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How to Increase CTR in Your Email Marketing Efforts

Email marketing is foundational to any strong marketing strategy. It’s often the first communication people receive from your brand and it continues to build rapport throughout the customer journey.

But getting in front of subscribers isn’t enough. They need to be engaged with your messaging and compelled to click and take action. Knowing how to measure and increase your CTR not only improves your email campaign performance, but keeps subscribers coming back for more.

Read on to learn about why email click-through rates are important, how to increase CTR with best practices, and ways to improve them with each send. 

What is email click-through rate?

Email click-through rate is the measurement of how many people clicked on a call-to-action (CTA) in an email This can take form as hyperlinked text or imagery. It is calculated by dividing the number of clicks by the number of emails delivered. 

Keep in mind, the formula may vary slightly depending on your email service provider (ESP). Some ESPs use unique clicks to determine email CTR while others count all clicks, which could include the same recipient returning for a second (or third) time.

What is a good email click-through rate (CTR)? 

There isn’t a set email click-through rate you should strive for. The average across all industries is 2.9% but, that can vary dramatically across verticals. 

To assess your email click-through rate’s success, you should also consider other factors like:

  • Email click-through rate benchmarks in your industry
  • Comparing to campaigns with similar objectives and CTRs
  • The size of the audience you are targeting
  • Email campaign budget

The best measure of success is tracking your own campaign performances and progress over time. By setting and measuring benchmarks your brand deems valuable, you can optimize your strategy accordingly.

Why is it important to increase your email CTR?

Once you know how to calculate email click-through rates and have set the appropriate benchmarks for your campaigns, you can start evaluating what’s working—and where you can improve.

Depending on your goals, increasing your email CTR may require small tweaks for big gains, while others may involve a complete overhaul. The important thing to remember is to continuously measure, evaluate, learn, and apply that information to the next campaign.

How to increase CTR in emails

Historical campaign data is the first step to improving email click-through rate. This should be parsed according to similarities in campaigns such as KPIs, audience size, and overall goal. From there, you can begin to examine ways to improve performance with each send. 

You can then break down your CTR analysis by three key components: 1) audience, 2) email content, and 3) design and layout.

Next, we outline ways to improve in each area to maximize your efforts and effectiveness. 


Data hygiene

Your audience can hold a wealth of information about your email campaign performance—or lack thereof.

Regularly checking your subscriber data and data hygiene requires discipline, governance, and proactivity with teams (and vendors) across your organization. But, it can pay off in dividends when it comes to email click-through rates and overall email performance.

Poor data hygiene can lead to poor engagement, deliverability, CTR, and return on investment (ROI)—none of which you have to risk. Inaccurate data can also cause you to lose your subscriber’s attention long before they consider engaging. 

Audience engagement 

If you aren’t sending relevant content to the right audience, at the right time, you’ve already lost the battle. In a world of overflowing inboxes and minimal attention spans, you have a finite amount of time to garner attention and drive action. 

In addition to measuring email click-through rates, take a step back and look at other metrics that will give you more insight into your audience and the content they are wanting to create—also known as audience-first communication

Some questions to ask to help hone in on your focus:

  • Are people opening your email? 
  • How much time are they spending once it’s open?
  • Is your CTA easy to see and understand?
  • Does your audience need to scroll to find your CTA?

Taking the time to analyze each of these can help uncover underlying hurdles and help you create stronger CTAs that are not only appealing, but prompt users to take action.


Subject lines and preview text 

Subject lines are the start of subscriber engagement—they get your subscribers to take action and open. That’s why testing and refining them can be a catalyst to drive readers to want to learn more and click for next steps.

But like most things, what works can vary based on your audience. Your subject line needs to stand out in a busy inbox and win coveted email opens, ultimately boosting your email click-through rates. 

An important thing to remember: subject lines don’t work alone. Preview text and subject lines work together to present a complete (and compelling) message.

To increase your email CTR, avoid using repetitive messages or phrases in your subject line and preview text and write them to support one another. Continue to test combinations of both in comparison with your CTR rate to measure their impact and determine the winner. 

Email personalization and segmentation

People want to be understood—and what better way to show subscribers they’re seen and heard than by customizing your messaging through segmentation and personalization to address their needs.

Demonstrating you truly know and understand customers shows them you value their business and want to improve their experience. This also shortens their path-to-purchase and improves your email campaign ROI. Customizing the experience through tailored CTA messaging, product offerings, or special offers can help increase conversions.

Design and layout

Email rendering

Email rendering verifies that your email will display correctly for any reader, regardless of email client, web client, or device they use to read your message. If your email isn’t showing properly, you not only have a bad user experience, but the likelihood of someone finding (and clicking) on your CTA goes down significantly. 

With more than 300,000 different potential renderings for an email, you need to ensure you’re testing every email sent. This helps reduce costly mistakes and boosts visibility—and clickability—for your email CTA.

Design considerations

While most email marketers know a great-looking CTA button does not translate to more clicks, considering key steps when creating your email CTA highlights the value of what happens beyond the click. 

Make sure you design CTAs with the following in mind and refer back if you’re in need of ways to increase conversions:

  • Consider what you want the audience to do and why they should do it
  • Use language that is direct so readers know how to interact
  • Design for all reading environments and adjust the size, placement, and language to reflect changes. Mobile readers should have smaller CTAs and be asked to “Tap here” to continue to learn more
  • Be aware of how many CTAs are included in the email and test to find the right balance 

Testing (and retesting) design options not only help you increase CTA performance, but also gives you insight into what they would like to see more of for your brand. Relying on email campaign performance data will help you deliver value—beyond the inbox. 

Dig deeper than the data your email platform gives you

Go beyond opens and clicks with Litmus Email Analytics. Better understand your audience and the performance of your email campaigns.