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CTR, CTOR, Or Both? What You Must Be Tracking And Why

Email Click-Through Rate

Email metrics have been around for a while now. They help marketers in many ways, primarily with streamlining their email marketing strategy and optimizing the leads funnel. By parsing the right kind of data, you can peg down how subscribers are reacting to your emails. You can also know if you’re connecting with the right groups of audience or customers, so you can develop future campaigns optimally and identify high-potential focus groups. 

The metrics also help assess if you’re speaking your customers’ language and identify what kinds of content they are looking for. By tracking the right metrics on your emails, you can compare your current path with older campaigns to get a hawkeye view of the improvements made and to course-correct, if need be.

Two important metrics that have been developed in recent years that help you do all of this are ‘Click-through rate’ (CTR) and ‘Click-to-open rate’ (CTOR).

Let us now look at how these two metrics are calculated, how they differ from one another, and which one you should be tracking.

What Is CTR?

This metric essentially indicates how many of those customers who received your email clicked on its content. In other words, the CTR or click rate is a percentage that shows you the number of successfully delivered emails that recorded at least 1 click for their CTA. This single number, therefore, shows two things at once — how many subscribers opened your email and how many clicked through on the CTA link(s) embedded in it. It is influenced by, among other factors:

The formula for calculating the CTR for an email is given by:

The number of people who have clicked on your CTA or a link / The number of people who have received your email (multiplied by 100 for a percent)

The CTR is typically automatically tracked after an email is sent out. It can be viewed along with other metrics on a single dashboard of your ESP software, presented as an infographic. Alternatively, you can also view this number on a ‘Click map’, which is very helpful when you have chosen to have more than one CTA. It shows how the different links in the email have performed and highlights those that have garnered more attention.

Why Is CTR Important?

The CTR is particularly important to measure the overall performance of an individual email marketing campaign and to compare the success of different campaigns over a period.

The CTR scores over certain other metrics by zoning in on the actual efficacy and optimization of an email. The ‘open rate’, for instance, only shows the percentage of people opening/checking the emails sent as part of a campaign. It indicates the instances of opening the mail and not any further actions taken. So, you are left in the dark about the recipient’s actual response to the email itself.

(Note: All that said, you need to focus on the open rate number, too, as this is significant among the baseline email metrics. You can improve your open rate by incorporating catchy subject lines, augmenting their clickability with preheader text, and sanitizing your email list at regular intervals. On average, an email open rate that ranges between 15% and 20% is considered good.) 

By tracking the CTR of your email campaigns constantly, you can:

  1. Assess Brand Engagement: You can monitor the traction that your brand is getting, specifically through its email marketing campaigns. A higher CTR and engagement among new / non-active readers might point to an expanding audience and more eyeballs for the brand.
  1. Identify Email Fatigue: Email fatigue or disengagement would mean the opposite of high brand engagement. A low CTR, particularly among typically active and engaged subscriber lists, might need you to restructure your email campaigns and optimize the flow / drip and its timing, so your audience does not feel inundated or overwhelmed.
  1. Fix Optimum Link Count: In most cases, you have to repeat your CTA to ensure the reader takes the required action and to achieve a high CTR. You can vary the wordings or place different CTAs for multi-pronged campaigns. The link count would depend on the desired actions and the email’s length. A click map can help you identify link placements that work better. Just make sure your CTAs are straightforward and address the audience’s pain points.
  1. Focus On Engaged Readers: By segmenting your subscriber lists and tracking your CTR among these different groups, you can identify those customers who are more engaged with your email campaigns. This will help you in retargeting by sending out certain emails again to ensure your active readers do not miss them. It will also help you enhance your personalization efforts. You can also incorporate whitelisting information in your emails to keep them out of the target recipients’ spam.
  1. Improve Content: The CTR, particularly as juxtaposed against other primary email metrics, can help you constantly test and improve your content. It can guide you on the wording, the tone, the kind of CTA buttons that work, and even the specific media types that are better performing. A higher CTR is achieved by simplifying and streamlining both text and images. You also have to get the design completely right to ensure readers don’t simply skip and assign your emails to spam filters. Every email has to look professional and be formatted properly, optimized for various devices, and, more importantly, be responsive for easy viewing.

What Is A Good CTR? 

The CTR for email marketing campaigns is influenced by several factors. Primarily, the CTR depends on the industry in which you’re functioning, the individual campaign, and the specific goal or action to be taken that you have designed the CTA for. 

A low CTR may point to two things — either customers weren’t persuaded to open your email at all, or they weren’t convinced sufficiently by its content to click through to your landing page, website, or any other action, as the case may be.

To easily identify which of these situations you’re dealing with, you need to overlay the CTR of an email with the CTOR.

What Is CTOR?

The CTOR of an email, unlike the CTR, is calculated against the number of customers who have opened it as opposed to simply those who have received the email. In any instance, you can compute the CTOR by using this equation:

Number of clicks / Number of opens (multiplied by 100 for a percent)

Why Is CTOR Important?

The CTOR is different from other email metrics as it isolates the reader’s reaction to the subject line, the ‘from’ field, the timing of the email, and other related elements of a typical email campaign. It directly speaks to the content of the email and better reflects its efficacy in engaging the reader and getting them to take the desired action by clicking through.

To begin with, you have to keep in mind the baseline CTOR depending on the email marketing campaign and avoid having generic benchmarks. For instance, a campaign with highly personalized offers targeted at repeat customers will always have a higher CTOR.

As with any other email metric, it’s important to compare your performance against the industry average. Check out these benchmarks for 2021 as studied and reported by Campaign Monitor.

By tracking the CTOR, you can address these elements of an email campaign:

Which Should You Focus On: CTR Or CTOR?

We would say, definitely both. While the CTR also points to the success of certain peripheral elements of an email, such as the subject line, the CTOR is great at gauging precisely how the content of your email was received by the recipient. As stated earlier, the CTR and CTOR can vary widely depending on the purpose of the individual campaign. To optimize both these numbers in a balanced way, you simply have to ensure your email list is segmented such that all your campaigns are highly fine-tuned and served to the appropriate subscriber groups.

Wrapping Up

In this day and age, when customer preferences are changing continuously and constantly, every marketer needs to keep an overview of every possible primary email metric. While tracking them is one thing, acting on the data mined is the second and more important step. Overall, by maintaining and amplifying the brand voice, A/B testing and tweaking at every turn, and offering strong incentives to your subscribers, you can always work on improving your rates, whether it’s CTR or CTOR.
Looking for professional support to track your email metrics and manage and optimize your campaigns? Hire a certified campaign manager.

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