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Email Click-Through Rate: What Is CTR (and How to Improve It)

Your email click-through-rate (CTR) measures how many people who received your email clicked on at least one link. It's one of the most commonly talked-about email marketing metrics — but does it tell you the full story of your email performance?

How to measure your email CTR

To calculate your email CTR:

  1. Take the number of people that have clicked on a link in your email
  2. Divide that by the number of emails delivered
  3. Multiply that number by 100 to get a percentage
Voila! You have your email click-through rate.
If your email makes it into the inboxes of 100 people and 10 people click on a link within your email, you have a 10% click-through rate.

Why do we use the number of emails delivered rather than the number of emails sent?

Bounces. The enemy of email marketers everywhere.

In a perfect world, every email would have 100% deliverability. In reality, email marketers have to deal with hard bounces and soft bounces:

  • Hard bounces happen when the recipient's mail server rejects your email. This could be because the email address is invalid or the domain name doesn't exist.
  • Soft bounces mean there's a temporary problem with the email address or the recipient's email server. Even if you send your email to a valid email address, the message could bounce if the recipient's mailbox is full.
There are a lot of reasons for a high bounce rate, but the two most common are:

  1. Would-be subscribers are giving you fake email addresses
  2. You're not regularly cleaning your email list, so you have a bunch of unengaged contacts

What is the difference between CTR and CTOR?

CTOR (click-to-open rate) measures how many people who opened your email clicked on a link.

Unlike CTR, which measures clicks as a percentage of all subscribers, CTOR looks at clicks as a percentage of opens.

To calculate CTOR:

  • Take the number of people that have clicked on a link in your email
  • Divide that by the number of emails opened
  • Multiply that number by 100 to get a percentage

CTR vs. CTOR: Which one should you measure?

If you want to measure the performance of your email content, measure your click-to-open rate. CTOR doesn't take the effectiveness of your subject line into account.

Instead, your CTOR:

  • Focuses only on how well the content of your email convinces people to click on a link
  • Doesn't penalize you for unopened emails
  • Separates the strength of your email content from the impact of your email list hygiene, subject line, and other factors
If you want to gauge the performance of your subject line, measure your email open rate.

CTR can still work as a more general metric. It gives you a high-level view of how your emails perform. But for a more detailed (and actionable) analysis, focus on CTOR and open rate.

What is a good email click-through rate?

A good email click-through rate is anything above 3%. An average email CTR is 1-5%.

Because it only takes into account opened emails, your CTOR will naturally be higher than your CTR. Experts recommend aiming for a CTOR of 20-30% for promotional campaigns.

But before you start comparing stats, keep in mind that there's a ton of information out there about what is considered a good (or even average) CTR.

What we consider a good email CTR or CTOR varies based on:

  • Company size
  • Industry
  • Country
  • Type of email
  • List hygiene
  • And endless other factors…

Which industries have the highest CTOR?

Industries with the highest CTOR:

  • Media and publishing
  • Hobbies
  • Gambling
  • Games
  • Daily deals/e-coupons
Industries with the lowest CTOR:

  • Restaurant
  • Public relations
  • Construction
  • Real estate
  • Politics

Source: ActiveCampaign