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Recently we talked about why it’s important to monitor your open rate. Today we’re going to talk about something that is closely related to your open rate, and closely related to monitoring your open rate. And that is monitoring your click-through rate (also known as “CTR”).

Your click-through rate is, quite simply, a measure of how many people click on your links in a given mailing, expressed as a percentage. It is the number of people who click a link in your email divided by the number of total emails you sent. So if you send 100 pieces of email, and 10 people click on a link in the email, then your click-through rate (“CTR”) is 10%. (And, clicking the ‘unsubscribe’ link doesn’t count.)

If you aren’t tracking your click-through rate, you may be thinking right about now “Shyeah – way more people than 10% click on my mailings.” And you’d probably be wrong. In fact, we wouldn’t bet on it being higher than 1%, and if you don’t know for certain, neither should you. It’s too useful a metric to take for granted, and too easily determined to take a chance on just guessing.

Not only that, but even if you aren’t monitoring your click-through rate, the inbox providers and ISPs are. The average click-through rate across all industries is between 3% and 5%. Of course that’s a gross generalization, and click-through rate is highly dependent on several factors (more on that below). The important point for you to know is that If your click-through rate averages 1% or below 1% you are heading into deliverability issue territory and are at risk for being spam-foldered.

So, in fact, it turns out that CTR is a good predictor of the future of your deliverability, and if you don’t have a sense of your click-through rate, well, you should. It’s one way to have your finger on the pulse of the success of your email campaigns.

Here’s why: if people are not clicking through the links in your email, that means one of two things – either they are not even opening your email (see, again, why your open rates are important), or it means that they are opening your email (whew!) but they find nothing in it compelling enough for them to click on your links.

Of the two, open rate is the more critical one, but, again, click-through rate is a good leading indicator of the direction of your deliverability. The good news is that if your CTR is low, but your open rate is not (yet) low, then the low CTR is a wake-up call – one you should appreciate, and one you should heed. Because a low CTR almost certainly means that your email deliverability is going to head south. But you have had a warning, and you can do something about it.

Now, that ‘something’ that you need to do about it will be very fact and context specific. It may be that you need more enticing creative. It may be that you need better offers. Or a fatter incentive. That’s something that only you can determine. Similarly, “what is a good click-through rate” will depend greatly on what you are sending, to whom, and about what.

But the one thing that is universal is this: if your CTR isn’t where you think it should be, and especially if it’s falling, listen to that wakeup call, and be thankful for it.

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