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What is CTR? We explain Click Through Rate
CTR stands for Click Through Rate and measures the frequency of clicks on your ads. CTR is used in paid channels such as Google Ads, social media advertising and marketing automation, but also in SEO. CTR indicates what percentage of people who see an email, advertisement, link etc actually click on it. Below we explain what CTR is, how CTR is measured, why it is used and what CTR is widely accepted as a good score in different channels.
What does CTR mean?
CTR stands for Click Through Rate, which means click frequency. A high CTR means that a large percentage of people who saw the ad clicked on it. A high CTR is considered better than a low one, as it means a higher percentage of traffic. It is important to point out, however, that a high CTR is not an indicator of traffic quality. Sometimes a low CTR can end up yielding more positive results than a high one if it means that those who actually click through and land on the website convert. It is therefore important to compare CTR in relation to other metrics, such as CPM (cost per thousand impressions) and bounce rate.
On Instagram and Snapchat, the term swipe up rate is usually used, because users swipe instead of clicking. However, the metric is the same.
Why is CTR used?
CTR is used to understand how many people are interested in what you show. By analysing CTR, it is easier to draw conclusions about whether the material should be optimised, removed or perhaps even moved to another channel. Analysing CTR helps you to understand how effective your newsletter, advertisement or organic search result is in driving traffic to your website.
Here are some examples of how you can use CTR to help you to optimise your content:
One of your most important landing pages currently appears in position 1 in the organic search results, but you find that you have a much lower CTR than other keywords in the same position and much lower than the industry average. This provides valuable information that you can use to optimise your headings and meta descriptions to make them more click-friendly.
Your most recent e-mail campaign showed a significantly lower CTR than usual. Your low CTR may be an indication that something is not right. It may therefore be a good idea to investigate whether your emails are actually being received, or whether the subject line and the content of the email are now being designed differently and no longer appeal to your customers.
You see that your ads on social media have a significantly lower CTR than the industry standard and similar ads. This may be an indication that you need to change the design of the ad or that you may need to change your target group settings.
CTR is used to understand how many people are interested in what you show
What factors affect CTR?
There are many factors that can affect CTR, both external and things you can influence directly, such as ad design.
External factors such as seasons, holidays, competitors, trends and the world economy can have an indirect impact and are always good to bear in mind as context when analysing your CTR. High inflation can cause fewer people to click on your ads because of your pricing, while a weather forecast that predicts lower temperatures than usual can cause your autumn jackets category to suddenly have a much lower CTR because winter jackets are now in higher demand.
What has a direct impact on CTR is unique to each channel. Everything from colour choices in an ad and the wording of headlines to pricing can play a part. Below we give some examples of factors that can have a direct impact on CTR for different channels.
Subject line, sender, pre-header, time of delivery and calls to action (CTA).
Campaign objectives and advertising copy, such as wording, fonts, images and headings.
Meta titles and meta descriptions, position in search results and what type of result is presented, (e.g. if the landing page is presented in a featured snippet and takes up a large part of the search result).
Ad copy, headings, ad placement and offers, (e.g. if competitors have lower prices).
When is CTR an important KPI?
CTR is only a relevant KPI when the goal is for the user to click on something. So for something like a brand building campaign, where the goal is to raise awareness, CTR is not a primary KPI.
CTR can be measured in different ways for different channels. It is therefore important to decide which CTR is important to measure. For example, you can measure CTR on all clicks, unique clicks or sort in other ways.
Here are some examples of when CTR is an important KPI:
When e-mail campaigns have a stated conversion goal, it is relevant to look at CTR. However, for campaigns where the goal is increased awareness, other KPIs are more relevant. CTR is also an important measure to see how well the e-mail channel is performing, as other classic measurement points such as deliverability and number of opened emails often encounter technical challenges.
CTR is relevant in campaigns where the goal is to drive traffic to the website and in conversion-driving campaigns. It is not a relevant metric to measure in brand awareness campaigns. It is also a good idea to keep track of CTR in relation to the CPC prices for paid advertising.
For SEO, CTR is an essential KPI, as the goal is to get the user to visit your page. A low CTR can then be an indication that what is presented is not compelling enough to attract people to your landing page. Here it is important to also consider your ranking in the search results, as an attractive offer that ends up towards the back of the queue may simply have a low CTR due to its position.
CTR is good for seeing which ads in an ad-group are most relevant to the search. It can also give an indication of whether something is wrong. A low CTR may mean, for example, that the text of your ad is irrelevant in terms of keywords. If the goal, however, is conversion, it is important to also review the percentage of visitors that convert before a decision is made to turn off the ads.
CTR is calculated by dividing the number of clicks by the number of views, i.e. the number of people who have, for example, seen the ad or received the e-mail.
You send out your newsletter to 1100 customers. 1000 emails reach the customers' inboxes and 112 people click on a link in the e-mail.
- CTR = Amount of people who clicks the link/delivered e-mails = 112/1000 x 100 = 11,2%
You appear in position 2 on Google for one of your landing pages. In one week, 2,500 people found your page in the search results, of which 345 clicked through to your website.
- CTR = Amount of people who clicks the link/views in the search result = 345/2500 x 100 = 13,8%
What is a good CTR?
What is considered a good CTR depends on several factors. You can investigate what the channel and the industry standards are, but you also need to have a clear overview of how your own marketing has performed in order to be able to follow its progress. The following questions will help you get a good idea of the status of your CTR:
- What is the standard CTR for the channel?
- What is the standard CTR for the industry?
- What CTR is the most common in your market?
- What CTR have you had previously?
Compare your CTR with relevant statistics
Your focus should be on improving your own numbers rather than following other people's. However, comparing your figures with those of similar companies can provide valuable insights. Getting a fair picture of the value of your CTR requires a range of different reports and statistics that are relevant to your business. It is essential to get an overall view, not just stare blindly at one number in one report. Take time to understand where the data comes from. Many reports are based on the most common industries in the largest markets. It can be misleading to compare your performance against these figures if you are not in these segments.
Make sure to also check how the data was collected, for example which market and time period the report covers. Other aspects that it may be wise to check are whether the statistics only refer to a specific unit, whether they are an average value for all units and how much data the figures are based on. Always ask yourself whether the statistics are relevant to your company before you act on them.
CTR benchmarks for different channels
To provide an overview of how CTR can look for different channels, below we have listed average values from different reports. The following figures are only benchmarks and may not be relevant for your industry or ad type. As stated above, it is important to compare your numbers with statistics that are relevant.
These statistics are taken from Advanced Web Ranking Tools (AWR), the 2022 Email Marketing Benchmark Report (EMR), the sidecar 2021 Benchmarks Report (SBR) and Linked In Ad Benchmarks (LIB).
GOOGLE ORGANIC SEARCH (AWR)
Position 1: 32.07%
Position 2: 15.07%
Position 3: 8.79%
The statistics are for desktop searches in February 2022 and show an international average. The variation is considerable, depending on the industry and number of ads shown before the organic results.
Google Ads - 4.85%. (SBR)
The statistics are for the year 2020 and show an average value for retail in the USA.
Facebook advertising - 1.32%. (SBR)
The statistics are for the year 2020 and show an average value for retail in the USA. The click through rate usually varies between 0.47%–1.61% depending on the industry.
Instagram advertising - o.58%. (EMR)
The statistics are for the year 2020 and show an average value for retail in the USA. Click through rates often differ between industries and advertising formats.
LinkedIn advertising - 0.44 - 0.65. (LIB)
Global average for all types of sponsored content.
Open rate (how many people open the e-mail) – 21.5%
Click through rate (how many people click on something in the e-mail) – 2.3%
Statistics from 2021. Average values from 18 of the most common industries.
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