Don’t look at normal email click-through rates. If you make decisions based on those, you’re going in the wrong direction.
You might think the usual click rates are fine since all the email marketing programs and nearly all marketing experts talk about them.
But let’s be clear: the usual way of counting email click-through rates is stupid.
If you don’t understand the problem, you’ll look at the wrong numbers, likely interpret them wrong, and make the wrong decisions for your business.
What are the normal email click-through rates?
If you send an email to 1000 people and 25 of them click a link, email marketing programs tell you the click-through rate is 2.5%.
They didn’t count it wrong. They just counted the wrong thing.
The right email click-through rates
The key is to consider the open rate first.
If you send an email to 1000 people, 250 of them open it, and 25 of them click a link, the normal click-through rate is 2.5%.
But compared to the opens, that’s a 10% click-through rate.
So, why count it based on opens, instead of recipients?
What should you learn based on click-through rates?
Usually people see click rates as indications of how many people are interested in the topic of the email and/or what the email promotes. Or they view it as an overall “how good this email was” score.
That’s not entirely wrong, but it’s like evaluating the tastiness of food at a restaurant based on empty plates. Maybe the food is good. Maybe the portions are too small. Maybe something else.
You should first consider the open rate of an email. Assuming your subject line is clear about the email’s topic, a high open rate is a sign of people being interested in the topic.
Even when counting it based on opens, the click-through rate isn’t a perfectly accurate measure. You need to consider the context before reaching conclusions.
However, there are some common correlations.
A high click-through rate:
- The people who opened the email want to learn more about the topic than what’s included in the email.
- What you wrote to convince people to click the link was compelling.
A low click-through rate:
- The email didn’t keep them interested for long enough to reach the link.
- People misunderstood the topic of the email based on the subject line (i.e., they wanted to read about what they thought the email was about, not what it actually was about).
- There’s a mismatch between what the email is about and what the link promises.
- What you wrote to convince people to click the link wasn’t compelling.
- They got what they wanted from the email directly, so they didn’t have a reason to click.
What are high and low click-through rates?
Unfortunately, what is a “good” click rate depends on the context. Here are a few things that affect what click rates you should expect:
- How recently people have joined your list
- How aggressively you’ve cleaned your list
- What the open rate is (e.g., if very few people open an email, it can be an indication of the subject line being anything but intriguing, which means the few who opened the email are more likely to be truly interested in the topic)
- How long the email is
- What the link leads to
- How clearly you tell in the email what’s behind the link
- And so on…
But generally speaking, a good click-through rate (counted compared to opens) is 3-7% for the usual broadcast email for your general marketing email list. For more selective lists (e.g., customers, recent new subscribers, people who specifically joined a launch promo list), you’d hope for higher numbers.
However, even much lower numbers are sometimes fine. For example, my Friday scribbles emails often have an article (similar to this, but shorter) that ends with a single sentence or short paragraph mentioning the option of getting help. Here’s what it could look like:
“If you want to get better results with email marketing (or marketing generally), maybe I can help. Just reply to this email and tell me what you’re struggling with. Or you can read this page to learn a bit more about what I do.”
A 1% click-through rate in that context is high.
Another warning about how email marketing programs count click-through rates
Email marketing programs reports click rates as a single number.
If you have many different links in an email, you need to dig deeper into the data to see which links people click. But generally, you should avoid having multiple different links in an email. Rather focus your efforts to “selling” a single next step.
If you’re on my list and get the weekly Friday scribbles emails, you know I break that rule almost every time. The “tidbits” at the end of each email often have links.
But those emails aren’t normal marketing emails.
The goal is to share something practical (the first part of the email). Hopefully, when you want to grow your business, you’ve seen that I make it easy to understand and practical. Also, when I do a webinar, you hopefully know it’s going to be practical (not a 90-minute sales pitch), so you have a good reason to show up.
So, the emails don’t primarily aim for an immediate sale like many normal marketing emails.
The tidbits are included because they’re fun. I have fun with them, and I get replies from people who enjoyed them all the time.
Also, even if the main topic isn’t relevant for you one week, the tidbits might still give you a great laugh, spark an interesting thought, or something else.
Without them, the only differences compared to the usual marketing emails you probably get every day would be practicality (my promise is that every Friday scribble is truly practical—not just “practical” the way marketing people use the word), lack of a direct sales pitch, and frequency (most weeks only that one email).
If you don’t already get the Friday scribbles emails, click here now.