We are often asked what would be considered a good email clickthrough rate (CTR).
The answer is always the same…there isn’t one.
Why not? Because CTRs depend on countless factors affecting an email campaign including:
- Your audience. The email CTR you can expect from a business audience will be considerably different from the average email clickthrough rate achieved by an email campaign targeted at consumers.
- Your message. A standalone marketing email works differently from articles and newsletters. Advocacy appeals on average have a much higher CTR than fundraising appeals. An HTML email with graphics will have a different impact than a plain text email.
- Your relevance. If the messaging of your mail is highly relevant to your target audience, it is most likely to result in better CTRs.
- Your frequency. Finding just the right balance in the frequency of your emails is important.
- Your links. Every link in an email is an opportunity to get a clickthrough. The number of links, the position of links, and the emphasis on links you include in your email play a role in the email CTR you get.
- Your content. If your email contains articles, the email CTR will vary between emails that contain the entire article in the email body and emails that provide a synopsis requiring the reader to click through to read the full article on your website.
- Other factors. The email opt-in process you adopt, the level of personalization, the way you segment your email list, and many other factors play a role in determining the average email clickthrough rate.
The CTR can provide helpful data as to whether your campaign is successful or needs some adjustments. However, while clickthrough rate is an important metric, it doesn’t tell the whole story. So don’t worry about what the industry average CTR is—just focus on building relationships and engaging your subscribers and brand influencers. That way, your CTR will steadily rise.
Is CTR important anyway?
The CTR may not be the be-all, end-all to email success any more. In an effort to improve the inbox experience for their customers in 2011, the four major ISPs (Hotmail, Yahoo, Gmail and AOL) have all announced plans to change the way that they block and filter email this year including adding social functionality to the inbox, as well as factoring user engagement into their filtering algorithms. This means that it’s now going to be critical that your subscribers not only open and clickthrough, but that they do so on a regular basis. If they don’t, it could affect your overall email deliverability, as well as negatively impact revenue driven from the email channel.
So a more useful metric than CTR is now engagement, or how many people are touched by a communication over time. This metric will tell a better and more accurate story about the success of an email communications program. Engagement metrics ask: Did the recipient forward the email to another person, or share it in some other way? Do they do this often?
To increase engagement, add social media icons to your email campaigns. Studies show that emails with social media sharing options get higher clickthrough rates than those without. Brand advocates and avid social media users are always looking for relevant, helpful content and great deals to share with their fans and followers. They’ll click your links to get the details of what you have to offer, and if they like what they see, they’ll pass it along to others within their social network.
Some strategies for raising reach, engagement, and CTR will work better than others depending on your industry and target audience. Simply write up a few different versions of your message, taking a different approach with your links and call-to-action, and split test them. Nothing wrong with testing.