Metrics Mayhem: Why Your Click Through Rate is Low

What good is an email campaign with a high number of opens if no one is clicking on it? A savvy branding guru might argue that there’s upside to opens and reads without clicking because it can potentially keep your brand top of mind and influence purchasing behavior at a later date. Although this is technically true, as direct marketers we’re tasked with showing ROI that’s directly correlated with the campaigns we send. And if no one is clicking on our email, then no one is purchasing because of our email.

The first thing to break down in this instance is what metrics you’re actually looking at. Click through rate is calculated by dividing clicks by the volume of email delivered. While this can be a useful metric, it doesn’t actually tell the full story of email engagement because it doesn’t take into account mail that may have been delivered to the spam folder or gone missing.

Click-to-open rate is actually a much more accurate data point to measure when trying to determine the effectiveness of your creative and call to action. By measuring the click rate only for mail that has been opened, you can view the response rates across campaigns in a much more apples-to-apples comparison.

Now that we’re looking at the right data, let’s break down some reasons why your subscribers are opening your mail but not taking action on it.

Meeting expectations
If your subscribers are opening your mail then it’s clear they want to hear from you and your subject lines are enticing enough to draw them in. But if the meat of your message isn’t what they expect, then the engagement with your subscriber could end very quickly.

Make sure the mail you send is the mail you promised upon sign up. Employ a preference center and make sure it’s refined enough for subscribers to select the mail streams they are most interested in. Allow for multiple frequency options as well. Some people may want to hear from you every day, while others may prefer to receive your email on a weekly or even monthly basis. By segmenting your sends based on what your subscribers want, you can be sure they will remain as engaged as possible in the content they expect to receive.

Call to action
This is where the magic happens. If your call to action isn’t clear and prominently located, then your subscribers won’t be drawn to it. Here are some ideas to ensure your CTA is easily accessible:

  • Have more than one: Place your CTA in multiple areas of your creative to increase the chances of a click. The preheader is also an excellent place to add a CTA at the very top of your email.
  • Consider that images may be off: Make sure that your CTA is still relevant and viewable if your email is displaying in an inbox with the images turned off.
  • Make it relevant: When creative has different sections with different topics, be sure the call to action for each area is relevant to the content it supports.

The mobile experience
According to Litmus, an email creation, testing and analytics company and Return Path partner, over 50% of email is read on mobile devices. Mobile devices are becoming more and more important vehicles for consuming digital content. If your mail isn’t optimized for the mobile experience then your call to action could be getting lost on that small screen and rendered virtually un-clickable. Invest in email templates that are responsive in design and maximize the ability for your subscribers to be drawn to clicking, regardless of where they might be reading your email.

By paying attention to the right metrics, you can make changes to your email campaigns and get a clearer picture of what will prompt your subscribers to engage more. Optimizing your program to meet the expectations of individual subscribers and creating a strong call to action that can be viewed on any device will help improve your click through rate and with it, your ROI.

For more information on common email marketing problems, take a look at our Guide to Email Marketing Metrics.

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