“That which is measured improves.” – Karl Pearson

What’s more important, open rate vs CTR vs CTOR? How do you know if your percentages are good? And what on earth is CTOR?

We will answer all these questions and tell you all about the difference between open rates vs CTR vs CTOR. We’ll help you move beyond the numbers and figure out exactly what’s working – and what’s not – in your email marketing campaign.

In this article, we’ll help you learn about open rates vs CTR vs CTOR:

  1. Open Rates, CTRs and CTORs
  2. How to calculate these (and why your method really matters!)
  3. What counts as a ‘good’ rate
  4. How to use these numbers to hone your email marketing campaign

Let’s begin!

Open Rate vs CTR vs CTOR: What’s The Difference?

Before we get into how to use these figures, let’s quickly clarify what they all mean.

  1. Open Rate is the percentage of people who opened your email in the first place.
  2. Click-Through Rate (CTR) is the percentage of people who clicked a link in your email.
  3. Click-to-Open Rate (CTOR) also measures how many people clicked on a link; however, it only takes into account people who got as far as opening your email. It doesn’t include everyone on your email list or all the emails that were delivered.

It’s really important that you understand exactly how you’re getting to these numbers because the way you calculate these rates will tell you something very different about the effectiveness of your email campaign – as we’ll explain in a moment.

What Do These Numbers Tell You?

Let’s start with open rates. This is pretty straightforward: you divide the number of people who opened your email by either the total number of emails you sent out or the number of emails that were delivered. You can see already, though, that each choice tells you something slightly different.

Dividing by the total number of emails sent (including bounced emails) gives you an idea of how healthy your list is overall and whether it needs a good spring clean, whereas dividing by delivered emails means you’re focussing more on whether or not your subject line/segmentation is successful.

Things get a bit more complicated when you start looking at CTR. Again, this can be calculated in a bunch of different ways. For starters, you have to decide to divide total clicks by the total number of emails sent or by the total number of emails delivered.

You also need to choose between measuring Individual CTR and Holistic CTR. Individual CTR measures how many people clicked through, whereas holistic CTR tells you how many clicks took place.

For example, let’s say you send an email to 100 people, 10 people click through, but all of those 10 people click two links each (20 clicks in total). Your Individual CTR would be 10% because 10% of people clicked through. Your Holistic CTR would be 20%, because that 10% doubled their value by clicking two links.

Again, when you come to analyze how well your campaign is working, both of these numbers are useful in different ways. In the example above, you might conclude that when you send the right content to the right people; they love it – but you need to be more discerning about who you email with this content in the first place.

Then, you need to make a decision about whether to look at CTR vs CTOR. As we’ve seen, the former measures how many people in total clicked through, from the whole campaign.

So, if you send out 100 emails, 20 people open them, and ultimately you get 5 clicks, that’s a CTR of 5%. CTOR, on the other hand, only takes into account the number of people that opened the email; so in this case, your CTOR would be 25%, because a quarter of people who actually opened the email then clicked through.

Again, these help you to diagnose different problems at different points along the chain. A low CTR but a high CTOR could mean your emails are well crafted but you’re wasting a lot of effort sending emails to people who don’t want them. A low CTOR, on the other hand, suggests that your emails are falling flat once people open them.

What’s a Good Open Rate / CTR / CTOR?

Ooh, that’s a big question. Across the board, open rates for email marketing campaigns hover around 25%, and average CTRs are around 4%. For special interest groups, hobbies and so on, you probably want to aim a bit higher. A good CTOR is around 20-30%.

How to Use These Numbers

As we’ve seen, your open rate, CTR and CTOR (and your method of calculating these) each tell you different things. By comparing these numbers, you start to build up a complete story of how your email campaign performs at every stage.

In order to keep growing and improving, It’s incredibly important to get complete and accurate numbers for every step.

Make sure you’re using an email marketing platform that collates this information about open rates vs CTR vs CTOR for you and presents it in a way that’s clear and easy to understand. That way, you can forget about the math and focus on honing your strategy.

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