KPIs & metrics

How to Improve your Email Marketing CTOR

Nearly 70% of marketers use email marketing to reach out to their customers. Undoubtedly, most of them use CTR (click-through rate) to measure the effectiveness of their campaigns. However, CTOR (click-to-open rate) is an even more valuable metric extracted from email marketing data.

Whatagraph marketing reporting tool
Benediktas Kazlauskas

Aug 11 2021 7 min read

Whatagraph marketing reporting tool

Table of Contents

  • Email marketing fundamentals
  • What is CTOR (click-to-open rate)?
  • How to increase the click-to-open rate
  • The ultimate question — CTOR vs. CTR: Which one is better?
  • Bottom line

And while an email's click-through rate is a great success metric, it does not tell the whole story. To get an accurate picture of how the email marketing campaigns perform, marketers should get familiar with the CTOR.

Email marketing fundamentals

Before learning about click-to-open rate, marketers should know all about the metrics commonly used in email marketing. There is a great chance that you are already using them to measure the campaign’s performance. However, if not, here’s two of the most popular email marketing metrics:

  • Email open rate is the percentage of users who have opened a promotional email letter. For example, if the marketer launched a campaign and sent it to 1000 people and 320 people opened the email, the open rate would be 32%.

To calculate the open email rate, marketers can use the following formula:

Number of Emails Read / Number of Delivered Emails × 100 = Email Open Rate

Of course, many things can influence the open rate. However, the industry’s average is in the range of 20% and 40%.

  • Another email marketing metric is Click-through rate, which measures how many people have clicked on a link or linked picture in the email.

The CTR can be calculated by taking the number of clicks the email received divided by the number of times the email campaign was successfully delivered and multiplied by 100. For example, if the email campaign was sent to 1000 users, 200 emails bounced back, and 250 people clicked it, the click-through rate is around 31%.

Using reporting tools can save some precious time and cut labor-intensive routine tasks such as open and click-through rates calculations to the minimum. Data reporting and monitoring tool automatically gathers and visualizes the email marketing campaign’s data, so all that’s left to do — make valuable data-driven insights.

What is CTOR (click-to-open rate)?

The email marketing metric often referred to as the “secret metric” is CTOR. The easiest way to understand it is to think of those who opened the email, what percentage of users found the content inside interesting.

The CTOR can be calculated by dividing the unique clicks by unique opens and multiplying by 100. For example, if the campaign receives 90 unique clicks and 400 opens, the CTOR is around 22%. A good click-to-open rate is considered between 20% and 30%.

This metric is based on the number of unique opens and clicks. CTOR is a good indicator of how relevant the provided content is to subscribers. If the marketer presents engaging content, photos and links, users will want to learn more.

However, it’s imperative not to set yourself within the boundaries of the average rates. Other companies may have a bigger audience, operate in a completely different industry and have a comparatively smaller or bigger subscriber base.

How to increase the click-to-open rate

The ultimate goal of the marketer — to drive more engagement and sales towards the business. Undoubtedly, CTOR is the metric to look after and here are some tips on how to improve it:

  • Calculating average click-to-open rate for every email campaign type. Some of the email campaigns are just not as interesting as others. It’s important to find the norm for every different email marketing campaign type, so the marketer knows what average rate they are trying to increase.
  • Incorporating more personalization. It doesn’t matter if the campaign is targeted at industry professionals or eCommerce shoppers. They want to receive emails that are relevant to them. Using previously collected user data, such as viewed products or pages, and using that information to build better emails will result in a higher CTOR. Some opt to use a temporary email to avoid spammy and unwanted messages.
  • Giving more attention to the details. Going the extra mile and putting up some finishing touches on the email campaign can provide benefits. Experimenting with different subject lines, adjusting the color scheme and design of the campaign can lead to an increased click-to-open rate.
  • CTA should be the star of the campaign. Including a call to action, which stands out in the email, leads the subscriber to learn more about the business’s product or service.
  • Running A/B tests and measuring the performance data can also help optimize, run better campaigns and drive CTOR higher than the average. A/B tests of similar campaigns can highlight the parts of the email marketing campaign that ask for improvement.
  • Making the campaign eye-scannable. Most subscribers are busy and don’t have much time to read all of the campaign’s content. By making the content more scannable and putting up the most important information first so that the users can get key points of the email can work wonders on the click-to-open rate.

The ultimate question — CTOR vs. CTR: Which one is better?

Despite the differences between CTOR and CTR, both email marketing metrics are essential. While the marketers should always use conversions to measure the campaign’s success, CTR and CTOR are reasonable backup metrics.

Both CTR and CTOR are useful to see roughly how interesting the campaign seems to the subscribers.

Click-through rate is a top-of-funnel metric, while click-to-open rate measures everything from the middle of the funnel. CTR faces an uphill battle as it measures whether an email marketing campaign is cutting through the noise of the subscriber’s inbox. CTOR is for looking at an engaged audience and seeing if the campaign’s content is valuable.

Most marketing professionals use reporting tools to reduce labor-intensive tasks such as data aggregation, monitoring, and manual reporting. Popular email marketing software such as SendinBlue also have reporting capabilities built-in, but reporting tools provide more functionality and allow marketers to plug in their multiple marketing channels, including software like MailChimp, and effortlessly create easy-to-understand, visual performance reports.

Bottom line

Email marketing might be one of the most established and advanced channels in the digital marketing era, but it’s constantly changing. Clickthrough rate ruled as the excellent engagement metric for most of email marketing’s history, but the click-to-open rate is proving to be a lot more revealing and insightful than its ancestor.

However, it’s important to remember that the data-backed insights are the ones who are guiding the marketer towards success.

Published on Aug 11 2021

Whatagraph marketing reporting tool


Benediktas Kazlauskas

Benediktas is a detail-oriented writer with a passion for marketing and technology. Using his vast experience in Business Management and Sales, he approaches every blog with the same idea: How to make readers come back for more?