Are Your Email Click Through Rates Legitimate?

Posted by | April 02, 2014 | | No Comments

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Written by Troy Burk, published by Chief Marketer Magazine on April 1, 2014. 

When it comes to measuring the effectiveness of your email marketing efforts, the click through rate (CTR) is a key metric in determining success. But are you measuring the “right” CTR? There is still some debate about how to properly measure the click through rate of email communications.

The direct mail industry is very clear about their metrics. For example, they know if they send 1000 pieces of direct mail and 100 people respond, they’ve earned a 10% success rate. It’s easy to figure out, because it’s based on returns/responses/phone calls, or whatever metric they’ve set up. Responses ÷ pieces sent = success rate.

Except an email’s CTR isn’t as always as cut and dried as that.

One thing that is confusing is that email service providers vary on how they measure their CTRs.  Is it based on emails sent, emails delivered, or emails opened?  Some calculate it by dividing the total number of clicks by the number of emails delivered. If you deliver 1,000 emails, and you get 100 clicks, you get a 10% CTR.

Others measure it by dividing the number of emails delivered by the number of unique subscribers who clicked through. This means that if people click more than one link you only count one recipient. If you deliver 1,000 emails, and 50 people click two links each (100 clicks), you get a 5% CTR.

Neither are wrong or better than the other. They’re both important, and can give you a good picture of how your email marketing efforts are performing over time.  What’s most important is that you apply the same formula to your email campaigns consistently over time.   When looking at industry benchmark studies, be sure to understand how this is calculated to help you understand if you are on par with the findings.

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Troy Burk is the CEO and founder of Right On Interactive. He is a recognized thought leader and speaker on the topics of lifecycle marketing, marketing automation, lead scoring and nurturing, and email marketing. Troy earned his bachelor’s degree from Ball State University. He lives in Indianapolis with his wife and three children where he serves on the Greater Indianapolis Chamber of Commerce’s Membership Marketing Committee and is involved with youth sports.

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