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The other day I got a phone call from one of our power-users with a question that I could not immediately answer. She asked me, “when sending out my email newsletters, which of these three makes more sense to look at – click-through-rates, click-to-open-rates or general open-rates?”

Although they all sound similar, they are very different. And it depends on a few things…

What do you want to measure?

  • The effectiveness of your subject field?
  • From Name? (e.g. no-reply@…, info@…, etc.)
  • Best time to send newsletters?
  • The content of your campaigns?
  • A general assessment?

OR Open-Rate

The open rate measures how many contacts have opened the campaign.

  • The open-rate evaluates all the factors that apply to your campaign before it is opened:
    • From name
    • Newsletter send time
    • Subject field
    • General engagement

The recipients have not seen the actual content of the campaign. Instead, they have seen the email in their inbox. The recipients can from here see who the email is from, what time it came through, a small pre-header of the content, and nothing else. With open-rates there is no engagement – it is similar to being left on “Read”.

Ever been left on “Read”?

CtOR Click-to-Open-Rate

The CtOR measures how many of the contacts have opened the campaign and also clicked on it.

  • It evaluates the actual content of the campaign
    • Placement of links, images and buttons, text, headings, etc.
    • Relevance of the campaign – segmentation
    • Whether the campaign is easy-to-read, inviting and manageable

We tend to see a lot of users make these beautiful email campaigns and afterwards think about how they should optimize for mobile devices. Well, if you have a CtOR of 60-80% on mobile, it would make a lot more sense to turn it around and create a clear mobile campaign. In the majority of cases, your campaign will look really nice on a desktop-view as well.

How my mom thinks I use my phone, anyway…

CTR Click-Through-Rate

The CTR measures how many contacts have clicked on something in the campaign.

  • It is a general assessment of all the aforementioned factors
    • Subject field
    • Placement of links, images and buttons, text, headings, etc.
    • Relevance of the campaign – segmentation
    • Timing of the newsletter
    • Etc.

CTR is good for providing a general assessment of your marketing, but it is not good for learning what you should do about our campaigns if it is not performing as well as you’d like. There are simply too many factors, and you should instead look to Open-Rates or Click-to-Open-Rates to get the most out of your email marketing. 

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