Email Click Through Rate: What it is and Why It Matters

Email Click Through Rate: What it is and Why It Matters

Email click through rate or email CTR is one of the most important metrics for email marketers of all types – no matter the niche. This important metric shows us just how engaged our subscribers are and can help us learn what our list likes and dislikes. A high email click through rate is ideal because it shows people are reading your emails and taking action. That’s exactly what we want.

There’s little point to sending an email if no one takes any action.

What is an Email Click Through Rate?

Your email open rate is the cousin of your email click through rate. One shows what percentage of people find your emails worth reading. The other shows the percentage of subscribers who click on a link or button in the message body. Both are important email marketing metrics you need to know.

In the context of email, a click through rate tells us how many of your subscribers clicked on a link or button in a given email.

For example, imagine you’ve sent an email to a list of 100 subscribers. A few days later, you check your statistics for that email and find that 5 out of the 100 subscribers clicked the link in your email.

Your email click through rate for that message is 5%.

Higher Email Click Through Rate = Healthier Campaign

A great email CTR is one of the best indicators that your email campaign is healthy and effective. Why?

A high email click through rate shows that your subscribers are willing to take action. When you ask them to click on a link in an email, they click. If you ask them to visit a site, they do.

This is one of the best ways to tell if you are connecting with your subscribers. Unless they’re weird, they aren’t going to click any random link they receive. They need a good reason.

A great CTR shows that your messages are being well received are encourage people to take action.

Awesome sauce.

On the flip side, if your CTR isn’t great, it’s often an indicator that something is wrong. For one reason or another, your subscribers simply aren’t clicking on the links you send. The question is, why?

Why Does an Email Click Through Rate Matter?

As if the health of your campaign isn’t enough to think about, email click through rates matter for other reasons. Big reasons.

“What could be more important?” you ask.

How about your time?

You work hard writing email messages. You spend time and energy you can never get back. Don’t you want that time to be used well? Isn’t it in your best interest to make sure you’re not wasting your life on something that isn’t working?

Absolutely it is.

Your email click through rate is, in many ways, a measure of whether or not your time as a marketer is being wasted. As I’ve said elsewhere, if no one opens your emails, reads what you have to say, or takes any action, you’re wasting your time.

Knowing your CTR gives you the opportunity to improve and make sure your valuable time is spent wisely.

But secondly, your email service provider cares very much about your CTR. Why? Because, to them, it’s an indicator of list quality.

It’s no secret that spam is a major problem these days. Providers like GetResponse know this and are fighting to prevent their systems from being used to send it. To that end, they want to make sure the quality of your subscriber list is above reproach.

They want evidence that you have permission to send email to your subscribers and aren’t sending unsolicited crud. Two of the best evidences are a great email open rate and a fantastic email click through rate.

What’s the Average Email Click Through Rate?

Click through rates vary by industry. So, unfortunately, there’s no way to pin down and exact click through rate for all people at all times in all niches.

For example, imagine you have a small list in the gardening niche. You’ve built your list with your gardening blog. As your subscribers expect from you, you send every new blog post or article out as a newsletter and ask people to check out the full post on your site.

You see a click through rate of about 7%. Hmm.

Your other list, one in the marketing niche, is seeing an email CTR of about 18%.

Clearly the list in the marketing niche is much better, right? After all, it has a higher CTR. More people are clicking links.

Not so fast.

It’s entirely possible – even likely – for two very healthy lists in two disparate niches to have vastly different stats.

Now, we still want the best email click through rate we can possibly get. A higher CTR rate is still far better than a lower CTR.

Generally speaking, a healthy CTR is in the 10-15% range.

Improve Your Email Click Through Rate

As I said a moment ago, a great email CTR is a sign of a healthy list and a healthy campaign. A poor CTR, though, is usually indicative of a deeper issue. For one reason or another, your subscribers simply aren’t clicking what you’re sending.

They ain’t picking up what you’re puttin’ down.

But what can you do to turn that around and improve your email click through rate?

Format your emails well

Do your emails display well on mobile devices and on desktops? Do they look good? Are they easy to follow? Or, are they a jumbled mess of broken graphics and poor design?

Few things make people more reluctant to click than a poorly designed email.

Now, if your messages are primarily text-based, this doesn’t apply to you as much. But if you venture into using graphics, HTML and the like in your messages, you’d better make sure it looks good and works on all platforms.

Write better content

Poorly written content is not compelling content. You want your content to encourage readers to click on and engage your images and links. If it’s full of grammatical errors, doesn’t flow well and is boring, your message will have a terrible CTR. No question.

Why would I want to click on anything you want me to click if you can’t properly communicate to me why you want me to click?

I wouldn’t.

Segment your list

Do you send every one of your emails to every one of your subscribers? You shouldn’t. Separate your subscribers into sub-lists. For example, have a list for those most likely to click and one for those who have never clicked on anything you’ve sent.

Put your most active subscribers on one list, and your least active on another.

Build trust

The Internet is a scary place. There’s plenty of junk and malicious content. Any time you ask your subscriber to click on a link, you’re asking him to trust you that it’s safe.

But why should anyone trust you if you aren’t trustworthy? Build trust with your subscribers so they will feel comfortable clicking on what you send.

Create a call to action

When you want something, ask. Don’t include a link and just assume people will click it. Mention the link in your message text. Ask people to click the link below or visit your site. Don’t assume.

Assumption doesn’t lead to a good email click through rate.

Send your message again

You will very rarely get 100% of your subscribers to open any given email. Each time you send, you may see a large percentage of your subscribers never open – let alone click anything in – your message.

It’s frustrating, but normal.

Don’t be afraid to send your message again to those who didn’t open it the first time. Most email service providers will show you just who did and did not open any given email message.

Remove unresponsive subscribers

Sometimes no matter what you do, some subscribers just will not open your messages or click your links. These people are dead weight and provide absolutely no benefit. These are the kinds of people you want to unsubscribe from your list.

If they don’t unsubscribe, don’t feel bad about removing them. Chances are, they won’t even notice they’ve been removed.

Tracking Your Email Click Through Rate

Every self respecting email service provider has tools that show how well your messages are – or aren’t – performing. No matter which service you use, make sure to find and make use of these tools.

My personal favorite email provider is GetResponse.

Using GetResponse’s toolset, I can drill down by message, number of people who opened, number who clicked, any bounces, unsubscribes, etc.

This particular email had an 18% email click through. Not bad.

Example email CTR in GetResponse
Example email CTR in GetResponse

Factors that Affect Email Click Through Rate

Hopefully by now you understand what a click through rate is, why it matters, how you can improve it, and how to track it. But it’s also important to understand the factors that can affect your email click through rate.

Understanding these factors will better equip you to improve your email click through rate and make the most of your marketing time and dollar.

Too many or too few links

Email links are like salt. Good in moderation. Horrible in excess. Every link you add to your email campaign needs to be value packed, easy to see and inviting. In general, keep the number of links in any given email under 2 or 3. Any more than that, and you look desperate.

On the flip side, a single link for a long email falls in the “too little” category. Balance the number of links with the length of your text.

Too many words in your message

Chances are your subscribers won’t want to sit and read a 2,000 word email. No one has that kind of time. Get straight to the point. Make your point and ask for a click. Don’t dance around it.

If your email is too long, someone may open it, but he’s not going to read the whole thing, and he’s most likely not going to click your link – hurting your email click through rate.

Constant Contact recommends emails with “15-20 lines of text with 1-2 relevant images” as the sweet spot.

This length is a good balance of content and call to action visibility.

No call to action

Your call to action or CTA is an unmistakable bit of direction. “Click here!” “Click that!” “Sign up!” etc. Tell people what you want them to do. Don’t make them guess. If they have to guess, they won’t do it.

Make people want to click

Obviously none of us can control our fellow man or woman. We can’t force anyone to mouse over and click on anything we put in front of their faces. If we could, our click through rates would be through the roof.

We have to make people want to click our links. We have to make them want to click through to our sites.

Be creative. Ask your subscribers to click that shiny button or exciting link. Encourage them to click through by telling them the exciting benefits.

Make your call to action bold and unmistakable. People often need to be told exactly what you want them to do. When you say, “Click the link below…” (or a variation thereof), you leave little doubt in their minds.

As you continue to grow a relationship with your subscribers, they will learn to love what you have to say and will happily click your links, of course boosting your email click through rate.