eMail Click Through Rate – Effectiveness of eMail Deployment

What Is a Good Click Through Rate for eMails?

I get this question many times… It’s actually a difficult one – I mean…the question is easy to ask:

“Define email click through rate for me, Steve, please… will you?”

…but the answer is a little bit more difficult to explain!

Here is why…

The Definition of “eMail Click Through Rate” would simply state that it is a ratio between the total number of recipients an eMail campaign was deployed to, vs. the number of clicks (only the unique clicks should be counted though, not the raw ones) – for example, out of 500 email subscribers segment that the email marketing campaign was  designed to be sent to (and presumably reached their Inboxes) say… 100 people clicked the link inside the email.

That would be a 20% email CTR (short for email click through rate) – seems to be pretty clear, at first thought – but is it?..

The answer is ‘No!’ and here is why:

Before the Click-Throughs, There Is The Mighty eMail Open Rate!

Perhaps (in fact, I’m almost sure… lol) not all the intended recipients have actually received the message, in the first place (read more about Inboxing vs. Spamboxing here).

out of the initially inboxed emails, only a certain part of the audience was receiving it ‘at the right time’ so to speak.

Usually, this happens because the email pops up into their Inbox at a time they work, or sleep, or whatever else they may be doing – anything else than watching their Inbox religiously at that exact time you, the email marketer, decided to send them your groundbreaking, Earth-shattering, one-in-a-million kind of message… :)

There is another piece of content you may want to read about that here:

“When Is The Perfect Time to Send an eMail?”

But let’s get back on tracks…

The trick is, even out of those people who would be seeing the message, only a few will open and even fewer will clickthru (clickthrough) the email  link.

Basically, I’m saying that out of the initially chosen segment of 500 people, probably only a much smaller fraction had the chance to see the email, decide to open and read it and finally follow the email call-to-action and click.

Say… 50 went to spam (not so outrageous these days, with all the ESPs fighting hard against spam, sometimes too hard, in my opinion. Far too often, silly anti-spam filters would block legitimately requested (subscribed to) newsletter messages (learn more about ‘how to avoid triggering spam filters’ on this post here).

Well, given the above, only 75 emails managed to hit the Inbox, in the first place, so basically the segment was, in fact, much smaller. So far, the click through rate quite jumped up a bit, isn’t it?

After all, 100/450 is 22.22% now, vs. the 20% as we calculated before. See what I mean?

But that is NOT all…

The Effective eMail Marketing Campaign Metric:

How to Properly Calculate eMail Click Through Rate

The standard click through rate formula is:


Moving on, one step further…

Once we’ve pruned the initial audience number down to only the Inboxed eMails, let’s take those remaining 450 emails and assume (for the sake of the example) that only 300 of them have actually been seen by the intended people.

The rest (150 emails out of the total 450 inboxed) were simply pushed down in the Inbox by the other emails received, between the moment your (our example) email has landed there and the moment the subscriber opens his email client software.

We both know there ARE other eMail Marketers out there in the wild www, deploying email campaigns too – not to mention the recipient’s daily stack of family + job/business related emails they normally get – don’t we?..

And of these, some people simply didn’t like the subject line of the email enough to incite them to open.

If you need to improve your email marketing ROI and increase click-through rates (even doubled or tripled CTR for some people…), you should start thinking very HARD about email subject lines – and a few more sneaky but ethical tricks up my sleeve – that I revealed in
my “Sexy eMail Marketing” Book here!

Well, where were we?
Ahhh…right! Got it…

So, they deleted the email or archived it
(hoping to read it later, which usually never happens).
Say…another 100 who didn’t open the emails, okay?.. Just for the sake of the ‘argument’!

We are now left with only 200 opened emails (500-50-150-100), reflected (but do they, really?) by the email open rate metric AND 100 click-throughs.

The new email marketing CTR metric looks different now:

100/200=50% CTR

Wow! Yaaaa…ay!

Your ESP (or AR company) like Aweber or GetResponse (or actually ANY other), would have given you the result of a 20% CTR in the SAME case.

The email marketing industry average click through rate calculation is deeply flawed, in my opinion!

The email CTR formula that I used in the previous (hypothetical example, of course) reflects much more accurately what really happens during the email marketing campaign deployment, from the very moment you hit the SEND button, till you start measuring the results and checking your stats (24 hours later or so).

It looks much better (and more ‘real’) than the measly percentages that your AR company gives you, right?..





  1. This is interesting. I am working on my email marketing right now. I will have to keep a look on the CTR.
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