Click Rates: The Truth to Increasing Email CTR and CTOR

Email click rates are important metrics, especially when it comes to assessing the effectiveness of your marketing efforts.

Plus, CTR can mean the difference between a sale and an uninterested subscriber, so you want impressive rates.

In this guide, we’ll discuss not only the fundamental reason behind tracking clicks but we’ll also cover a few tactics that can improve click rates. You’ll see real-life examples of how we’ve helped our clients navigate the complicated role of an email click.

Email click rates: an overview

Before we dive into how to improve your clicks, let’s go over email click rates and why they’re important.

Why is CTR a vital email metric to track and increase?

The act of a click is a very impactful measurement for marketers because it measures interest. A click indicates engagement and interest in your communications.

It’s kind of like fishing; you’ve set the bait by sending the initial email, and the recipient has shown interest in the bait by opening your email.

By clicking on a link or call-to-action, they’ve taken the bite, and it’s up to you to reel them in!

When it comes to click-related metrics that email marketers must be familiar with, 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?

Let’s go through it.

Average email click rates by industry

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

Here’s Campaign Monitor’s industry email marketing benchmark report for 2019, featuring email click rates:

Increasing email CTR and CTOR is easy if you're keeping up with email benchmarks. This is an infographic from Campaign Monitor's benchmarks infographic.

Source: Campaign Monitor

When it comes to determining a personal “best” rate for our client’s, we often recommend marketers 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 has its own click benchmarks.

Once you’ve gotten a good analysis, you can then compare your averages with the industry averages above.

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 poor click-through rate and a phenomenal click-to-open rate.

What this tells the marketer is that they could have a list problem.

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

For instance, we have a client who owns several budget-friendly and high-end hotels in Hawaii.

They have hundreds of thousands of 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 3%, but their CTOR is 11%. They adopted our platform in order to improve their email marketing results and increase conversions.

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 that those opening the emails found the information very valuable. However, some people on the list weren’t as interested.

So, we implemented a resend strategy with the overarching goal of moving recipients towards conversion. Conversion for this particular client? Booking of a hotel room.

Here’s how the resend strategy works:

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

The results were remarkable.

The click-through rate of the resend email averages 10.9%.

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’re guaranteed to make a sale.

Need a visual to help you through this process? Take a look at this campaign by Flight Centre.

Start increasing email CTR and CTOR by providing clickable CTAs like this email from Flight Centre

Source: Campaign Monitor

This message has two very clear calls-to-action that readers could take:

  • Get more details on the current offer
  • Browse other great offers

If users are interested in the current offer, they get moved into one list, while the others are split between “other great offers” or those that simply weren’t interested and didn’t click through.

By segmenting your email list into these three different lists, you’ll be able to better serve their needs with future campaigns.

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 3 steps to improve email clicks

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

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

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

Know your audience

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.

Instead, they focus on the overall engagement of their lists and are quick to purge unengaged or inactive subscribers.

Clicks are essential 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.

Of those tips, we can’t stress enough the importance of the re-engagement campaign. Your team worked hard to build the list you have, so you don’t want to be too quick to purge inactive members from your list without giving them a chance to re-engage.

There are many ways to re-engage your subscribers including “wellness checks” to special incentives.

Send automated campaigns when increasing email CTR and CTOR, like this automated email example from Really Good Emails

Source: Really Good Emails

In this example from Animoto, they decide to do a wellness check and ask their inactive subscribers if they’re still interested in receiving their messages. If they aren’t, then the brand doesn’t pressure them to take any actions.

If they are, then they kindly ask them to update their email preferences to make sure that they get the content that is most relevant to their needs. If a subscriber doesn’t reply to your re-engagement efforts, then it is safe to say that they have lost interest in the relationship and you should go ahead and remove them from your subscriber’s list.

Provide 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 (CTAs).

Common call-to-actions might include:

  • Check out our latest inventory
  • Buy this product
  • Use this coupon
  • Schedule a demo
  • Download our new resource.

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.

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

  1. Don’t hide your call-to-action behind an image since many email inboxes are defaulted not to display images. If you do add an image call-to-action, be sure to include alt text behind the creative design which will render when the images are turned off.
  2. Limit the number of unique calls-to-action. 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, etc.
  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:

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, and more.

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.

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.

It makes 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.

And with a possible 14% lift in clicks, why wouldn’t you incorporate these tactics into your email marketing strategy?

A great way to get started with your welcome series is to go ahead and send a traditional, “Thanks for joining us message.” That shows your readers that you care and are glad to have them on board.

From there, you can send instructions on how they can get started using their account.

For example, Havenly goes ahead and walks new subscribers through the steps to use their services. Not only that, they keep it short, sweet and to the point, which ensures that readers don’t get lost in the process.

Welcome campaigns are a great way of increasing email CTR and CTOR, as this Havenly welcome email example shows.

Source: Really Good Emails

From there, the brand can send a follow-up email to conclude their welcome series that provides new users with testimonials from experienced users, which will help drive conversions down the line.

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 other factors 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 Campaign Monitor, the “sweet spot” for is about every two weeks.

This ensures that your audience is seeing your messages, but that you aren’t exposing them to email burnout. However, it is advised that you properly test send frequency amongst your own audience members in order to determine the sweet spot for your brand.

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. 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.

However, 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.

Oftentimes, 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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