Sending out marketing emails can feel a little like shouting into a void. You have a great idea, you send it out, and then….what, exactly? Sometimes, you can see an immediate result from your email: purchases begin flowing in, clients start booking calls, or website traffic goes up. 

But what about all the times you might not see an immediate result? Or what if you posted an excellent social media post at the same time — did that draw in your new business, or was it the email?

Luckily, you don’t have to guess! Email marketing services like  Mailchimp, Klaviyo, Campaign Monitor, and many others contain detailed analytics that provide a clear look at what your subscribers respond well to.

Click to open rate (CTOR) is one of the most insightful metrics you can use when evaluating your email marketing strategies. In this guide, we’ll take a deeper dive into:

  • What is the click to open rate?
  • What does this metric mean?
  • What is a good or bad click to open rate?
  • How can you use this information?
  • How to track and measure changes in your click to open rate
  • Is it possible to improve your click to open rate?

Understanding Click to Open Rates for Email Marketing

When discussing email marketing strategies, you’ll often hear two metrics referenced again and again: 

Open Rate: how many people opened your email campaign 

Click-Through Rate: the percentage of recipients who clicked on a link in your email after receiving it

Even though these metrics are a common focal point, they don’t tell you everything you need to know about your campaigns’ health.

Click-through rates can be skewed by problems with delivery. If half of your emails can’t be delivered due to a widespread technical issue, this metric won't provide an accurate representation of engagement.

Open rates can also see an impact from technical problems or even holidays, when recipients are out of office.

CTOR clarifies these murky metrics by comparing the number of clicks to the number of actual opens.

What is a Good Click to Open Rate?

Click to open rates can vary depending on your industry. Typically, a decent CTOR is somewhere in the 20-30% range.

Let’s say you send 120 emails to your subscribers. 

  • 100 of these emails get delivered 
  • 60 of those emails get opened 
  • 15 unique link clicks are recorded

Using the traditional click-through rate metric, you’d be dividing 15 clicks by a total of 100 delivered emails. That's only a 15% click rate.

When we look at the click to open rate, we see that out of 60 email opens, 15 people clicked. That’s a rate of 25%. Suddenly, your email campaign performance is starting to look a lot better.

Evaluating Email Performance with Click to Open Rates

By monitoring your CTOR regularly, you’ll be able to identify trends across campaigns. 

Low open rates indicate that your emails may be encountering a delivery issue or poor subject lines.

High open rates with a low CTOR can indicate that your email content isn’t engaging the recipient and encouraging them to click. 

If your CTOR has been high but takes a sudden dive, it is a clear signal that your campaign needs some new attention. It may be time to rectify a technical problem or to modify and refresh overall strategy. 

How to Improve Your Email Campaign’s Click to Open Rate

The first step to improving average CTOR is ensuring your email list stays clean and up-to-date:

  • Collect subscriber emails via a double opt-in process
  • Your email lists do not include any contacts scraped from another source or purchased from a third-party vendor
  • Every email has a link directly to your unsubscribe form 
  • You regularly audit your list and remove any subscribers that bounce, have never interacted with your messages, or have requested removal from the list

Once you’re confident you have a healthy email list, tweaks to campaign structure and design can further boost CTOR.

Develop an Email Segmentation Strategy

Segmentation is the practice of grouping subscribers by a common denominator. Possible segments could include:

  • Contact source
  • Engagement frequency 
  • Customer purchase history
  • Individual demographics 

Subscribers can belong to more than one segment. Your email program may be able to update segments automatically based on engagement, too. 

Segments help to improve CTOR by aligning email content more closely with the things subscribers care about. By targeting campaigns to a specific segment of your list, you can put the most relevant, appealing content in front of subscribers and increase their likelihood of engagement. As each segment begins to open and click on these targeted emails, CTOR goes up. 

A/B Test Email Campaigns

Sometimes, seemingly small changes can have a significant impact on CTOR. A/B testing involves sending two versions of an email to groups of your subscriber base. 

It’s important to have a decently sized group of subscribers on which to test your emails. HubSpot recommends at least 1,000. However, smaller email lists can still implement an even 50/50 split and see results. You’ll send email Version A to half of your subscriber list in this scenario, and Version B to the rest. 

Typically, an A/B test might evaluate:

  • How effective a subject line is
  • Size, placement, and content of images
  • Changes in email design
  • Length and type of email copy
  • Calls to action

While a catchy subject line can help you get email opens, the body of an email drives clicks and engagement. Images and copy are of special importance — combined, the two create the message that is ultimately causing your recipient to click or delete the email. By using A/B testing to confirm your subscribers’ preferences, you’ll be encouraging subscribers to actively engage, improving CTOR.

Source: Mailchimp.com

Tracking Email Click to Open Rates

Once you begin testing emails or trying out new designs, it’s crucial to track your CTOR. Every marketing department has its hits and misses when sending email campaigns. By gathering data over time and assessing your average CTOR, you can begin to develop a picture of what is and is not working. 

You may find that subscribers respond to specific images and designs based on their segment. In this case, you’ll need to create clear sets of templates and collateral to best target each group. Email marketing programs typically aren’t built to organize and house multiple content libraries. The use of a Digital Asset Management Platform like Sparkfive can help. With the use of content tags and campaign labels, it becomes easy for distributed teams to remain aligned on collateral and strategy.