Contact Tracking Error: Contact details mixed up

gepot
Contributor

I recently reported this problem to Hubspot support, but felt it needed to be shared more widely.

 

We recently discovered that our contacts sometimes have their details mashed with another contact. 

 

After a long discussion with support we discovered that this issue arises when people click on tracked links in forwarded emails.  For example, if Joe gets a direct invite to a webinar then forwards it to Jane, Joe's contact details can be overwritten with Jane's should she also fill in a cookie-tracked form.

 

In our case the incidence rate was around 0.3% which at first sight doesn't seem high.  However, the issue here isn't so much quantity as it is quality.  It is embarrassing and potentially harmful to our business if our contact Joe is suddenly adressed as Jane.

 

There is currently no solution to this problem as Hubspot uses email-bound coded tracking to determine who clicked on links.  

 

Our current mitigation is to ensure that, internally, we don't forward emails to clients with invitations, but rather send them direct links to event pages.

 

The only way to determine the damage to your database is to export the email property history and manually compare all changed email addresses with current addresses.  Steps to do so are:

  1. Go to Contact Settings and search for the Email property
  2. Open the Email property and click the Export property history button
  3. Open the CSV file and work through contacts that indicate email changes

This is not a perfect solution.

 

I am happy to hear from anyone who had similar experiences, or from Hubspot on if this problem will be fixed.

7 Replies 7
roisinkirby
HubSpot Product Team

Hey @gepot, I've always found this user blog post an incredibly helpful resource when I've worked with customers in the past: https://blog.hubspot.com/customers/what-is-cookie-tracking

 

I hope this helpful to you too!

0 Upvotes
gepot
Contributor

Hi @roisinkirby,

Thanks for the article, I appreicate your efforts. 

 

Unfortunately this isn't what is happening here.  We sussed the problem out with support and can confirm that the issue resides with forwarded emails.

 

As a developer I have a solid undestanding of cookies and cookie tracking. Hubspot encodes tracking data in email links that is attached to email addresses.  Since cookies don't travel well via email, Hubspot relies on these encoded links to track links clicks.

 

Our issue arises when a link in a forwarded email is clicked.  This link encodes the original recipient's email address, and sets a new cookie with the assumption that it is a returning visitor.  However, the new recipient has full control over the original recipient's data on our system leading to overwrites as described above.

 

The issue here is that Hubspot's click tracking is an inadequate approach and not only opens its clients up to data integrity issues, but also to reputational risks.  Gosh, with GDPR looming ther emay even be legislative risks!

 

We sell super high end software products to large institutions.  Calling John by the name Mary is not going to help us.

 

One solution would be to always assume that a non-existent cookie implies a brand new visitor, then de-duplicating any records upon form submission and attributing any clicks links accordingly.  The platform knows that a) which coded link has been clicked, b) whether a cookie exists or not and c) wether a record exists in the database or not.

 

Just a thought.

 

G.

setheryb
Contributor

We're experiencing this same issue. Curious if there is any update or resolution to this? I've opened a support ticket in hopes of a resolution of some sort.

gepot
Contributor

Hi there,

We are managing this issue by exporting the history of the email field, then manually checking for suspicious changes.  Our salespeople then need to manually separate contacts.

 

email history export.JPGNot ideal by any stretch of imagination.  The alternative is to use the API endpoints in the workflows to manipulate data, but that is risky and requires some custom dev thinking.

GX_Software
Participant

We are experiencing exactly the same problem!!

 

contact details and timeline (!!!) get mixed up and it is not possible to fix it once it is mixed.

and it is very common that people forward emails with links to share downloads or event invitations. it is therefore a serious problem!!

 

Hubspot: will you fix this??

0 Upvotes
roisinkirby
HubSpot Product Team

Hi @GX_Software can you let me know if you've reviewed the blog post linked above r.e. how to correct these overwrites? HubSpot deduplicates contacts based on email address, there are no current plans to change this model, however if you turn of cookie tracking on forms you can avoid this happening in the future. 

0 Upvotes
tlm
Participant

I have this issue as well. I have had it previously with Pardot as well. There we did a customer solution with a piece of JS. The JS would clear the cookie/tracking when the email field was changed. That may be one solutions.

0 Upvotes