The secret of email click-through rates

Julia Ruskin
5 min read

You've worked hard crafting outreach emails, cultivated a list of recipients, and now you're wondering–did it work? Am I reaching people?

Email click-through rates are a great way to understand if your email strategy is working. But when it comes to email click-through rates, the first data you see may not be telling you the whole story.

We saw a 100% click-through rate in a recent email campaign, unheard of when the average click-through rate is 2-5%. So, what was going on? What we initially saw as incredible success was actually the Total Click-Through Rate or TCTR.

The TCTR measures how popular the email is by how many clicks it generates; however, this number can be skewed in a few ways. If people open an email on multiple devices, that counts toward the TCTR; if people click on links more than once, those clicks get counted; and what we were seeing as 100% click-throughs was a spam filter system opening links to check they weren’t phishy. So, while we were thinking, "Wonderful! Everyone is reading and clicking every link in the email we sent!" it was an email firewall checking to make sure we had sent legitimate links, and this was skewing our data.

TCTR isn't always severely skewed like this, and it can be very helpful data to see how popular your email truly is based on shares and repeat engagement, but it's key to check the Unique Click-Through Rate (UCTR) as well. The UCTR avoids some of the noise that the TCTR counts. For example, the UCTR doesn't count someone opening an email on two devices twice, it only registers it once.

When trying to understand your data and how well your messaging is working, both the TCTR and the UCTR are helpful metrics, but it's important to remember how each applies. At the end of the day, the data provides a starting point or comparison point to keep working from and use as a benchmark.

To keep improving those click-through rates, a few things we always consider are the subject lines, the design and layout of the email, the time the email is sent, and the positioning of the links within the copy. Want to know more? We’d love to chat about crafting your email campaigns with you.