There are a lot of different metrics that help determine the success of an email marketing campaign. Open rates, click rates, unsubscribe rates, bounce rates… all of these play a really important role in overall email performance. As email marketers, keeping track of all of these metrics is just as important as actually sending out the messages. But there’s one metric that doesn’t always get the credit it deserves: the click-to-open rate.

What is click-to-open rate?

Click-to-open rate (CTOR) takes a closer look at subscribers that are engaging with your emails and compares unique clicks to unique opens. In other words, this breaks down the number of people who opened your email vs. the number of people who opened and clicked a link within that email.

While open rates can be a good indication of how your brand and subject lines resonate with your audience, and click-through rates can help you understand how enticing your content is to them, both of these metrics are measured against the total number of emails sent – including those that weren’t even opened in the first place. The click-to-open rate takes subject lines, messaging, design and content all into consideration to measure how your openers are interacting with your message.

What is a good click-to-open rate?

Like many of email marketing’s most pressing questions, the short answer here is, “it depends.” Your industry, audience, content, subject matter… even the time of day you send an email can all have an impact on CTOR.

Comparing your results to industry standards is a great way to gauge how you’re stacking up against others in your field, but it’s also important to really get to know your audience, their behaviors and how they engage with your content on a regular basis. If you’re just ramping up your email marketing efforts or how to measure their success, and you don’t have baseline metrics of your own to compare to, leaning on generic email or industry averages is a good place to start. There are a lot of excellent resources out there that break down metrics by industry, including emfluence’s Yearly Benchmark report.

Each platform has its own unique data, but most sources will tell you that the average for CTOR is around 10-15%. If click-to-open rate is something you’ve never measured before, you can definitely use this range as your initial goal. However, as you deploy more campaigns and collect more performance metrics, always compare back to your own results. Using data from your unique audience is the best way to measure your success!

email click to open benchmarks

How to calculate click-to-open rate

To calculate click-to-open rate, divide the number of unique clicks by the number of unique opens. Multiply that number by 100 to get the percentage, and you’ve got your email click-to-open rate!

click to open rate

For example, let’s say in your last campaign, you sent 50,000 emails. As a savvy email marketer, you A/B tested your subject lines and segmented your list, of course, so you have a strong open rate of 25%– meaning 12,500 people opened your email. Your click rate is hovering around 2.5%, so 1,250 people clicked on at least one link in your email. To calculate click-to-open rate, divide the number of unique clicks (1,250) by the number of unique opens (12,500), then multiply by 100 (1,250/12,500 = 0.1, 0.1 x 100 = 10%). In this case, your click-to-open rate is 10%.

How do you improve click to open rate?

As the name suggests, the click-to-open rate relies on both clicks and opens to be successful. As you’re reviewing your campaigns, it’s important to measure baseline metrics for all KPIs, and not just focus on one metric alone. However, if you want to dig deeper into how your content resonates with your engaged audience, then keep a close eye on click-to-open rate.

If you’re noticing great open rates, but low click-to-open rates, your customers are probably connecting with your subject lines enough to open, but maybe you left them wanting more in terms of content or offers – they just didn’t feel compelled to click through. In this case, you’d want to assess your email content and CTAs to ensure you’re giving them reason to seek out more information.

On the other hand, if you’re seeing low open rates but high CTOR, review your audience segmentation strategy. This could mean you have great content and CTAs, but you’re just not sending to the right audience for the message.

The most important part of any email campaign is the value it provides to subscribers. If you start to notice that your CTOR is falling below your baseline, it’s a good indication that you’re not providing enough value. Don’t be afraid to consult with your audience to ask what they’d like to see from you. Then, run some tests, analyze the results, and test again!

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