better your email performance is which indicates that subscribers are clicking on your emails. But is it really that simple?


You might have come across with email campaigns that have an utterly high click-through rate when compared to the number of subscribers you have sent an email to. For example, you send an email to 10,000 subscribers and you see a click-through rate of 150% or even 700%. Sounds familiar? If the discrepancy is not caused by a tracking log/data issue, it is likely that those clicks that you are seeing are not real human clicks but what is commonly known in the industry by Non-Human Interactions (NHI).


What are Non-Human Interactions (NHI)?

Non-Human Interactions are clicks that occur during security scans as part of ISP’s antivirus or security software checks. As the system follow the links in an email, it visits the target website and analyses the content, which affects website analytics along the way. They result in a “click” or an “open” being recorded for the email campaign. As the goal of these security scans is to catch URLs pointing to dangerous or malicious content like websites that host malware or phishing pages, most agents and ISPs will work to mask detection to ensure filters are not circumvented. They are also more likely to have an impact on B2B domains (20%-80%) than B2C domains (10%) because B2B are more likely to have enterprise level anti-spam software which is stricter when checking inbound mail.


How NHI can impact your business?

As a marketer, you rely on click metrics to accurately plan your marketing plans and campaigns and not having accurate data can reduce ROI and return on advertising spend, because metrics are no longer reliable enough to drive business decisions.  


Follow Deliverability Best Practices

Although there is nothing you can do to prevent Non-Human Interactions from happening, we recommend you follow deliverability best practices to minimise the risk of hitting them.


  1. Maintain a good IP and domain reputation.

Sender reputation plays a significant role in the amount of NHI. Lack of list hygiene and subscriber engagement will negatively impact your reputation. Senders with low or bad reputation will be kept under the spot by ISPs and security scans so they will likely have a higher number of Non-Human Interactions on their emails. Work with your Adobe Deliverability Consultant or start by reading our Deliverabity best practice guide to understand how you can leverage and improve your deliverability email practices.


  1. Ensure your HTML uses UTF-8 Encoding.

Some spam filters will flag emails with character encoding issues as suspicious. Ensuring all special characters and trademarks on your email content are encoded will reduce the likelihood of your emails being severely scanned or categorised as a Spam.


  1. Use HTTPS instead of HTTP.

Emails which contain non-secure tracking links appear to be disproportionately targeted in comparison with those who are secure. Not having HTTPS can also result on a worst subscriber experience as the person who receives the email will get a warning message saying that the website, they are about to visit is non-secure. 


  1. Craft and monitor your email content.

Not only links are important, but the rest of your email content will also play a role on NHI interactions too. Heavy lead image content is likely to be riskier so make sure that the ration of text is always bigger than the ratio of images. Your HTML size should also be less than 102k to avoid clipping and potential spam filtering so make sure you are respecting this threshold.