receives compensation from some of the companies listed on this page. Advertising Disclosure
BDC Hamburger Icon


BDC Logo
Search Icon
Updated Nov 02, 2023

What Is CTR in Email?

The click-through rate is a critical metric by which a small business can measure its email marketing success.

author image
Jamie Johnson, Senior Analyst & Expert on Business Operations
Verified CheckEditor Verified
Verified Check
Editor Verified
A editor verified this analysis to ensure it meets our standards for accuracy, expertise and integrity.

Table of Contents

Open row

When starting a new email marketing campaign, there are specific metrics you’ll want to track and pay attention to. You’ll want to see how many subscribers are opening your emails and the type of content that resonates with them.

Hopefully, you’re also tracking your click-through rate (CTR), one of the most essential email marketing metrics because it shows how engaged your audience is. But how do you calculate your CTR and know if it’s high or low? If your CTR is low, how can you start improving this metric?

What is email CTR?

Your CTR measures how many subscribers clicked on any links, buttons or images you included in a particular email. It’s the number of subscribers who clicked on at least one link in your email. According to Campaign Monitor, the average CTR across all industries is 2.3 percent.

However, what’s considered a good CTR varies by industry. For example, some of the highest average CTRs are in industries like education (4.4 percent), real estate (3.6 percent) and agriculture (3.4 percent). On the contrary, some industries with the lowest average CTRs include retail (0.7 percent), wellness and fitness (1.2 percent) and travel and hospitality (1.4 percent).

Editor’s note: Looking for the right email marketing service for your business? Fill out the below questionnaire to have our vendor partners contact you about your needs.

Why is CTR important?

Every time you start a new email marketing campaign, you should have a specific goal in mind. This goal could be to drive traffic to your landing pages, boost sales or get your subscribers to follow you on social media.

The point is that every email invites your subscribers to take a specific action. This is known as your call to action (CTA). By tracking your CTR, you can see how well your emails motivate your subscribers to take the action you want them to take.

Your CTR is a measure of how engaged your email subscribers are. It’s also a good indicator of whether you’re sending relevant content and offers to your audience.

FYIDid you know
Before sending relevant content to your audience, it's crucial to correctly identify your target audience. Here are five simple ways to pinpoint your brand’s target audience.

How do you calculate your email CTR?

Your email CTR is determined by the total number of subscribers who clicked on a link in your email. Here is the formula you’ll use to calculate your email CTR:

Total number of clicks ÷ Total delivered emails x 100 = CTR

So, if you sent an email to 200 subscribers and 25 of them clicked on a link, your CTR is 12.5 percent.

How can email CTR be improved?

If your email CTR is at least 2.3 percent, you’re on track with the average across all industries. However, you should always be trying to improve your CTR because the higher that number is, the more engaged your subscribers are.

Fortunately, improving your CTR doesn’t have to be complicated. If you need help figuring out where to start, take these seven steps to improve your email CTR.

1. Improve your open rates.

Your email open rate and CTR go hand in hand because if you can’t get your subscribers to open your emails, they won’t click on any of your links. So, improving your open rates is a good place to start.

One of the best ways to ensure subscribers open your emails is to modify the sender name and subject line. Instead of using your company name as the sender, why not try using a specific individual’s name? Using a personal name may seem minor but can make a big difference and increase overall open rates.

Your headline is another significant factor in whether customers open your emails. Shorter subject lines could improve your open rates. Mailchimp suggests using no more than nine words or 60 characters.

Here are a few other tips to improve your subject lines:

  • Personalize the subject line with the subscriber’s first name.
  • Don’t ask questions. Subject lines that end with a question mark have lower open rates.
  • Exercise caution when using emojis; only use them if they fit your brand.
  • Avoid using ALL CAPS or other spammy-looking characters.
  • Make subject lines timely and specific.

2. Optimize your emails for mobile.

The number of people using desktop computers continues to decline every year. Additionally, recent Statista data revealed that 46 percent of smartphone users prefer to receive business communications by email, emphasizing the importance of optimizing business emails for mobile devices.

So, if you’re wondering why you don’t have a higher CTR, you should see if your emails are optimized for mobile devices. If the email design isn’t responsive or the text is hard to read, you’re likely losing out on clicks.

One of the easiest ways to ensure that your emails are optimized for mobile is to use a predesigned template. Many email marketing software providers offer a wide selection of mobile-responsive templates.

Even if you use a mobile-responsive template, it’s a good idea to preview your email on various devices, which should include both iOS and Android devices, before sending it.

FYIDid you know
If you are looking for a user-friendly email marketing solution to help with your email strategy, check out our recommendations for the best email marketing software.

3. Make your emails scannable.

Most people do not read online articles, blog posts and emails fully. Instead, they scan the text for the most relevant information. So, you want to make sure your emails are easily scannable.

The easier your emails are to read, the less likely a subscriber is to get bored and delete the email as soon as they open it. Scannable emails also make it easier for readers to find and follow your CTA.

The best way to make your emails scannable is to make your sentences short and include lots of white space. Don’t make paragraphs longer than one or two sentences since large text blocks are hard to read.

It can help to include bullet points and lists wherever possible. Also, don’t make your email too long because some subscribers will lose interest.

4. Stick with one CTA.

As a business owner, you might have multiple products and services you’re trying to promote to your audience. That’s why some companies include dozens of links in the emails they send to their subscribers.

But too many links can overwhelm your subscribers. If you give your subscribers too many options, decision fatigue sets in, and they do nothing.

So, if you have multiple CTAs within the same email, that’s probably contributing to your low CTR. Instead, try to use one CTA that fits in well with the email content. Relevant, personalized content will make all the difference in converting your subscribers into customers.

5. Use a button instead of a link for your CTA.

Another simple way to increase your CTR is to use an HTML button instead of a hyperlink for your CTA. However, make sure you’re using bulletproof buttons, which you code into your email. They don’t technically count as images, so if some subscribers have turned email images off, your button will still appear.

You can use email marketing software to create bulletproof buttons that look great on all devices. If bulletproof buttons don’t work for you and you want to stick with hyperlinks, another option is to change your text links to a brighter font color, making them stand out more to your subscribers.

6. Personalize your emails.

If you want to see more results from your email campaigns, you must incorporate personalization. Endless studies have shown that personalized emails have the highest CTRs.

Personalization goes beyond using the subscriber’s first name. It’s about delivering timely, relevant offers to your audience based on their interests and where they are in the customer journey.

Creating dynamic offers is one of the best ways to use personalization to increase your CTR. A dynamic offer is customized to your audience based on their demographics, interests and stage in the customer journey.

For instance, let’s say you run an e-commerce store that sells clothing. An example of a dynamic offer would be showing women’s clothes to your female subscribers and men’s clothes to your male subscribers.

Your subscribers aren’t all interested in the same thing, so you shouldn’t send them the same offers. Segmenting your audience allows you to send information that’s relevant to them.

TipBottom line
If you are looking to advance your personalized email marketing strategy further, you can also send retargeting emails.

7. Utilize A/B split testing.

If you’re new to email marketing, it may feel overwhelming at first. To make it easier, you could pick one point outlined in this article and set up an A/B split test for that element of your email campaign.

Your email marketing service should make it easy to split test the following:

  • Email subject line
  • Email content
  • Images
  • CTA text
  • Buttons vs. hyperlinks

An excellent place to start is to split test two different CTAs to see which one performs better. You could also test different buttons to see if a particular color works better with your audience.

There are many ways to improve your email CTR and, in all likelihood, you’ll have to spend a lot of time testing and tracking your results. But over time, this will give you a better understanding of your audience so that you can create emails and offers that create more value for them.

Skye Schooley contributed to this article.

author image
Jamie Johnson, Senior Analyst & Expert on Business Operations
Jamie Johnson has spent more than five years providing invaluable financial guidance to business owners, leading them through the financial intricacies of entrepreneurship. From offering investment lessons to recommending funding options, business loans and insurance, Johnson distills complex financial matters into easily understandable and actionable advice, empowering entrepreneurs to make informed decisions for their companies. As a business owner herself, she continually tests and refines her business strategies and services. Johnson's expertise is evident in her contributions to various finance publications, including Rocket Mortgage, InvestorPlace, Insurify and Credit Karma. Moreover, she has showcased her command of other B2B topics, ranging from sales and payroll to marketing and social media, with insights featured in esteemed outlets such as the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, CNN, USA Today, U.S. News & World Report and Business Insider.
BDC Logo

Get Weekly 5-Minute Business Advice

B. newsletter is your digest of bite-sized news, thought & brand leadership, and entertainment. All in one email.

Back to top