GTM Dictionary

The Go-to-Market Dictionary: Click-to-Open Rate

Learn all about click-to-open rate, an important metric in your go-to-market strategy, with our comprehensive guide.

As businesses move at lightning speed to stay ahead of competitors in today's digital world, there is no doubt that email marketing has proven to be a vital tool in any company's arsenal. While having a large email list is great, what's even more important is that your email campaigns are actually being opened and acted upon. This is where the click-to-open rate metric comes into play. Understanding this metric can help you measure the effectiveness of your email campaigns and make critical changes to increase overall engagement.

Understanding Click-to-Open Rate

Click-to-Open rate (CTOR) is a measure that assesses the performance of an email campaign and determines how effective it is at engaging recipients. This metric shows the percentage of subscribers who clicked on a link within an email after opening it. Essentially, CTOR measures how compelling and relevant your content is by tracking how many people interact with it.

Definition and Importance

CTOR is a metric that provides a universal standard to measure how effective your email campaigns are. Essential in the digital world, it helps you track the number of people that open your emails and how many of them find the content inside the email compelling enough to click through to your website or landing page. This metric is crucial for businesses as it helps them understand how well their email campaigns are performing and what can be done to improve them.

Moreover, CTOR is a valuable metric because it helps businesses understand their audience better. By analyzing the click-to-open rate, businesses can understand what type of content their audience is interested in and what type of content they are not interested in. This information can be used to tailor future email campaigns to suit the preferences of the audience, leading to better engagement and higher CTORs.

How Click-to-Open Rate is Calculated

Your CTOR is calculated by taking the number of clicks and dividing it by the number of opened emails, then multiplying the result by 100. This metric does not account for how many people received your email but did not open it or how many people marked it as spam. It is important to note that CTOR is not the same as click-through rate (CTR), which measures the number of clicks divided by the number of emails sent.

Calculating CTOR is relatively simple, and it can be done using email marketing software such as Mailchimp, Constant Contact, or Campaign Monitor. These platforms provide businesses with detailed metrics on their email campaigns, including CTOR, CTR, open rates, and more.

Industry Benchmarks for Click-to-Open Rate

It's worth noting that click-to-open rates vary depending on the industry and purpose of your email campaign. According to Mailchimp's 2021 data, the average click-to-open rate is around 14.1%. However, this number can fluctuate dramatically depending on factors such as audience size, industry, and content relevance.

For example, the travel industry has an average CTOR of 20.69%, while the arts and artists industry has an average CTOR of 9.64%. This variance in CTORs highlights the importance of analyzing metrics specific to your industry and audience to determine what a good CTOR is for your business.

In conclusion, CTOR is a crucial metric for businesses to track and analyze to determine the effectiveness of their email campaigns. By understanding how CTOR is calculated, businesses can optimize their email campaigns to achieve higher engagement rates and better results.

Factors Affecting Click-to-Open Rate

The click-to-open rate can be influenced by numerous factors within an email campaign, such as the subject line, preheader text, email content, audience segmentation, and targeting. However, there are other factors that can also impact the success of your email campaign.

Email Subject Lines

Your email subject line is your first impression and can make or break your CTOR. A strong subject line can significantly increase your open rate, but an uninteresting or misleading one can lead to your email ending up in the spam folder or being deleted immediately. Avoid clickbait-worthy phrases and ensure your subject line correlates with the content inside the email. Furthermore, it's important to test different subject lines to see which ones resonate best with your audience.

Preheader Text

Preheader text is the snippet of text that is displayed underneath the subject line in the recipient's email inbox. Use it wisely to further entice recipients to open your email. A well-thought-out preheader can provide context and generate interest. Consider using preheader text to expand on the subject line, provide additional information, or even include a call-to-action.

Email Content and Design

The content of your email and the design are critical in maintaining recipient attention and encouraging click-throughs. Ensure your email content is engaging, informative, and concise. Use imagery and proper formatting to break up text, making it easy to skim while still delivering essential points effectively. Additionally, consider incorporating interactive elements such as videos, GIFs, or quizzes to increase engagement and interest.

Audience Segmentation and Targeting

Segmenting your audience based on their interests and behaviors can increase the likelihood of recipients clicking on links within your emails. One size does not fit all; tailor your email content, design, and offer to each recipient, making them feel like it's personalized to them. Furthermore, it's important to regularly review and update your audience segments to ensure they remain relevant and effective.

Email Frequency and Timing

The frequency and timing of your emails can also impact your click-to-open rate. Too many emails can lead to email fatigue and cause recipients to unsubscribe or mark your emails as spam. On the other hand, too few emails can lead to recipients forgetting about your brand or losing interest. Finding the right balance is key. Additionally, consider sending your emails at optimal times for your audience, taking into account time zones and work schedules.

Email Deliverability

Your email deliverability rate is the percentage of emails that successfully reach your recipients' inboxes. A low deliverability rate can significantly impact your click-to-open rate. To improve your deliverability rate, ensure your email list is clean and up-to-date, use a reputable email service provider, and avoid using spam trigger words or phrases in your email content.

Email Metrics and Analysis

Regularly analyzing your email metrics can help you identify areas for improvement and optimize your email campaigns for success. Pay attention to metrics such as open rate, click-through rate, and conversion rate. Use A/B testing to test different elements of your emails, such as subject lines, preheader text, and call-to-actions, to see what works best for your audience.

By considering these additional factors and implementing best practices, you can improve your click-to-open rate and overall email campaign success.

Strategies to Improve Click-to-Open Rate

It's essential to continuously work on improving your CTOR to bolster your email marketing strategy's effectiveness. Consider implementing the following strategies:

A/B Testing for Email Campaigns

A/B testing two versions of email campaigns, such as different subject lines, can help you determine what resonates best with your audience.

For instance, if you're a fashion brand, you might test whether your subscribers respond better to subject lines that include the word "sale" or "new arrivals." By testing and analyzing the results, you can optimize your campaigns to improve your CTOR.

Personalization and Dynamic Content

Incorporating personalization tokens within email campaigns can make your emails feel more individualized and build stronger relationships with your audience.

For example, you might use the subscriber's first name in the subject line or greeting of the email. You could also use dynamic content that changes based on the recipient's preferences, behaviors, and personal data, potentially increasing click-through rates.

If you're a travel company, you might use dynamic content to showcase deals on flights to destinations that the subscriber has previously shown interest in.

Mobile Optimization

In today's mobile-driven world, it is imperative to optimize your email campaigns for mobile devices. Failure to do this can negatively impact your CTOR, as many emails are opened and read on mobile phones.

When optimizing for mobile, consider the layout of your email, the font size, and the overall design. You want to make sure that your email is easy to read and navigate on a small screen.

Analyzing and Adjusting Send Times

The timing of your email campaigns can affect your CTOR. Analyzing and adjusting email send times based on subscriber behavior can increase the likelihood of successful engagement.

For example, if you notice that a large portion of your subscribers tend to open their emails during their morning commute, you might adjust your send time to coincide with that. By analyzing your subscribers' behavior and adjusting your send times accordingly, you can improve your CTOR and overall engagement.

Measuring Success

When it comes to email campaigns, measuring success is crucial. It allows you to determine whether your efforts are paying off and whether you need to make any changes to your strategy. One way to measure success is by using CTOR, or click-to-open rates. This metric measures the number of clicks your emails receive compared to the number of opens they receive.

But CTOR is just one metric to keep an eye on. It's also important to track open rates, click-through rates, and conversion rates. By comparing these metrics, you can gain insight into potential improvements you can make to your email campaigns. For example, if your open rates are high but your click-through rates are low, you may need to work on creating more compelling calls-to-action.

In addition to tracking metrics, setting SMART goals can help you stay on track with your email campaign strategy. SMART goals are specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-bound. By setting goals that meet these criteria and monitoring their progress, you can ensure that your email campaigns are aligned with your overall marketing objectives.

Adapting Your Strategy Based on Results

Once you have tracked your email campaign metrics and set SMART goals, it's time to adapt your strategy based on the results. If your CTOR is low, for example, you may need to re-evaluate your email content to make it more engaging. Or, if your conversion rates are low, you may need to work on creating more targeted email lists.

Adapting your strategy based on results is an ongoing process. It requires you to be flexible and willing to make changes as needed. But by doing so, you can improve the effectiveness of your email campaigns and ultimately drive more conversions for your business.


The click-to-open rate metric is an essential tool for improving the effectiveness of your email campaigns. By paying attention to important factors like subject lines, preheader text, content, design, audience segmentation, and targeting, you can tailor your emails to increase the likelihood of click-throughs. Implementing successful strategies such as A/B testing, personalization, mobile optimization, analyzing and adjusting email send times, and monitoring your progress are critical in boosting your CTOR and improving the overall success of your email campaigns.