What is CTOR in Email Marketing? Everything You Should Know

Hand clicking on laptop to show what is ctor in email marketing

There are two factors we first look at to measure how effective our email marketing strategy is: open rate and click-through rate (CTR). Open rates refer to the percentage of recipients that open your emails. CTR refers to the percentage of recipients that click on the links in emails you send.

Except for your email content, open rates and CTR metrics show how each email component performs. So, which metric measures the content then? 

CTOR does.

CTOR (click-to-open-rate) measures the number of unique clicks against unique opens — it determines how many people find your content interesting and click the links in your emails. Note that CTOR considers the total number of unique opens, meaning it does not consider the clicks that come from the second, third, or any further opens a recipient might perform. Only one — unique — open counts. And only one click counts. 

When you understand the basics of CTOR, you can use it to improve your content for higher conversions. To do that, let’s first understand how to use CTOR, the differences between varied email metrics, and the best practices to follow.

What is CTOR, and How to Use it?

CTOR is a metric used to test how effective your email content is. It gives you a detailed overview of how recipients engage with your email content, including the number of clicks on your CTA. 

If you have a higher CTOR, it means that your recipients find your content readable, relevant, and interesting. On the contrary, a low CTOR means you need to focus on creating relevant content to engage your audience.

You can use the formula below to calculate the CTOR of your emails:

Unique clicks / unique opens * 100 

By unique opens and clicks, we consider the number of individuals who take a particular action once. For instance, if a recipient opens an email at 10 am and clicks on a link, then opens the same email at 5 pm and clicks on the same link, only one click and one open will be counted. 

By measuring unique clicks and opens, you can reduce calculation errors and improve data quality.

Let’s learn to understand the relevance of CTOR in email marketing.

Why is CTOR Important For Your Email Marketing?

Ultimately, your goal is to have more conversions — you want more people to click on your links and make purchases. For that to happen, you need to have a higher CTOR to analyze your content quality, customer interaction, and engagement. 

Here’s why CTOR shouldn’t be overlooked in your email marketing campaigns:

  • Measures engagement: When you measure email campaign metrics, you’ll understand how customers are engaging with your emails. Here, CTOR can help you identify content gaps and improve your email performance.
  • Helps build relevant information: If you have more than one email list, it means you have different audience segments. To help you understand their behavior, CTOR can provide insights into preferences, and past interactions, and help you build more relevant content.
  • Emphasizes quality: CTOR is the only email metric that measures the quality of your clicks and opens – by focusing on content quality and interaction, it also indicates your email list health.
  • Helps improve email content: Low-quality or irrelevant content can cause subscribers to lose interest, decreasing open rates. But when you observe your CTOR and improve your content quality, you’ll be able to notice an improvement in other email metrics such as opens, clicks, and conversions. 
  • Helps personalize content: CTOR provides insights into which audience segmentation is the most engaged with your emails. You can use this information to create tailor-made content and include personalized messages that resonate with each audience group.
  • Improves A/B testing: Using CTOR as a primary metric for testing email content such as subject lines, CTAs, etc. enables you to know which variation is compelling to your recipients.
  • Helps measure ROI: When your CTOR percentage is better, it indicates that your other email metrics are also performing well. This means your recipients are taking action on your emails, increasing the chances of a higher ROI from your campaigns.
  • Helps improve campaigns consistently: If you’re constantly refining your email marketing strategies, you can use CTOR to ensure your campaigns are performing well. When you improve CTOR, you’ll notice consistent results with your email campaigns.
  • Measures customer satisfaction: Your emails will perform better when you give your audiences what they need. And CTOR can help you measure customer satisfaction by identifying which type of content your recipients prefer.

A good CTOR is an indication that your email campaigns are performing well, and setting a benchmark will help you adapt and refine your campaigns accordingly. 

What is a Good CTOR Rate?

The average click-to-open rate is around 11%. However, your CTOR could vary depending on your industry and audience. As per the industry standards, a good CTOR 

is anywhere between 10% – 15%. To help you fully understand the concept of email metrics, here are the open and click rate statistics per industry:

IndustryOpen rate CTRCTOR
Financial Services20.01%4.29%21.45%
Internet Marketing 17.62%1.81%10.26%
Retail 24.84%2.16%8.71%
Technology 22.94%2.86%12.45%
Restaurants & Food32.04%3.51%10.95%
Average CTR, open rates, and CTOR across industries


Factors to Consider When Evaluating Your CTOR

  • Specific Industry Benchmark: Although an ideal CTOR rate stands at 15%, it is important to know your industry benchmarks. This makes it easier to compare your efforts and grow your email marketing campaigns the right way.
  • Diverse Audiences: The type of audiences on your email lists also contributes to how you evaluate your CTOR. This is true if you have different email lists and varied audience segmentations. 
  • Campaign Goals: Evaluating CTOR also depends on the type of your email campaign goals. For example, do you want to drive traffic to your website, nurture leads, or provide information?
  • A/B Test: When you test different email formats and content, you can measure your CTOR easily. This way, you can know what works and create personalized email campaign templates for different audiences.

Using CTOR as a guide, you can focus on improving your email content and audience engagement and achieve better results. When you simultaneously use CTOR with other email metrics, you’ll be able to optimize your campaigns better. 

Now, let’s look at how CTOR is different from CTR.

CTR vs CTOR, Which is More Effective?

CTR and CTOR measure different aspects of email campaigns, and deciding which one to use depends on your focus areas. For example, if you want to measure the effectiveness of the subject line in your email, then CTR is beneficial. But CTOR is the way to go if you want to measure the impact of your email content as a whole.

Let’s look at two scenarios to understand how they differ:

  1. Scenario A: You email 100 people on your email list. Out of the 100, only 10 people open your emails, and 5 click on links. 
  2. Scenario B: Of the 100 emails, 30 people open your emails, and 10 click on the links.

CTR in scenario A will be 5% and in the scenario B — 10%. 

CTOR in scenario A will be 50% (5 clicks divided by 10 opens), and in scenario B — 33.3% (10 clicks divided by 30 opens).

The rates measure different things, and a good CTR doesn’t imply a good CTOR and vice-versa.

In essence, CTR tells you if you’re targeting the right audiences, and CTOR shows how well the recipients engage with your content.

Let’s break down the basic distinctions between them:

Email MetricWhat does it measure?Effectiveness of email campaignsUseful for 
CTR Measures the percentage of recipients who clicked on any link, out of all emails sentUseful for measuring the initial response to your emailsEffective to drive traffic to websites, landing pages, etc.
CTORMeasures the percentage of unique clicks and opensEvaluates email content, design, and copy and if it created interest in subscribersShows how interesting your content is

Another common metric is the open rate — it determines how your audiences respond to your email campaigns, and here’s why it matters. 

Why is Open Rate Important?

The open rate shows the percentage of recipients who opened your emails after you send campaigns. It shows how well your subscribers react to your subject lines, which is likely the first element they notice.

Here’s a simple formula to calculate open rate:

The number of unique opens/total number of emails sent * 100 

There is a difference between unique and total open rate, but the only one that can give useful information is the one measuring unique opens. Tracking total opens has no practical value in email marketing. 

Further, open rates can be misleading when you don’t consider other email metrics. Eventually, it doesn’t matter how many people open your emails if they don’t enter your sales funnel and convert into paying customers. Sometimes, your emails can have high open rates but low conversions. In this case, knowing how well your campaign performs can become a challenge. With open rates, you can understand the trust level with your brand, and the type of content your subscribers want.

Open rates, CTR, and CTOR help you evaluate the success of your email campaigns. But before you can implement these metrics, you must know if your emails reached the recipients’ inboxes in the first place. It’s called email deliverability and is interlinked with other email metrics, such as CTOR.

How Does Email Deliverability Help CTOR?

Email deliverability rate is the percentage of emails that land in your recipient’s inboxes. It ensures your emails don’t get diverted to spam folders, bounce, or become undeliverable. When you have a high ​​deliverability rate, it means you’re following the best practices of email marketing, and maintaining a good sender reputation

With higher deliverability, you’ll be able to notice an increase in CTOR as well. They go hand-in-hand because:

  • Recipient Reach: If the emails never reach the recipients’ inboxes, they will not have a chance to open and engage with your emails. It’ll further make it difficult to measure CTOR because there’s no data to track. 
  • Quality engagement: Having a high deliverability rate ensures that your emails are reaching the right audience, at the right time. In turn, it makes it easier to know the quality of your engagement.
  • Email list quality: When you have high email deliverability, it indicates that your email lists are clean and you’re sending emails to active addresses. By regularly cleaning your email lists, you’ll be able to send emails to a more relevant audience and increase your engagement rates.

While all these aspects are important to maintaining your email marketing strategy, list hygiene is the most crucial. A quality email list will help you score higher open rates, click-through rates, and conversion rates. That’s why we recommend using our formula!

High Inbox Placement Rates With Campaign Refinery 

At Campaign Refinery, we continuously enhance deliverability, open and engagement rates for our customers through our effective email list cleaning tool that catches:

  1. Typos – addresses with spelling errors such as Yahoo.com,
  2. Invalid accounts – accounts that do not exist,
  3. Spam traps – email addresses set up to catch spammers,
  4. Disposable addresses – valid for a short time, possibility of bounces,
  5. Dormant accounts – inactive email addresses,
  6. Serial complainers – contacts that regularly complain.

The automatic list-cleaning feature removes harmful emails before you send them. And we continually monitor your emails to maintain higher deliverability rates and sender reputation. With this feature, you’ll be able to see a drastic improvement in your deliverability and open rates, as much as 600% more emails to the inbox!

To sum up, regularly cleaning your lists and optimizing your email campaigns will improve your CTOR rates and deliverability. What else can you do to improve your email performance? – Follow best practices.

Email Marketing Best Practices For Higher CTOR

We have outlined the best email marketing practices to help you achieve better open rates, CTR, CTOR, and conversions.

  1. Email List Segmentation
    To send targeted and relevant content, segment your email list based on customer demographics such as age, gender, location, etc. 
  2. Personalization
    Personalized email content makes your emails more engaging and increases open rates. Include recipients’ names and relevant content based on their past interactions. For example, know their purchase history and create customized offers and deals.
  3. Compelling Subject Lines
    It is no surprise that recipients decide to open emails based on the subject lines. Craft a catchy and relevant subject line to boost open rates, engagement, and CTOR.
  4. Mobile Optimization
    Although mobile optimization does not equal higher CTOR, doing it enhances user experience. Emails that end up distorted on mobiles could make subscribers lose interest in your emails. In worse cases, they could toss your emails into the trash forever. Hence, use proper email template sizes, and include optimizing images and other interactive elements in the emails.
  5. Clear and Engaging Content 
    Use visually appealing content and graphics and clear copy to engage your audience. Further, you can use connective storytelling methods and UGC to create a hook.
  6. Clear CTA (Call-to-action)
    A study has found that emails with a single CTA increase sales by 1,617%. To make more people take action, include a clear and concise CTA in your emails.
  7. Relevant Timing
    When you send emails at regular intervals, customers are more likely to engage with your content. Make notes of important times your recipients are the most active, and send them emails during this window for higher CTOR.
  8. Test and Refine 
    Each email campaign performs at different levels, and it’s critical to test your campaigns and make changes. You can always use a combination of metrics or rely on CTOR to check your email performance. 
  9. Email List Hygiene
    A healthy email list is a combination of factors such as verifying recipient email addresses, removing inactive and bounce email addresses, and constantly updating it. A well-maintained email list leads to higher deliverability and, thereby higher CTOR. 
  10. Recipient Preferences
    Allowing recipients to manage preferences like frequency of emails and unsubscribe options will help reduce complaints and unsubscribes. 
  11. Avoid Spam Triggers
    Certain words, phrases, and even symbols can trigger spam traps, leading to reduced sender reputation. For example, avoid using all CAPS and misleading content such as ‘100% Free’ or ‘Buy immediately’.
  12. Comply With Email Regulations
    When you schedule your emails, ensure they follow the general guidelines of the CAN-SPAM and GDPR. This means you must provide an unsubscribe option in all emails that you send.

Email marketing is constantly evolving, which means you have to follow these best practices and refine them to suit your audience. However, if you’re ever lost trying to handle the process by yourself, we’re here to help.

The Inbox Formula For Consistent Results

The Inbox Formula is a comprehensive guide to help you achieve higher open and click rates, as much as 6x. It’s a proven way to scale your email volume for consistent performance — it breaks down email marketing strategies and preparation, maintenance, and execution for you. 

These are lessons acquired by running a fast-growing firm, dealing with a large number of clients, and sending out millions of emails every day. 

Download the Inbox Formula for free. 

We’d love to see your business grow, and this is our exclusive opportunity to assist you. If you need further guidance with your email campaigns, apply to become our client here!

Similar Posts