Looking for a way to increase sales? Your email click-through rate is the number you want to look at.

What is email click-through rate (CTR)?

The email click-through rate is the percentage of people who clicked on at least one link in your email.

To calculate it simply divide the number of total people who clicked by the number of delivered emails and multiple that ratio by 100 to arrive at your email CTR percentage.

Your industry can have a big impact on average click and read rates
If you just look at metrics across the board, you can get a good idea of how your emails should be performing:

Your average email open rate should be between 15-25%.
Your average click-through rate should be about 2.5%.
Your average click-to-open rate should be between 20-30%.

What is the difference between email open rates and email click through rates?

email click through rate vs email open rate calculation formula

Overall, both of these measurements will tell you how “effective” your email is.

What do open rates tell me?

Open rates, touch on deliverability as well as content.  For example, if your email doesn’t get delivered or lands in spam or in a “promotional” gmail folder, it may never get opened.  So you’ll have to make sure that your technical house is in order.

Open rates are also related to the effectiveness of your subject line.  Does it entice recipients to open the email?  If you notice open rates coming down, it could be because the subject line doesn’t deliver on its promise.

What do click through rates tell me?

Click through rates measure engagement with the message in your email.  In other words, did the recipient see enough value and interest in the email to click on the link(s) you’ve shared.

What is Click to Open Rate (CTOR)?

As if it couldn’t get more complicated! You’ll also want to look at your “click to open rate”. The the click-to-open rate and compares the number of people that opened the email to the number that actually clicked on the link.

Essentially, the CTR takes into account all of the in-box actions. By contrast, the CTOR only includes the actions of those who have opened the email. Thus it isn’t skewed by reactions to timing, subject lines, “from” fields, etc. In short, it only measures the performance of the content of the email.

CTR vs. CTOR: Which Email Metric Should You Track?

How to Increase Your Email Open Rates and Click Through Rates

Make sure that your emails are supporting your chosen marketing strategy

If your emails aren’t getting the results you’re looking for, the first place to look is your marketing strategy. Which marketing strategy did you choose;

  • Content marketing: Your emails should be promoting specific content and you should be linking to specific content and driving traffic to that content.
  • Paid advertising: If you’re driving traffic to a specific landing page, then your emails should be providing additional information about the products or services you are promoting on that page. You can link to related products or services, you can provide buyer guides and information to help them make a buying decision.
  • Direct Marketing: These emails should be more of a sales conversation, encourage replies and feedback, link to guides and content to help your customer choose you.

Too often, small business owners are looking at email as a separate marketing strategy. This is a mistake and if your open rates are low and click through rates are low, it could be because your emails aren’t supporting your chosen marketing strategy.

So, take a step back and look at your marketing strategy and consider how you want your emails to support that strategy.

Teach your email list to open and click

Email click through rates don’t just spontaneously increase. You have to teach your list to open your emails and ultimately click on the links inside these emails.

If you already have an email list that hasn’t been engaging with your emails. You’ll want to clean that email list and remove the people who have never engaged with your emails.


I know, you worked hard to collect these emails. Just remember, if they haven’t opened your emails over the last year or six months — they don’t really exist.

Run a re-engagement campaign

So, let’s get back to cleaning that list and seeing if you have any people on this list who might want to stay on that list. You do this by running a re-engagement campaign.

A re-engagement campaign consists of about four emails. Each email is very personal by design. This is your last shot at saving any of the email subscribers you’ve collected, so make it count. This campaign is designed to run for about a week. Send each email about two days apart.

In your email marketing system, create a tag or a list called “Engaged” or “Re-engaged” and every time someone opens or clicks on an email, send them to this list.

Here’s a guide to get you started.

  • Email #1: The purpose of this email is to see if they are engaged at all. Use a subject like “Knock Knock… Are you there?” Share a link to an interesting piece of content to see if they click on it. If they do, they are worth saving. if not…
  • Email #2: This goes to the people who still haven’t opened anything. The subject should be something like “Am I bugging you?” or “Is this your best email?” In this email, you’ll be a bit more direct. “It’s been 90 days since you’ve opened an email. I’d like to update your information”. Include a link to a “re-engaged” opt in form — and if they update their info, they are in and go into the same list as the folks who engaged with email #1.
  • Email #3: Now you are moving toward finding out what’s missing for this email recipient. Use a subject line like “Are you stuck” or “How can I help?” Then in the email, include a link to a simple 1-question survey. The question could be whatever you like. I usually simply ask “What’s your biggest challenge today?” or “What problem are you stuck on today?” or “What are you trying to do and getting stuck on?” You get the idea. If they respond, tag them as being “engaged” and send them to your engaged list.
  • Email #4: This will be the last email you send. The subject here might be “I guess we’re breaking up” or “My last email” or something final like that. Give them one last chance to click on something, take the survey or respond in any way. And if they don’t, simply remove them from your list.

The rest of these steps are all targeted to this re-engaged list.

Send emails from a real person (preferably the CEO)

Do you use a company name or your personal name?

While company names are great for branding, incorporating your own name with it is a great tactic. Using your name @ XYZ Corporation gives your readers more of a connection with you.

Look, as a small business owner you have the advantage of being an accessible human being.  Large companies don’t get that luxury.  So, use it to your advantage.

Create a personal account from which you can send emails to your customers and prospects. It doesn’t have to be your private business email.  Just make it an email with your name in it.

Even though you might have someone monitoring and responding to these emails, your customer is left with the impression that they have a relationship with YOU.  And that matters.

Use Powerful and Descriptive Subject Lines

Although subject lines are typically about 50 characters, the impact extends far beyond that simple character number. Your subject line should intrigue, compel and entice readers to open your email. In order to increase your bottom line, your open rate is one the quickest and easiest things to alter.

Tell a story.

If you are offering a product or service for sale a story about how that particular product has helped you is highly effective. Stories are engaging. Readers relate to stories because they are non-intrusive and good for mental images.

Use a post script.

A post script or P.S. is a unique way of telling your readers that this is the last chance to take advantage of what I’m offering. And, here are the reasons why you should click. A P.S. can mean the difference between someone clicking on your offer and not.

Create a sense of urgency.

Urgency entices people to act quickly. If you’ve seen a sale ending today, doesn’t that make you more inclined to purchase that item today, rather than waiting till tomorrow? The same is true with emails.

Remove distractions.

While colored fonts and pretty styles are fun to play with, all they do is distract the reader from your message.

Use numbers.

Using numbers conveys exactness. They also draw the eye and attract attention. Try using numbers in your subject line and watch your open rates go up. Additionally, using exact numbers in the body of your message gives people a concrete fact something that is specific and actionable for example, dates, prices and times.

Ask a question.

Surprisingly, just asking a simple question in your message can yield huge feedback and engagement from your readers. Ask them a question about something you wrote the engagement means high click-throughs!

Put your call-to-action at the top

Positioning your call to action near the top of your email message gives readers the opportunity to get right to the info. Also include another one further down the message.

And finally, offer compelling content.? Sending an email message just for the sake of sending something out not only wastes your time, but your subscribers time as well. And even further, sending worthless messages may lead them to unsubscribe from your list altogether.

Higher Click-through Rate Means Higher Sales!

If there’s one reason your click-through rate deserves some attention, it’s for the increase in profits. Not only does it mean higher profits for you, but your customers will appreciate the informative and engaging emails.

Even a slight increase in your email click-through rate can make a huge difference in your bottom line.

Try a few different methods out and let me know what your results are!