Is the CTR dead? Why Email Marketers Rather Follow CTOR


Ever since email marketing became a legitimate marketing channel in the 1990s, email marketers have largely measured their performance against two metrics: open rate and click-through rate.

Open Rate measures the percentage of recipients who opened your email, which allows you to gauge your subject line and preview performance. Your click-through rate (CTR) measures the percentage of recipients who clicked on links in your email out of the total number of subscribers who received the email.

This means that a low open rate can dilute your click-through rate, even if a large percentage of the recipients who opened your email clicked on your website. With that in mind, your click-through rate might not be the best indicator of engagement.

So how do you accurately measure the true engagement levels of your email campaigns? Indicate the click rate to open or CTOR.

At HubSpot, our email marketing team measures the engagement of their campaigns against CTOR, because that’s a clear indicator of resonance.

“CTOR helps us understand and measure how our emails and CTAs resonate and perform with our audience,” says Ari Real-Wilson, Head of Conversational Marketing at HubSpot and former Head of Experiences for the HubSpot Global Messaging Team. “Since the only people who see the message are those who open the email, it makes sense for us to measure clicks based on who opened the email.”

How to calculate the CTOR

To calculate the click-to-open rate, the formula is simple: you start by dividing the number of unique clicks by the number of unique opens. Then you multiply that number by 100. The answer is your CTOR.

CTOR formula

Let’s take an example: you send an email to 1,000 subscribers. Twenty subscribers open the email and there are a total of 15 clicks. Here’s how you find the CTOR: (15/20) x 100 = 75%. This would mean that your CTOR is very high, the majority of subscribers who opened the email by clicking on the links.

When using this formula, it’s important to count only unique opens and clicks. For example, if one of your subscribers opens your email in the morning and clicks on a link. Then later that night they go back to the email and click on it again. You would not want this subscriber to be double counted as it will scramble the data. This is why the CTOR should only consider unique opens and clicks.

Now that you know how to calculate CTOR, you can set benchmarks for your own emails. A Campaign Monitor Report 2020 found that the average click-to-open rate across all industries is 14.3%. Brands in the real estate, design and construction sectors have the highest CTOR averages at 17.7%. The same report shows that food and beverage brands register the lowest TCOR at 8.9%.

Use these numbers as landmarks for your own campaigns.

CTR vs CTOR: Which one is better?

According to Echt-Wilson, CTOR is arguably the best metric for measuring the resonance of an email campaign. But that rate can reveal even more information about your email marketing, helping your team understand how to improve your campaigns.

“If an email is never opened, it’s hard to understand how we can move the needle in terms of engagement,” says It’s Miller, Senior Marketing Manager and former Demand Generation Marketing Manager at HubSpot.

The click-through rate is always a valuable metric to follow however, especially when you need a holistic view of your email performance.

“I’m looking at the click-through rate to get a better understanding of the overall performance of my emails,” says Jordan pritikin, the Head of Email Marketing and Growth at HubSpot. “Since CTR takes into account deliverability, subject line performance, and content performance in your email, this is a good metric to look at when I need a quick shot. eye on the overall performance of my email. “

How to improve your CTOR

Whether you’ve been following your CTOR for a while or planning to start, there will always be room for improvement. Here are some steps you can take to improve your CTOR:

1. Use the CTA buttons.

There are a few things about a good email: engaging copy, engaging images, and compelling calls to action. And in an email that’s full of text, button CTAs get a lot of attention.

You can use text-based CTAs, like “Click here for more information.” However, some data reports suggest that buttons may lead to higher click-through rates. In A / B test, Campaign Monitor saw a 28% increase in conversions using a button instead of a text link.

Here are some tips to keep in mind when using buttons:

  • Keep the prompt short: one to three words.
  • Use action-based verbs, such as “learn”, “discover”, “find” and “start”.
  • Place your CTA after you present the offer, not before.

Finally, your CTA button should be prominent enough to stand out, but not so much that it detracts from the overall user experience. If you are not sure, do a strabismus test to make sure it’s fair.

2. Re-evaluate your offers.

One of the reasons your click-to-open rate may be low is that your offers don’t match your audience’s interests. You might find that subscribers open your email, but as they scroll, none of the links attract them.

There are several ways to solve this problem:

  • Segment your mailing list – This will allow you to deliver the emails that are of real interest to your subscribers. Your prospects shouldn’t receive the same emails as your customers. They are at different stages of the funnel and may have different motivations.
  • Send an inquiry – If you’re not sure what your audience wants to see, who better to ask than the source itself? You can also include a link triggers in the email survey which can segment subscribers based on their responses.

3. Stick to a CTA.

There are a few tactics you can use to send CTAs via email. Some brands prefer to use multiple CTAs in their emails, leaving it to subscribers to click on the one they find most interesting. You will often see this in emails for retail offers. The idea is that more CTAs equals more opportunities to increase CTR.

One downside to this approach is the overload of choice. It happens when consumers struggle to make a decision because they are faced with too many options.

With that in mind, consider testing a single CTA. If there is only one desired action, you can increase your CTOR using this targeted method.

However, keep in mind that this approach may not be suitable for all campaigns. Experiment, A / B test and adjust as needed.

Email marketing is always adapting

Email marketing may be one of the most established marketing channels in the digital age, but it’s always adapting. Click-through rate has reigned as the top engagement metric for most of email marketing history, but click-through-to-open rate is proving to be much more revealing and insightful than its predecessor.

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