What Is a Click-Through Rate (CTR)?

What Is a Click-Through Rate (CTR)?
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What is a click-through rate (CTR)? A click-through rate or CTR is a figure used to illustrate the ratio of how many people clicked on a webpage compared to how many people saw the website. 

As marketers, our role and responsibility are to meet the goals of our clients. Though there are dozens of strategies across various mediums, we share one factor in common: the need to illustrate the return on investment. By using data and analytics, we can determine the success of initiatives and campaigns. One of the most useful measurements is a click-through rate or a CTR. 

It’s a simple formula and figure that speaks volumes about messaging, design, calls-to-action, and offerings. Here’s an example: you develop a new landing page for a client, including a complete overhaul of the imagery and the writing. You also include information on a promotion that’s meant to drive their audience to engage with the brand and, hopefully, convert into a customer. But how can you tell if it’s effective? By calculating the click-through rate. 

How to calculate your click-through rate

It’s an easy-to-understand formula that should be applied for each campaign, promotion and paid advertisement investment. Here’s how:

Take the number of click-throughs and divide it by the number of impressions. Then, take that number and multiply it by 100. This gives you a percentage. And now, you have your click-through rate! 

Depending on what you’re tracking, web traffic vs. emails, you may change impressions to messages delivered or another factor, but the math remains the same.

With this percentage, you can better understand how your words, design choices, and promotion/sales strategy work for your client and their goals. Particularly in ad word campaigns and investments, you want to ensure you’re getting the most out of your assets and work, so calculating the CTR allows you to pivot if needed if something is falling short of expectations. 

Why click-through rates can be misleading

In theory, a high click-through rate should mean that everything is performing well, but sometimes, marketers can get caught up in the click-through rate without digging deeper into the analytics for the full story. It’s common sense but easy to forget: someone may click on a webpage after seeing a promotion, but they may not take action. 

A smart way to think about this is through sensational headlines or promotions: a user may be compelled to learn more, but once they do, they don’t become a customer, give their email address or subscribe. Think about a ‘too-good-to-be-true’ free trip that makes you click, only to realize you have to pay something outrageous to be entered in a drawing.

When someone clicks and bounces, it still counts toward your CTR percentage but isn’t actually beneficial to the company. That’s why conversions must also be part of your KPI strategy and analysis. These two data points go together and are essential to meet goals and improve overall website performance. 

To improve your CTR and conversions, you can utilize the benefits of search engine optimization to understand better what leads search to arrive at your website. You can also try A/B testing methods and make changes to copy and design frequently. 

Common uses of a click-through rate:

  • To calculate the success of a campaign
  • To test different design and messaging strategies
  • To test promotions, sales and other call-to-actions
  • To gather email addresses and subscribers
  • To improve conversions and meet goals
Here’s everything you need to know about a click-through rate (CTR) and why it matters in digital #marketing promotions. Click To Tweet

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About the author

Lindsay Tigar

Lindsay Tigar is an experienced, established travel and lifestyle journalist, editor, and content strategist. Since uprooting from Asheville, North Carolina in 2010 to Manhattan, Lindsay's work has appeared on several websites, including Travel + Leisure, Vogue, USA Today, Reader's Digest, Self, Refinery29, and countless others. While she is always up for the challenge of any assignment, her main areas of focus include travel, wellness, career, psychology, love and healthy living.