Click-to-open rates (CTOR) are valuable metrics to track because they give marketers like us insight into how well our content is resonating with subscribers. While there are numerous ways to determine how successful email campaigns are, CTORs are easy to calculate, analyze, and communicate, making them a powerful metric for showcasing email campaign performance. 

What is a Good Click-to-Open Rate for Email?

Now that we’ve established why CTOR is an important metric for email marketers to look at, the real questions come into play: How do we know whether what we’re looking at is good or bad? What is a good click-to-open rate to strive for? 

In order to know what a good CTOR is, we first need to understand what CTORs tell us and how they’re calculated.  

How to Calculate Click-to-Open Rate

As previously mentioned, part of the convenience of CTORs is that they’re easy to calculate. Simply divide your unique email opens by your unique email clicks and then multiple this number by 100. For example, let’s say you send your email out to 1,000 people on your email list. Of these 1,000 people, only half open the email, and of the half, about 250 people end up clicking on a link. You end up with a CTOR of 50%.  

The 50% in our example is an exceptionally awesome and uncommon CTOR, so don’t feel disappointed if your calculations lead you to a lower percentage. 

On average, in any industry, you’ll typically see a CTOR between 20-30%. Of course, when you examine industries individually, you’ll start to see variation. For example, media, real estate, education, and government see higher CTOR rates than retail, food, or travel industries.  

If you’re not hitting these marks, there’s no need to panic. Regardless of what you’re seeing, at the end of the day, you’re walking away with valuable information about how your subscribers are responding to the emails you’re sending. From here, all that’s needed is some simple trial and error to figure out what kind of content your subscribers are interested in and what encourages them to click. Try out a few different ideas with A/B testing. For example, link to different content to see what your subscribers are most interested in, test in-text links versus buttons, and experiment with eye-catching imagery or GIFs near your CTA.  

It’s also critical to note that while averages can help inform you about how your metrics compare to others in your industry, it’s just as important to take your own goals and past performance into account. You can do so by setting benchmarks before the start of each campaign. You can even do this for each different type of campaign that you run ⏤ everything from re-engagement campaigns to weekly newsletters. When you keep a close eye on this data, you’ll be able to see what your highest and lowest CTORs are and use those parameters to set expectations and new goals.  

CTR vs CTOR

We’re probably not the first to point out to you that marketers use a lot of acronym s⏤ and we mean A LOT. With shortened versions of every kind of process, term, and metric floating around, it can be difficult to keep them separate. CTR, CTOR, is there even a relevant difference?  

If you’re working in marketing, it’s a good idea to gain a clear understanding of each so you know what you’re measuring and can apply insights properly.  

CTR stands for Click-Through Rate, also known as the metric that tracks how frequently something is clicked. This could be an ad, a link, or anything else that directs the user somewhere else on their device.  

CTOR, on the other hand, the metric we’ve been focusing on this entire blog post, stands for click-to-open rate. While that may sound similar, it measures something very different. This not only accounts for email opens, but those that take an extra step and click on something in the email after opening.  

The difference between these two can easily become lost because they measure variations of similar things. However, the distinction is important. When comparing emails using CTRs, the data that you’re viewing is also being affected by the email’s open or view rate. So various factors, such as your list hygiene, your subject line, your preview text, sending schedule, etc. are affecting that rate.  

CTORs measure how many people click-through an email, out of the number of people who opened the email. This gives you a much clearer view of how your in-email links are performing. 

So, which one is better for analyzing email performance? By now, you likely know that this is a trick question. CTRs and CTORs measure very different things and are each useful in their own regard.  

One caveat to mention (and has been mentioned in endless articles across the internet) is Apple’s Mail Privacy Protection (MPP) that has been in place since last September. If you missed that announcement, you can catch up in our “where are we now” recap of MPP on our agency blog.  

MPP allows Apple Mail users to block tracking pixels. In order to do this, Apple is automatically downloading images to a proxy server for every message received by an Apple Mail client that has the privacy setting activated. The result of this is that, in most email service providers (ESPs), email view rates are being overstated ⏤ meaning that a large percentage of marketers and businesses alike no longer have access to accurate data.  When open rates are impacted, click-to-open rates aren’t as reliable as they once were either.  

To counteract this, earlier this year, the emfluence Marketing Platform rolled out an update to manage the overstated email views caused by MPP. The update filters out email views triggered from the specific User/Agent responsible for the downloads, reducing email view rates and making them more in line with typical email view rates. 

The Takeaway

When it comes to email marketing, there are an abundance of metrics that can inform our strategies and guide our campaigns. Beyond your CTOR, you can also use data on bounce rates, conversion rates, opt-out rates, and other email marketing metrics to paint a full picture of how your email campaigns are performing. At the end of a long (or short) campaign, email metrics are useful guides for tracking the progress towards your goals, and your CTOR is an essential part of the bigger picture.  

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