Click Rates: The Truth to Soaring Email CTR and CTOR

Email click rates are one of the most sought after metrics when it comes to email marketing.

However, improving your CTR can be the difference between sale or no sale.

In this guide, we’ll discuss the fundamental reasoning behind tracking clicks, tactics we’ve seen improve click rates, and finally some real life examples of how we’ve helped our clients navigate the complicated role of an email click.

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Email Click Rates: An Overview

Before we get into how to improve the clicks across your email marketing communications, let’s have some real talk.

Why is it an important email metric to track and increase?

email click rates cta example

The act of a click is a very impactful measurement for marketers because it measures interest.

A click is an indication the recipient is perhaps more engaged than the rest.

Think about this in fishing terms…

You’ve set the bait by sending the initial email, the recipient has nibbled on the bait by opening the email…

By clicking they’ve taken the bite and it’s up to you to reel them in!

There are a number of click metrics email marketers measure.

We find the most important and impactful are:

  • Click through rate (CTR)
  • Click to open rate (CTOR)

I’m sure you’ve paused a second or more to ask yourself what is a good CTR or CTOR?

And, you’re not going to like this answer…

Average Email Click Rates by Industry

It depends on a number of variables such as your industry, your list size, and the types of emails you’re sending.

Here’s our latest industry email marketing benchmark report with email click rates:


industry email marketing benchmarks click rates by sector

We recommend our clients’ benchmark their own data over a period of a year to determine a good CTR and CTOR relative to their organization.

We also recommend if your email marketing contains many different personas (i.e. customers vs. potential customers) that each persona have their own click benchmarks.

Calculating Your Email Click Rates

Calculating the difference between CTR and CTOR is subtle, but can paint an entirely different picture for marketers.

For instance, a single email can yield a horrendous click through rate and a phenomenal click to open rate.

What this tells the marketer is he/she has a list problem.

Either the message didn’t resonate with the majority of the list or the list needs an overhaul or better segmentation.


industry email marketing benchmarks overall email benchmark data

We have a client who owns a dozen budget and high end hotels in Hawaii.

They have hundreds of thousands subscribers on their list and send weekly and monthly emails to these recipients with the latest resort updates and current deals.

Their average CTR is a 3 percent but their CTOR is 11 percent.

They hired us to improve their email marketing results and at the end of the day… sell more stuff.

So, after reviewing the data above, we knew we needed to take a look at their list and better identify segments that resonated with the emails being sent.

It was obvious those opening the emails found the information very valuable.

However, the majority of people on the list weren’t the least bit interested.

So, we implemented a Resend Strategy with the overarching goal of moving recipients towards conversion.

Conversion for this particular client is the booking of a hotel room.

Here’s how the resend strategy works:

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If a recipient clicks on a “Book Now” link but does not convert, an email is automatically triggered a day later asking the recipient to complete their order.

The results are remarkable.

The click through rate of the resend email averages 10.9 percent.

That’s a threefold lift from the previously blasted email.

The moral of this story is, by segmenting an engaged audience such as those who click, and then following up with relevant communications to this segment, you are guaranteed to make a sale.

Your email marketing strategy is unique to your business, but there are general tips every marketer should keep in mind when trying to improve click rates.

The Three Steps to Improve Email Clicks

There are three simple steps we preach to our clients when it comes to improving email click rates:

  • Know your audience.
  • Give them something worthy of a click.
  • Create triggered and drip campaign mailings.

Let’s explore each of these strategies in more detail:

Know Your Audience

Remember the Kenny Rodgers song, The Gambler?

“You got to know when to hold ‘em, know when to fold ‘em…”

This is an excellent comparison to email list hygiene best practices.

Successful email marketers don’t measure the success of their program by the volume of the list.

Rather, the engagement of their lists and are quick to purge unengaged subscribers.

Clicks are important indicators of engagement.

So, how do you get to know your audience and, therefore, increase clicks?

  • Conduct annual re-engagement campaigns to ask subscribers if they want to continue receiving messages from you.
  • Segment your email list into different groups. Example segments might include: buying behavior, demographics, gender, region, list engagement and so on.
  • Ask them! Most email service providers, like Delivra, provide the technology to create unique preference centers allowing subscribers to pick and choose the type of email communications they want to receive.

Give Them Something Worthy of a Click

If you’ve read this far, we’re assuming you’re already incorporating something for the recipients to click on in your emails (other than the Unsubscribe button!).

These are called email calls-to-action (CTAs).

restaurant email marketing example interactive animation example

Common call-to-actions might include: check out our latest inventory, buy this product, use this coupon, schedule a demo, download this new resource, etc.

The difference between good and great email marketing is creating content and deliverables that really add value to subscribers.

The only way to know what adds value is to know your audience see how this is coming full circle.

Here are some important email design tips to keep in mind when adding call-to-actions to your emails:

  1. Don’t hide your call to action behind an image since most email inboxes are defaulted to not display images. If you do add an image call-to-action, be sure to include alt text behind the creative which will render when the images are turned off.
  2. Limit the number of unique call-to-actions. At Delivra, we recommend a primary and secondary call-to-action, but hesitate to use more than two options in a single email.
  3. Provide multiple places within the email to click on the links you provide. For instance, for each call-to-action we build in at least two (2) places for the recipient to click. These places can be an image with an alt text or hyperlink within text.
  4. Over-communicate what you want the subscriber to do. Using active language like – click here, complete your order, fill out the form… don’t assume the subscriber is going to take any action unless you tell them exactly what you want them to do.
  5. Personalize the click. Knowing your audience helps you send resources you know will be of utmost interest. We’ll discuss how you can personalize the click when we discuss triggered mailings.

In the meantime, here are three great CTA examples to get you thinking about how to construct your next email:

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Create Triggered and Drip Campaign Mailings

A triggered message is an email sent based on a certain field(s) in your database.

Examples of triggered messages include: a birthday email, welcome message, renewal notice, etc.

The opportunities to create triggered messages are great, so long as you are diligent about collecting the data points that facilitate relevant triggers.

A drip email marketing campaign is a series of emails usually based on your initial trigger.

drip emails welcome drip marketing campaign

For example, our studies have shown a series of welcome emails sent over the course of a couple of weeks will outperform a single sent welcome email.

When you think about it, that makes a lot of sense.

Multiple emails in a series of relevant communications increase the probability of an open.

Triggering and creating drip campaigns have been proven to increase clicks.

Imagine… 14% lift in clicks… why wouldn’t you incorporate these tactics into your email marketing strategy?

Additional Tricks to Boost Click-through Rates

What’s the key to achieving an ideal click-through rate?

Well, the call-to-action has to be perfect, of course, but there are other factors that influence whether someone will be interested in clicking that button.

Check out these tips for boosting your email marketing click-through rates:

Adjust your frequency

Sending too few or too many emails has a big impact on your CTR. According to HubSpot, the “sweet spot” for email newsletter campaigns is between 16 and 30 targeted emails per month (sent to specific audience segments, not everyone on your mailing list). At that rate, median CTRs are 6.5%, which is two times greater than the CTR for companies sending only one or two campaign emails a month.

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Shorten and clarify subject lines

The journey to the click-through begins with an enticing subject line. It should be succinct, yet include specific details.

Here’s an example of a rambling subject line that will likely be cut off on mobile displays:

  • Get ready for the fall season: now through Saturday, all sweaters are on sale

Here’s a better version of that subject line:

  • 20% off all sweaters NOW

The second subject line uses “NOW” to create urgency – you don’t need to explain in the subject line when the sale ends; save that for the email body copy. And the shorter version also tells readers they can save 20%, which is more enticing than saying items are “on sale.”

Edit your copy

Think of the email copy as the path that leads subscribers to your CTA. If the path is too long, or unappealing, they probably won’t follow it.

There’s no standard length for a marketing email because their length may vary, depending on the purpose of your message. But if your goal is to get subscribers to click the CTA and take immediate action, follow the same rules you apply to subject lines – be brief, clear and detailed. Paragraphs should be no more than a few sentences long, with white space in between – no heavy blocks of text.

Punch-up your CTA

Your CTA needs to explain to subscribers exactly what happens when they click it. Examples include:

  • Register now
  • Keep reading
  • Get your free trial

The “free trial” tactic is a great way for software companies and service providers to get customers into the sales funnel. Ecommerce company Shopify grew its revenue 10-fold in three years, by offering a 14-day free trial.

With a few simple tweaks to your content and strategy, you could see an increase in click-through rates.

You’ve likely gathered by now that increasing the email click rates in your email marketing isn’t tied to one single thing.

It’s a combination of different tactics.

And, often times, you must test and adjust a few times before finding a combination that works for your organization.

If your email marketing or marketing automation efforts need more than some a higher CTR, it may be time to look at an upgrade. Delivra’s Email Marketing and Automation software is intuitive to use, giving marketers and small-to-medium business owners more leads and sales. Sign up to see a live demo of Delivra in action or you can watch our video tour. We’re here to help you succeed.


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