Is your Email Communications Provider lying to you?

internal communications strategy

Is your Email Communications Provider lying to you?

Microsoft Outlook has gone through many changes over the years, sticking faithfully to its principles when it comes to how it deals with HTML emails:

  • No images (unless downloaded or the from address is on a safe senders list)
  • No Videos
  • No control over fonts (if you lazily cut and paste from a word doc!)

In its latest versions of Office 365 we have been introduced to a new challenge, Safe Links.


Safe Link scanning

Safe Links is a feature in Defender for Office 365 that provides URL scanning and time-of-click verification in email messages and other locations.


In a nutshell – before your email is seen by the recipient, their outlook will “click” on every link to check it is safe.


“But hang on… We track clicks in our email marketing software?”

Yep, you do. Cold hard facts time, are you sat down?

Your email campaign reporting is lying to you. Thanks to Office 365 clicking every link on your email, it is falsely reporting high click rates.

I’m afraid the software you use will not know the difference between a safe link click (from now on known as a spambot!) or a genuine recipient click.

When is a click not a click?

Let’s look at what that means in a real campaign. This data was provided by a NewZapp customer who also has access to another provider (no names to spare blushes).

2 campaigns | 1 month apart | same sized database.

4,867 clicks in total – click to open rate 7.1%

Other Provider
64,999 clicks in total – click to open rate 63.4%


Unless the 2nd email was giving away free iPads, this data is wrong and they are recording spambot clicks.

Yes, massive (but wrong) click rates may get you a pat on the back, but when sales don’t go up in equal measure, awkward questions will need to be answered!


“It’s ok – my provider will sort it out”

This is what some of the big guns say on their support forums:

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.


So it’s a “not our problem” from MailChimp, what about Sendinblue?


What Are Phishing Filters and How Do They Work?
Phishing filters and anti-phishing toolbars are software that’s used to scan emails and websites for potentially malicious links and content.
Internet security vendors and internet browsers, such as Microsoft Internet 7.0, Opera, and Firefox, have built-in spam blockers and phishing filters.


Well they are still talking about Opera, so let’s give them 4 – 5 years to catch up 😊


“So what are NewZapp doing?”

We have been sending email campaigns for our customers for over 18 years and know how vital the reporting is. It has to be correct otherwise bad strategy decisions are made.

Our development team are using good old fashioned elbow grease on this one. They are going through customer report data with a fine tooth comb to detect spambot clicks and remove them from the reporting.

hard work

It is painstaking work – but we feel it is worth the effort to ensure our customers data is as accurate as it can be.

Does that mean the click rate we report are lower than other providers? Yes

It does means they are true.