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Click-Through Rate (CTR)

What is click-through rate (CTR)?

Click-through rate (CTR) is a digital marketing metric used to measure ad performance in terms of the number of clicks received on the campaign against the number of views (impressions). Mostly, it is measured as a percentage rate.

Although CTR can be measured for most digital marketing channels, commonly it is used to track PPC, SEO, paid social, and email campaigns. It is ideal for such campaigns as they share a common goal of directing users to specific web pages. Common examples where CTR is measured are:

  • Links or CTAs on landing pages

A higher click-through rate on links or CTAs in a landing page confirm that its content and design are relevant enough for visitors to take necessary actions like click through to other pages, fill out a form, or subscribe. 

  • Email links

CTR is the percentage of recipients who clicked on a link within an email, out of the total number of recipients who received that email. A high CTR indicates that the email’s content and CTAs were compelling enough to drive recipients to take action.

  • PPC advertisements

CTR is a widely used metric in Google Adwords and other ad platforms to evaluate the effectiveness of search ads. A high CTR indicates that audiences find your ads relevant and helpful in answering their queries. 

  • Paid ads on social media

In the context of paid social media ads, CTR indicates how successful an ad campaign is in terms of generating engagement and driving traffic to a website or landing page.

  • Website elements such as buttons, images, etc.

By tracking this CTR on these elements, website owners can identify areas where improvements can be made, such as optimizing the placement, size, color, or text of CTA buttons, links, or images to improve engagement and conversions

  • Organic search results 

CTR for organic search results depends on multiple factors like the position of the search result on the page, the quality and relevance of the title and meta description, the search intent of the user, and the competition for a particular keyword. 

As a metric, CTR shows the relevance of an ad to the users. If the CTR is:

  • High – users find the ad to be highly relevant.
  • Low – users find the ad to be less relevant.

But here is something you should remember, a high CTR is not always a good thing for your paid campaigns. Having a high click-through rate (CTR) on a keyword that is irrelevant to your business is bad for your business. This is because you pay for each click and spending on irrelevant clicks means you’re just spending money without bringing in additional business. A good CTR should be on relevant and affordable keywords to generate more clicks on your ads.

Formula to calculate CTR

CTR is calculated as the percentage of visitors who view an ad (impressions) and then actually click the ad (clicks). The formula for CTR looks as below:

Let’s say you want to track CTR on the paid free trial campaign on social media. The ad was shown to 500 people, but only 40 of them clicked on the button. You can calculate the click-through rate by using a formula. 

CTR = (40 / 500) x 100% CTR = 0.08 x 100% CTR = 8%

No matter what type of marketing activity you’re looking at, the click-through rate formula remains the same.

Why is CTR important?

CTR is an important metric for advertisers to understand and monitor for the below reasons:

  1. Measures the success of an ad in grabbing user attention: Informs on what works and what doesn’t for the customers.
  2. Direct impact on the quality score: The score is measured through the ads’ CTR, ad relevance, and landing page experience to the users. A higher CTR will lead to higher quality scores.
  3. Ad rank: A high-quality score would result in Google charging less per ad click while placing the content at a higher rank.

What is a good CTR?

Many advertisers and marketers may ask – what is a good CTR? The answer to this is “it depends”. CTR is relative to:

  • Type of industry
  • Set of keywords 
  • Various individual campaigns within a PPC account

Below are the CTR benchmarks in Google Ads across some common industries:

Image source: WordStream

Click-through rate vs Conversion rate

Having a high CTR tells that a lot of users are clicking on the ads but it doesn’t tell about the total number of conversions. Simply put, an ad may have a high CTR with a very low conversion rate resulting in a high cost per conversion (CPC) for the advertiser.

Conversion rate is the metric that measures the percentage of clicks that lead to actual sales. Hence, it is a vital metric to track an ad campaign’s success. To discover more information about this topic, you can read this blog.

Factors affecting CTR

Some factors that can affect the click-through rate are:

  1. Content relevancy: The content for any ad, email, or campaign should have a similar message as on the landing page. This is not only important for CTR but the website’s bounce rate and finally conversions. 
  2. Ad rank: PPC CTR is also affected by the placement of the ad on the webpage. The ad rank is dependent on the quality score, relevance, and CPC budget.
  3. Other factors such as imagery, keywords, CTA copy, and ad positioning.
  4. Industry competition
  5. Audience and type of targeting
  6. Display URL
  7. Types of offers in the campaigns

Tips to achieve an improved CTR

No set number indicates a good CTR. However, many factors influence the CTR. To improve and achieve a high CTR, the below techniques can be of help:

  1. Understand the audience: Knowing more about the audience will lead to the creation of more targeted ads. Use tools such as VWO Insights to discover meaningful visitor behavioral insights across your website. 
  2. Perform keyword research: Before creating any PPC ad, research to know the right keywords to target. It saves time and money and helps in determining the click potential.
  3. Include CTAs: Nudge the visitors with relevant CTAs linking to a landing page that matches the ad copy.
  4. Symbols: Adding attention-grabbing special characters and symbols will make the ad pop and stand out.
  5. Use images: Images and other visual elements can improve click-through rates. You can consider adding more relevant or branded visuals to enhance the appeal of your copy.
  6. Use ad extensions: Ad extensions such as reviews, site links, locations, etc. cover more space on SERP, hence catching the eye of the visitor.
  7. Optimize for mobile: Optimizing for mobile is crucial as it ensures that users can easily navigate and view your content on smaller screens. This improves engagement and CTR, preventing users from losing interest due to poor mobile experience.
  8. A/B Testing: Once all factors have been considered which are leading to a lower CTR, testing every step of the user journey is the way ahead.

Here is a success story that proves how VWO Testing can boost the click-through rate metric for businesses. 
Based in North Carolina, ArchiveSocial is a SaaS-based social media archiving solution that helps organizations comply with legal requirements and avoid lawsuits. One of their objectives was to increase conversions from their homepage banner form. With the help of VWO Services, they discovered that the email field is shown toward the bottom of the page without any differentiation from the rest of the page. Therefore, a test was run where the CTA was moved to the first fold on the right. The variation outperformed the control and improved the click-through rate on the form field by 101.68%. To know what other tests they conducted, read the full case study here.

Some key takeaways

Several factors affect the likeliness of someone clicking on any content or ad, therefore, affecting the CTR. Still, it is a useful indicator and shouldn’t be used just as a performance metric. It should be used in conjunction with the below metrics to get the best performance evaluation of any campaign:

  • Bringing the campaign to the target audience (impressions)
  • Keeping the visitors on a page after getting clicks (bounce rate)
  • Encouraging visitors to take the desired action (conversion rate)

Wondering if it’s possible to measure more than one metric/goal for your A/B testing campaign? VWO Testing lets you set up to 5 goals in its Starter pack, while you can set an unlimited number of goals for other paid plans. Which means you can track multiple goals and test the effectiveness of your A/B test from different angles. So, take a free trial and explore different other exciting features of our platform.

Frequently asked questions on click-through rate

How to calculate CTR in Excel?

The formula to calculate CTR is the same everywhere, including in Excel – Total number of clicks divided by the total number of impressions, and multiplied by 100%.
You need to use the asterisk (*) for multiplication instead of the “x” symbol to calculate CTR through this method. 

What is a good CTR in digital marketing?

According to a report by Smart Insights, the CTR for paid search was 1.58%, while paid social CTR was 1.36%, and display ads CTR stood at 0.49%. On the other hand, the average CTR for email newsletters is approximately 3%. However, you must remember that what’s a good click-through rate depends on the type of industry in which you are operating. Refer to the chart above to know the good CTR in your industry. Even though the CTR may differ for each marketing activity and industry, the CTR formula in digital marketing is consistent across all marketing activities and industries.

How do I find click-through rate in Google Analytics?

You can track CTR on your ads easily by linking Google Ads to your Google Analytics account. This way, you can view ad performance in terms of CTR, conversion rate, and even bounce rate on Google Analytics more comprehensively. To know more, you can read this