Email CTRs: Nothing New, but Still a Problem - eMarketer

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Email CTRs: Nothing New, but Still a Problem

Majority of marketers say CTRs are biggest challenge to email marketing success

May 18, 2015

Marketers rely on email for everything from engagement and lead generation to acquisition and retention. And when it comes time to measure performance, clickthrough rates (CTRs) are used most heavily. Despite the CTR’s popularity though, the metric presents issues that are preventing marketers from the highest level of success.

Leading Challenges to Email Marketing Success According to Marketing Professionals Worldwide, May 2015 (% of respondents)

In a May 2015 study by Ascend2, marketing professionals worldwide ranked CTR as the most useful metric for measuring email marketing performance, cited by nearly three-quarters of respondents. Conversion rate was the only other option that came close, at 71% of respondents.

Other research finds similar results. In Salesforce Marketing Cloud polling conducted in November 2014, CTR ranked as the No. 1 metric used to gauge email success, though this time cited by a lower 47% of marketers worldwide. And in a Campaigner study also from last November, 41.1% of marketers in North America said CTRs were the most important metric for determining email campaign performance—once again, the top response. As such, higher CTRs and email interaction was the top email marketing priority in 2015 for respondents.

However, while CTRs were Ascend2 respondents’ biggest metric, they were also their biggest problem. Fully 53% of marketing professionals cited low clickthrough rates as a challenge to email marketing success—12 percentage points higher than No. 2 lack of an effective strategy.

Most Effective vs. Difficult Tactics for Increasing Email Marketing CTR According to Marketing Professionals Worldwide, May 2015 (% of respondents)

How to fix the problem? Respondents cited meaningful call-to-action offers as the most effective tactic for increasing email marketing CTRs, followed by list segmentation for targeting and message personalization. However, the first two were also the two most difficult, meaning marketers will need to confront tactics they may typically shy away from due to hurdles.

Inbox Marketer looked at email messages sent on behalf of its clients in North America and found that email CTRs dropped from 6.0% in 2013 to 4.3% in 2014—the lowest average since at least 2009. Such findings emphasize email marketers’ need to master the most effective metrics if they want to buck the trend and drive the CTRs—and campaign success—they’re aiming for.

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