What is Email Click-through Rate (CTR)? And How to Improve It?

Ammar Mazhar
Ammar Mazhar

Last updated on

June 2, 2024

As a novice email marketer, you must be really proud of launching your first email campaign. When you see the high open rate in email, you feel proud and highly optimistic about a high ROI. But, when that doesn’t happen, you feel frustrated. 

Why is your campaign not achieving its objectives? Why are people opening your emails, but the conversion rate remains low? These must be some of the questions that come to your mind. This could be due to a low click-through rate

The click-through rate is the cornerstone of email marketing metrics. Without knowing the number of people clicking on the links in your emails,  it’s hard to ascertain how people are finding your emails and how much they like them so that they subscribe to your email list. Anything above 2% is considered a good email CTR rate (Wordstream). Therefore, it is what email marketers should aim to achieve

But not to worry! This blog is all about how you can increase your email CTR by incorporating the industry's best practices in your email marketing campaigns.

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What is email click-through rate?

Email click-through rate (CTR) is a metric that measures how often email recipients click on at least one link in the email. A high CTR means that people find your email content relevant and take the time to click through to learn more.

But that's not the whole picture. Click-through rates are of two types:

  1. 1. Total click-through rate (TCTR)
  2. 2. Unique click-through rate (UCTR)
Types of click-through rates

Total click-through rate (TCTR)

The total click-through rate (TCTR) measures the total number of clicks an email receives. It shows how popular an email is, but a few things can make TCTR a bit noisy, making it not the standard email click-through definition. These things include:

  • People opening the links on multiple devices
  • Clicking on links multiple times 
  • Firewalls opening links to check for malware.

You click on a link in an email on a computer and click on the same link on a phone; now, the TCTR will register two clicks. Similarly, if you open the same link in the morning and at night, the TCTR will report it as two clicks instead of one.

A firewall can also contribute toward TCTR when it opens a link to check it for malware. But clicks by firewalls are not organic. So, it’s hard to determine if a click is unique or not. 

Unique click-through rate (UCTR)

Unique click-through rate (UCTR) is the measure of unique clicks an email link receives. As opposed to TCTR, UCTR registers each click as unique, therefore, if you open a link to show your friends 3 or 4 times, it will be registered as one unique click and not as a same click.

Both UCTR and TCTR are important but for different scenarios. If you want to get a clear picture in terms of total shares and repeat engagement with your emails, then TCTR is the measure is useful. But, if you want to know the percentage of unique individual clicks then UCTR is the way to go.

Why are click-through rates important?

Click-through rates are significant because they show engagement with your email content. The more people click through to your website or landing page, the more likely your email marketing goals are achieved.

Click-through rates are also important to measure because they tell you what are your customer's expectations. Also, it can inform email marketers whether or not they are targeting the right audience through their emails.

Let's say there is a blog about mobile phones where review mobile phones are reviewed and talk about new phone features. If you are sending your emails to an email list that is not interested in knowing about what mobile phones are the best budget mobile phones available in the market or what is the most feature-heavy mobile phone in the world, then your email click-through rate, open rate will suffer as result. And as a result of this, your conversions and leads will also drop.

But there is a silver lining to it as well. By measuring your click-through rate, you will be able to identify who in your email list is interested in reading your blog. 

How to Calculate Email CTR?

Email CTR is calculated by dividing the number of people who clicked on a link in your email by the total number of people who received the email. For example, if 1,000 people receive your email and 100 people click on a link, your email CTR would be 10%. Thus, the CTR formula is: 

Email click-through rate formula

3 Factors affecting email CTR rates

Several factors affect email CTR rates, including the subject line, the content of the email, the call to action, bounce rate, and the email client.

1. Subject Lines

If a subject lines says  "100 percent guaranteed," "amazing offer, or " best price" then that email will be considered spam by the ESP. It will subsequently trigger the spam filter which will place the email in the spam folder.

Also, the use of BLOCK letters for subject line is not preferred. It triggers spam and Email Service Providers (ESPs) will blacklist you if you continue such a practice.

2. CTA placement

If the email copy doesn't contain what the customer wants, that email’s CTR will suffer. If the call to action is not visible to the recipient, then he won't click through to any of your websites or landing pages. Inserting one CTA is preferred (in the middle of the email copy or at the end) but once in a while some email marketers insert two CTAs - in the banner and at end of the email copy. 

2. Bounce rate

Bounce rate is the percentage of visitors to a website who leave without taking any action like clicking on a link, filling out a form, or making a purchase. But not all bounce rates are the same. There are two types of bounce rates:

1.1) Hard Bounce

These occur when an email is sent to an invalid email address. Hard bounce also drastically affects email deliverability and sender reputation scores.

1.2) Soft Bounce

These occur when an email is sent to a valid email address but is returned by the email server.

Both types of bounce rates can affect your email CTR, but hard bounces have a more significant impact because they prevent your email from being delivered. 

What is a good email CTR rate?

There is no standard percentage that is considered a good email CTR rate. There are multiple factors that can affect your CTR, like what are your goals and objectives for your email marketing campaigns.

But across all industries, the average CTR rate is 2.60%. While government emails enjoy the highest CTR rate of 6.00%, retail businesses have a low CTR rate of just 1.10%.

CTR across industries

How do click-through rates compare by device?

The email client you use can also affect your email CTR rates. In general, mobile devices have lower CTR rates than desktop computers. People are more likely to scan emails on their mobile devices and are less likely to click through to a website or landing page. 

For keywords ranking at the #1 position in the Google search results, desktops show a CTR of 27.09%. While mobile devices showed a CTR of 20.96%. 

But 80% of brands send optimized emails for mobile phones and such emails generate 15% more CTR rates than unoptimized emails. Therefore, you should not forget mobile device users when starting your email marketing campaigns.

CTR comparison by device

How to improve an email’s CTR — 15 Effective tips

Tips for improving click-through rates

1. Send relevant content

Content relevance improves email CTR rates. Your email should be targeted to a specific audience and offer something valuable to them. 

Also, offering the recipient some incentive for clicking the links can also increase CTR rates. You can include the offer in the email copy and can also use images to guide the recipient. 

2. Test email subject lines

69% of recipients will mark an email as spam if they don’t find the subject line compelling. The subject line of an email is the first thing people will see, so it’s essential to make sure it’s effective. Test different subject lines to see which ones get the most opens and clicks. 

You can A/B test different subject lines and compares the results. Usually, personalized subject-lined emails have a higher open rate of 22% than those emails that don’t have personalized subject lines.

3. Personalize the content

Make sure the content of the email is personalized for each recipient. Include the recipient’s name in the email and ensure the content is relevant to their interests. Don’t shy away from adopting a conversational tone. Your prospects will be more at ease in communicating with you. 

A personalized email has a click-through rate of 2.5x more than an email that isn’t. Moreover, personalized emails generate 5.7 times more revenue as well. 

3.1) Make it easy to unsubscribe:

It might seem counterintuitive, but making it easy to unsubscribe can help improve email CTR. If people feel like they can easily unsubscribe from your email list, they’re more likely to trust you and click on the links in your email. Provide an unsubscribe button in the email and make sure that the recipient can see it.

4. Make use of FOMO

People are more likely to take action if they feel like they’re missing out on something. Use email marketing strategies that create a sense of urgency, such as offering a limited-time discount or early access to a new product. 

Provide incentivized deals to first-time customers. It is human nature that, when something is limited and exclusive, they want it. Therefore, veteran email marketers use this technique to boost click-through rates and conversions.

5. Cover only one topic in your email

Keep your email focused on one topic so that people don’t get distracted and click away. If you have multiple things to talk about, send separate emails for each case. Don’t create confusion in the minds of your customers by offering multiple deals and offers. Keep focus on the current marketing campaign and make sure that the emails have images related to that topic. 

6. Optimize emails for mobile devices

More and more people are reading emails on their mobile devices. In fact, 85% of email users check emails on their mobiles, so it’s essential to optimize your emails. Make sure the text is easy to read and that the links are easy to click. 

Also, optimize the images to open on previous iterations of mobile devices. This way, you can increase the ambit of your email marketing campaigns. 

7. Send emails at the right time

Timing is everything when it comes to email marketing. Make sure you send your emails when people are likely to be able to read and click through them. Send emails during working hours, specifically at 1 PM, for at this time, the click-to-open rate is recorded to be 22%. And, you can send your emails at 12 AM.

Send emails at the start and at the end of the day. Because, at these times, people mostly check their emails. Therefore, it is a prudent approach to send your emails at these times. 

Send emails on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday. They have the highest open and click-through rates.

8. Include a share button

Make it easy for people to share your email by including a share button. It will allow people to share your email with their social network, which can help increase your CTR. Use branded buttons for sharing on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and Instagram. 

A survey showed that including a social media share button increased click-through rates by 30%. Moreover, the CTR rate increased to 55% with the inclusion of 3 or more share buttons.

Bed, Bath, and Beyond did a great job at highlighting its social media buttons in its emails. At the center of the image, they have added an image of what social media platforms they are on. At the bottom of the email, they have added the buttons to their social media platforms which include Facebook, Pinterest, YouTube, and Twitter.

Bed, Bath, and Beyond include share buttons in emails

9. Segmentation of email lists

One way to improve email CTR is to segment your email list. It means sending different emails to different groups based on their interests or demographics. According to research,  email marketers who segment their email lists have increased their revenue by 760%

Therefore, it is important to ensure that your email campaigns are targeted toward the right people. To do that, you can clean your email lists and remove dormant subscribers. Moreover, you can view the latest click-through rates and decide who is interested in receiving the emails among the subscribers. 

10. Use clickable HTML buttons

HTML buttons are more clickable than text links, so they can help improve your email CTR. Include HTML buttons in the email and make sure they’re visible and easy to click. 

Make sure that HTML button’s color compliments well with the images you use in your emails and doesn’t make finding the buttons hard.

11. Use images

Humans find visuals appealing. Images can help make your email more visually appealing and can also help explain your message. In fact, according to research, campaigns that include images in their emails had 42% higher click-through rates than those that didn’t have one. But don’t use too many photos, as they can make your email seem cluttered. 

12. Add a video

Videos are a great way to engage people and can help improve your email CTR. Include a video in  email and make sure it’s relevant to the content of your email. 

Fort Myers’s spring training announcement email includes a video for introducing the other teams and their mascots. The mascots can be seen interacting with the crowd. 

Fort Myers's spring training video

13. Enticing Preheaders

The preheader is the text that appears after the subject line in an email. It’s an excellent section to include a call to action or additional information about your email. Preheaders are the supporting character to your subject line’s protagonist. Therefore, choose the words carefully for your preheaders.

14. Add social proof

Social proof is a way of showing people that others have used and liked your product. Include social proof in your email to show people that your product is widespread and trusted. 

Bite, an oral hygiene brand, uses social proof to highlight its achievement in its emails. They have added reviews from some media outlets and industry experts. Also, they have added customer testimonials.

Bite's social proof example

15. Test your emails

One way to improve email CTR is to A/B test your emails. This means sending different email versions to different groups of people and seeing which version gets the most clicks.  Test the subject lines, email copy, images, videos, and even fonts. This way, you can formulate better email marketing strategies for the next campaigns. 

Increase CTR and other email marketing metrics with Mailmunch

An increased CTR means that your email campaign is successful. Email marketers struggling with low CTRs can incorporate the tips mentioned to improve the CTR rate. With Mailmunch, you can not only boost your click-through rates but also increase open rates, conversions, and leads.

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What is email Click-through open rate (CTOR)?

CTOR is a metric that measures how often people click on links in your email. It’s an excellent way to gauge how effective your email is at getting people to click through to your website or landing page. 

What is the difference between CTR and CTOR?

CTR measures how often people click on links in your email, while CTOR measures how often people click on links and open your email. 

What is the difference between clicks and click-through rates?

Clicks are the number of times people click on links in your email, while click-through rates measure how often those clicks turn into visits to your website or landing page. 

How many CTA’s should I include in my email campaign?

You should include one CTA for every email you send. Make sure your CTAs are clear and easy to understand and that they’re placed in an easy-to-spot location. 

Which types of emails have the highest click-through rates?

The type of email with the highest click-through rate is a promotional email. These are emails that promote a product or service. 

What day should I send my email campaign?

The day you send your email campaign can have an impact on your CTR. Studies have shown that email campaigns sent on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday have the highest CTR. 

Do images help in click-through rates?

Yes, images can help improve email CTR. Images are more eye-catching than text, so they can make people more likely to click through to your website or landing page. 

Text vs. buttons – which CTA should I choose?

HTML buttons are more clickable than text links, so they can help improve email CTR. Include HTML buttons in your email and make sure they’re visible and easy to click. 

How important is the CTA placement?

Your CTA should be placed in an easy-to-spot location, such as the top or bottom of your email. It should also be clear and easy to understand. 

Author Bio

Ammar Mazhar

A voracious reader and a music lover, Ammar has been writing engaging and informative content for over 3 years for B2B and B2C markets. With a knack for writing SEO-optimized content, Ammar ensures the results speak for themselves.


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