Is CTR no longer active? Why are email marketers focusing on CTOR instead? - Nummero

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 clickthrough rate.

The open rate measures the share of recipients who opened your email, which helps you gauge the performance of your subject line and preview. 

Your clickthrough rate (CTR) measures the share of recipients who clicked on the links in your email against the entire number of subscribers who received the email.

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This means that a coffee open rate can dilute your clickthrough rate, albeit an outsized percentage of the recipients who opened your email clicked through to your website. With this in mind, your clickthrough rate might not be the simplest indicator of engagement.

So, how does one accurately measure your email campaigns’ true levels of engagement? Cue the click-to-open rate, or CTOR.

What is a click-to-open rate (CTOR)?

A click-to-open rate measures the share of unique recipients who clicked on a link after opening your email. Most email marketers prefer measuring engagement against CTOR because this metric only accounts for the recipients who opened and skimmed their emails.

At Nummero, our email marketing team measures their campaigns’ engagement against CTOR because it’s a transparent indicator of resonance.

How To Calculate the CTOR

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

Let’s use an example: You send an email to 1,000 subscribers.

 Twenty subscribers open the e-mail and there are a complete 15 clicks. Here’s how you discover the CTOR: (15/20) x 100 = 75%. This can mean that your CTOR is extremely high, with the bulk of subscribers who opened the email clicking on the links.

When using this formula, it’s important to only count unique opens and clicks. as an example, if one among your subscribers opens your email within the morning and clicks on a link. 

Then, later that night, they are going back to the e-mail and click on thereon again. You wouldn’t want that subscriber to be counted twice, as that might muddle the info. 

That’s why the CTOR must only account for unique opens and clicks.

Now that you simply have skills to calculate the CTOR, you’ll want to line benchmarks for your emails.

 A 2020 Campaign Monitor report found that the typical click-to-open rate across all industries is 14.3%. Brands in land, design, 

and construction industries see the very best CTOR averages at 17.7%. An equivalent report shows that food and beverage brands experience rock bottom CTOR at 8.9%.

Use these numbers as benchmarks for your campaigns.


CTR vs. CTOR: Which one is better?

According to Echt-Wilson, CTOR is arguably the simplest metric for measuring an email campaign’s resonance. 

But this rate can reveal even more insights about your email marketing, helping your team understand the way to improve your campaigns.

“If an email isn’t opened, then it’s hard to understand how we will move the needle in terms of engagement,” 

Clickthrough rate remains a valuable metric to trace though, especially once you need a holistic view of your email’s performance.

“I check out clickthrough rate to urge a high-level understanding of how my email performed overall,” says. “Since CTR accounts for deliverability, subject line performance, and the way your email’s content performed, it is a good metric to see at once I need a fast glance at how my email performed overall.”

How to Improve Your CTOR

Whether you’ve been tracking your CTOR for a short time or decide to start, there’ll always be room for improvement. Here are a couple of steps required to reinforce your CTOR:

  1. Use CTA buttons.

A great email features a few elements: engaging copy, enticing images, and compelling calls to action. And in an email filled with text, button CTAs are great attention-catchers.

You can use text-based CTAs, like “Click here for more information.” 

However, some data reports suggest that buttons can cause higher clickthrough rates. In one A/B test, Campaign Monitor saw a 28% increase in conversions by employing a button rather than a text link.

Here are a couple of tips to stay in mind when using buttons:

Keep the prompt short: one to 3 words.

Use action-based verbs, like “learn,” “discover,” “find,” and “start.”

Place your CTA after presenting the offer, not before.

Lastly, your CTA button should be prominent enough to face out, but not so big that it hinders the general user experience. If you’re unsure, do a squint test to make sure it’s good.

  1. Re-evaluate your offers.

One of the explanations why your click-to-open rate could also be below is because your offers don’t align together with your audience’s interests. 

you’ll find that subscribers are opening up your email but as they scroll, none of the links appeal to them.

There are a couple of ways to deal with this:

Segment your email list – this may make sure you deliver emails that your subscribers are curious about. Your leads shouldn’t be receiving equivalent emails as your customers. 

They’re in several stages of the funnel and should have different motivations.

Send a survey – If you’re unsure what offers your audience wants to ascertain, who better to ask than the source itself? 

you’ll also include link triggers within the email survey which will segment subscribers who supported their answers.

  1. stick with one CTA.

There are a couple of tactics you’ll use when it involves email CTAs. 

Some brands like to employ multiple CTAs in their emails, leaving it up to subscribers to click on the one they find most interesting. 

You’ll see this often in emails for retail offers. The thought is that more CTAs equals more opportunities to extend CTR.

One drawback of this approach is choice overload. It happens when consumers have difficulty choosing because they’re faced with too many options.

With this in mind, consider testing one CTA. If there’s just one desired action, you’ll increase your CTOR by using this focused method.

However, confine mind that this approach might not be appropriate for all campaigns. Experiment, A/B test, and adjust as required.



Email marketing could be one of the foremost established marketing channels within the digital era, but it’s always adapting. 

Clickthrough rate reigned because of the superior engagement metric for much of email marketing’s history, but the click-to-open rate is proving to be tons more revealing and insightful than its predecessor.

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