Email has a super impressive ROI ($42 for every $1 spent.)
But come to think of it, ROI comes second to engagement.
After all, without email engagement, ROI has no opportunity to grow and multiply.
Great engagement would mean more people not only click to open the email, but also perhaps click on at least one link within the email.
In this piece, we’ll talk about the ins and outs of email click-through rate, a metric trusted by most marketers.
How to Improve your eCommerce Email Clickthrough Rate Faster
What is email click-through rate (CTR)?
Email click-through rate is the percentage of subscribers who click on at least one link in the body of an email against the percentage of emails successfully delivered.
You can figure successfully delivered emails by subtracting bounces from the total emails sent.
The formula for email click-through rate or CTR looks like this:
Emails with at least one click ➗ Emails successfully delivered X 100
So let’s say, total email deliveries stand at 500 and out of that only 50 were opened—in this case the email CTR would be 10%.
What is Total CTR?
A sub-calculation of your overall email click-through rate would be the total click-through rate.
Total CTR calculates any link click through an email. This takes into account instances where a subscriber clicks multiple times across the same email.
Total CTR calculates the ratio between the total number of emails delivered and the number of visits your site receives through those emails.
What is Unique CTR?
Another connected calculation is the unique CTR of an email campaign.
Unique CTR tracks the behavior of every subscriber that clicks only once.
So this percentage looks at the ratio between the total number of emails delivered and the number of subscribers who clicked on an email link.
What is a good email CTR in eCommerce?
From the trend, it looks like it may be good to aim for anywhere between 10% and 20%, though the fact is few industries are able to achieve this.
In fact, on an average, businesses manage an email CTR of about 1% to 5%.
Newsletters especially tend to have a better CTR than other kinds of emails—though B2C emails don’t get as many clicks as B2B emails.
However, what’s more important is that what you consider to be a “good” email clickthrough rate also depends on several factors—these include:
- The type of industry you’re in
- The type of channels you lay emphasis on
- The kind of email you’re sending
- The geographical location of the recipient
The variability of CTR over a pre-fixed window of time (say, you choose to study the performance of email CTR over 6 months) also has a role to play.
We often suggest clients to discover a unique base CTR over which they can then incrementally improve and study the growth.
A word of caution: Don’t be threatened by a much higher Click-to-open Rate (CTOR) compared to CTR. While the former factors in only opened emails, the latter concludes based on how many received an email.
25 Ways to Improve Click-through Rate for Better Conversions
1. Set the right expectation with the subject line
Can you tell the difference between “250 extra points for members only-only Today!” and “Attention members! Get 250 extra points when you…”?
Apart from being obviously crisp, the first instantly says what value is “inside” the email.
This is straightforward and those who are truly interested will open the email to click through.
To ensure your opens and click throughs are consistent, your subject lines have to:
Get to the point quickly— ensure the subject line isn’t more than 40 to 50 characters long.
Use action verbs—“want,” “rock,” “think,” learn” and “get” invariably make people pay attention.
Speak directly to a motivation the recipient has.
For a makeup brand customer, something like “Glam up at 40% less.” could spark interest.
For a baby clothing brand customer it could be “Every shade your baby will love!”
2. Improve link position
Keep the most important one—preferably the CTA button—above the fold.
Even if you have to feature multiple text links, ensure they are spaced out well, and are secondary in design hierarchy to the main CTA button.
To further improve link position, avoid placing them in a bulleted list—instead offer context and then hyperlink the exact text so that shoppers know what they can expect at the other end.
Research shows that placing links on the left has a higher impact on engagement and conversions versus placing them on the right—the top-left being the most relevant.
If you club links together against a strange color background or too close to the footer section, they may not be visible at all—so take white space seriously.
Here’s a Loft email we love—notice how they feature multiple links throughout the email but use a color that’s non-intrusive:
3. Optimize send time
Though optimizing for geography and demographics can often play a significant role in improving click-through rates, we’ve seen more success in tracking subscriber habits closely.
To optimize send time:
Observe if there’s a trend across email opens over the last three times.
If they’ve opened more, see if certain emails see more opens at certain hours.
Notice what kind of emails get more opens—you might find some subscribers opening newsletters at a particular time, while others open transactional emails.
Notice which emails have maximum clicks: did the cart abandonment emails that you sent during lunch time see better click-through than the ones you sent towards the close of work hours?
Observe delivery times. Because of multiple barriers like spam filters, there can be a lag between when you initiate an email blast and when the emails actually reach a recipient’s inbox. In how much time within delivery, are they opening the emails?
You might like: 50+ eCommerce Email Marketing Statistics (2023 Data)
4. Write powerful opening headlines
When viewers see a great headline right after they open an email, they feel persuaded to read further.
The best headline copy always does the following:
- Sets expectations
- Incites an emotion
- Inspires action
They’re also invariably concise, easy-to-understand and usually don’t feature more than 5 words.
Here are a few headline templates to fall back on:
Say yes to X% off!
Your bag’s still got something.
Have your cake and X% off too!
Don’t be a stranger!
Free shipping—just for you!
It’s time for a treat!
Your thoughts, our treat.
Hey, where have you been?
Tick tock time to shop…
We want to hear from you.
And then, to make it more impactful, you can use a visual cue like the eye gaze in the following Steve Madden example:
5. Ease scanning (with the F pattern)
Extensive research proves that while on the web, visitors prefer scanning content in an F pattern.
It’s no different with emails—which means you can make your email content more consumable by laying it in a rough F layout.
The point is to place the most important message on the top line followed by the rest.
Here’s an example—notice how the greatest attention goes to “hello stranger” immediately followed by the discount (which is the primary CTA).
Also observe how they’ve increased whitespace in the lower areas for the reader to keep scanning easily.
In the following example, Sephora shows how to stick to the F pattern very closely and introduce the CTA soon after the message of urgency:
6. Pick the right layout
The advice that you need to pick a single column layout is usual.
But what it doesn’t cover is that it works best for only certain emails.
Like promotional emails with a single discount or cart abandonment emails that come with a crisp headline showcasing items left behind.
For others like welcome emails or emails highlighting referrals & membership programs, choosing a single column layout will result in too much scrolling.
A multi-column layout, instead, will make space for several layers of information.
But how would a reader know where to take their attention when it’s a multi-column layout?
This is where arrows pointing to certain information can help the reader take quicker action.
7. Make sure every email has ONE goal
The average attention span of a digital reader is about 8 seconds.
So, the idea is to have your email readers take away highlights within a quick scan.
Offer a single *big* reason for clicking a CTA—like Yeti does here:
8. Feature visuals that tell a story
Like it or not, the human brain processes 90% of information in visual mode.
This means when your emails contain visuals that incite a response, readers are more likely to want to act.
Boden, for example, makes the visual the hero in this example—tying up the main headline and discount to it, so that readers immediately “hook” into the story.
The continuity of such visual messaging makes readers want to go beyond the email.
You could even design your text in interesting ways to get a response from the reader—see how Loft hints at “variety” by infusing some color into “treat”:
The other way to do this is to frame your text in an interesting way.
Notice how Loeffler Randall inspires readers to read the full text by squeezing all of it between “thank” and “you.”
Tip: Use descriptive alt text for your images so that your emails become an opportunity for visually impaired subscribers to act as well!
9. Consider making your images clickable
Given 91% of Americans shop on mobile, you’d want to make room for them to click as soon as they land up inside an email.
So whether or not an image contains a CTA, hyperlink it for both accidental and intentional clicks.
10. Less words is more
The quicker they’re able to take in all the primary info, the faster they’ll want to see what’s beyond the email.
You might like: 30 Amazing eCommerce Email Templates (from 6 industries)
11. Offer clarity on next steps
But don’t veer off into other directions.
Use less transitions between pieces of information—this Ann Taylor email is a great example of how a single train of explanation can double as headline & microcopy:
12. Use the subscriber’s name in the email body
This creates a more consistent experience than when the subscriber reads their name only in the subject line.
Here’s an example from Sephora:
13. Build anticipation
Almost every business now knows that they need to leverage special days in their shoppers’ lives.
However, to take your click-throughs to the next level, you’ve got to offer better reasons.
In the following example, notice how they make it about “half-birthday” and then promise to double the discount during the recipient’s birthday:
14. Personalize based on the last action they take
For example, you can make a rule that the moment someone has bought 5 times from you, the triggered email that follows will invite them to an exclusive sale.
Here’s an example from Everlane:
15. Leverage browsing history for gift suggestions
Instead of saying “we noticed you were looking at…” you could say “Been eyeing <insert product name>? How about gifting it to someone you love?”
Take this opportunity to suggest bundles to take the AOV up—check out what Harry’s does here:
You might like: 20 email personalization templates (examples from great brands)
16. Announce a week full of “deals”
One way to do this is to start a “customer appreciation week”—and declare a specific deal everyday.
Make sure a preliminary mail sets the expectation.
Alternatively, do this over a week in the peak season.
During this time, send multiple emails as “today’s deal” or “announcing tomorrow’s deal early” etc.
To increase efficacy, you can make it a mystery discount period where every day will see a different email.
Check out what seeJanework does:
17. Reach out to new subscribers within a day
This is the way you can make your brand stay top-of-mind.
Many eCommerce brands reach out instantly with opt-in confirmations and discounts.
Alongside, you can also tell them:
- What benefits you offer when they purchase
- What benefits they’ll get when they become a member
- What frequency they’d prefer for emails generally etc.
Check out this confirmation mail to a new subscriber by Bloom—it sets expectations in a quick glance:
18. Repeat your main CTA as a hyperlink
Whether your email openers click or not is not entirely in your control.
However, repeating your main CTA as a relevant hyperlink later in the text can ensure at least a percentage of readers click through.
Now another way you can do this is to repeat the main CTA twice or thrice if it’s relevant.
One eCommerce brand that does so is Nordstrom—once you sign up for their newsletter, they urge you to “create an account” and they feature this as CTA twice in the email body, once at the top and once towards the end of the email.
Additionally, they also offer the nudge as a hyperlink:
Tip: Optimize how your anchor text reads.
The good thing is that your anchor text needn’t read like your CTA.
So you can create more conviction by driving benefits or telling them what they can expect.
In the above example, the hyperlink could read “enjoy 10% off on all orders when you sign up”.
19. Feature what’s “popular” as links
Yes, we get that a single CTA cuts out the distraction.
But that’s not stopping you from populating your email with hyperlinks that drive a lot of action otherwise.
This can have an impact on how many people click through your emails.
Links you can feature:
Weekly flash sale page
Free membership program
20. Highlight brand benefits
Do you offer free shipping or free returns?
Do you feature free consultations?
Do you have a special podcast for members only?
Highlighting brand benefits or perks is a lot like highlighting social proof in an email.
A section on them can convince readers to click through, in addition to great discounts or offers.
Fenty Beauty ensures they feature their brand-specific benefits in every email they send:
Check this out: Top 20 lead nurturing emails in eCommerce
21. No irrelevant emails 🙂
For example, three discount emails every week across every month of the year without factoring in other conditions like peak season, customer journey etc. would be pointless.
Or let’s say someone’s just bought a number of products, and within 2 days you send them more deals on similar products.
This can happen even if you’re re-sending the same email, without tweaking the angle to suit the recipient’s mindset.
Email subscribers’ fatigue is a real thing.
Instead: create expectations right when you ask people to subscribe so that they know what to look forward to—like Gymshark does:
22. Resend “non-opens” with new subject line
Tweak the preheader text too for maximum effect.
And, make sure you don’t resend every email campaign, though it might seem important to you.
Instead: study open rates and CTRs for successful campaigns and find out which segment was actively behind those numbers.
Now when you’re resending emails to a specific segment, play up nuances you didn’t before.
For example, you could be promoting a range of outdoor grills for Independence day with the subject line:
“The Freedom of Family Time with this Outdoorsy Range…”
When you resend the same body content a few weeks later, the subject could simply change to something that your audience cares about:
“20% off on the Outdoorsy range to liven up your weekends”
Resend based on who is likely to open the email and read based on past data.
And don’t resend before a week at least has passed from the original campaign.
23. Focus on a great P.S section
It can be super crisp, but when you add a P.S section to your email that drives real value, readers sit up, take notice and even click through to take action.
Ask them if they received this email from a friend as a forward—offer a hyperlink for them to confirm and attach an X% discount at the end of it.
Offer an additional X% discount in exchange for writing a review—”We’re loving the fact that you continue to buy from us—write a review and get 20% off on your next purchase!”
Highlight the benefit of immediately joining your membership program—”Still considering if a membership is worth it? Sign up and get an additional 10% off on all orders, including discounts & flash sales.”
24. Optimize how the footer looks
We’ve repeatedly seen how a congested footer impairs email experience—it’s because readers subconsciously feel pulled to this part and then if it’s confusing, they drop off.
Observe how the next two examples have two very different footers—Nando’s clearly optimizes how much text their email footer should carry while MAC doesn’t:
25. Use a “social” prompt
There are multiple ways to do this:
“Join our community” works well for those who’re trying to understand the brand better or get some exclusive membership offers.
“Share this email” is another prompt for those who may not be interested to buy right away.
Alternatively, just create a social sharing block at the bottom of your email that leads the recipient to at least three or four of your popular social media channels—and call it “Spread the word.”
Whereas emails without social sharing icons brought in an average CTR of 2.4%, those with social sharing icons garnered 6.2%—which is a 158% increase.
What is the average email CTR in eCommerce?
Across industries, email click-through rate can be as low as 1.2% (fitness & wellness) and as high as 4.4% (education).
But the average seems to hover a little over 2%.
Similarly, email CTR seems to be highest on Tuesdays (2.4%) and comes down to 2.1% over the weekends.
What does a low email click-through rate indicate?
A low email CTR in eCommerce could mean a number of things:
- Not an inspiring call-to-action
- Too much copy in the email body
- The featured links are not relevant to the audience
- No other reason to click apart from purchasing
- Distracting design and layout that triggers drop-offs
- A low email open rate
Why is email CTR so important in eCommerce?
Email click-through rate is an important metric in eCommerce because it decides if the quality of emails you're sending is actually contributing to engagement and conversions.
The trend of email CTR picking up as a metric (given that X% of marketers use it) also has to do with businesses realizing open rate can be flaky. Further privacy updates around Apple’s iOS 15 and mail app have further contributed to vagueness around email open rates.
On the other hand, click-through rate already rules out emails that have had problems reaching inboxes and instead those that are clicked.
Which type of eCommerce emails has the highest CTR?
Whether transactional or informational, personalized emails seem to get higher CTR than non-personalized emails.
However, even among these welcome emails seem to do really well. In fact, if a subscriber has initially read a welcome email, they will tend to read 40% more content from the same sender over the next 6 months.
Similarly, cart abandonment emails also have high CTR—research says in 2021, it was 8.76%.
Post purchase emails also have a higher click through rate, especially review requests—it stands at about 6.5%.
Transform Email Marketing Into A Revenue Machine
Most eCommerce store owners don’t see email as a serious revenue stream.
Ask them about the importance of email marketing, and you'll hear: “we don’t really have a major strategy,” “we mostly use generic templates,” or “we just send emails to people on our list.”
BUT AT THE SAME TIME:
There are stores out there that drive 30%+ of their revenue from email marketing.
Engage can help you do the same - Book a free demo.
We’ll show you:
- workflows we can create for your store,
- proven ways to drive 30% or more $$ from email alone, and
- successful templates and strategies from your industry (and others).