Aug 21, 2012

Email CTR Up, Open Rates Down?

by: in Email

This analogy may be just a confusing as Usher’s infamous “Peace up, A-town down”, but it definitely holds more relevant meaning than this lack luster club hit.  In a time where mobile is king and social media is queen (all sexism aside), email marketing is still in the mix. As much of an annoyance as we may think it is, the fact of the matter is people still use email and still subscribe to email lists. So what is the real meaning behind CTR (click through rate) being up, and open rates being down? Some experts believe that multiple technological factors could be driving open rates down such as html imagery blocking and email sorting features. While these factor may have some impact on open rates being down since 2009 (21.3%) to today (19.9%), I’m not entirely convinced.  I would dare to say the average email user doesn’t even know how to block html imagery or uses priority email sorting.


CTR is a better metric to use rather than open rate to measure the success of a campaign because it reflects consumer engagement rather than just a number that could reflect an accidental open. In 2009 CTR averaged around 4.5% and today average around 5.4%. The only way to explain why open rate is down but click through rate is up, is a simple two word answer – relevant content. Even though users are opening less of emails, the ones they are opening, they are connecting with. This means that email marketers are starting to catch on. Give the people what they asked for! Consumers usually fall under two type of subscribing actions, to get offers or to get news. As companies learn to segment their content, consumers will be more apt to open and link to the content inside the email.

Email content is not exclusive to the main message inside the mail, but also to the subject line. In fact, companies would be surprised how much consumers pay attention to the subject line. A study conducted by Exact Target found that 69% of consumers based their opening decision on the subject line alone. That means email marketers need to put just as much thought into the subject as the main content inside the email. Best practices include keeping it short (even shorter for mobile), using keywords, evoking exclusivity and/or urgency, and using non-branded subject lines.

Consumers get a lot of email; just make sure that you’re creating content that will be meaningful and useful to them to ensure that they will open and link to the content you’ve created. Until next time…Peace Up, A-Town Down (I still don’t know what that means).