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What is CTR? Defining Click Through Rate for online businesses

Definition: Click-through rate, or CTR, is a digital marketing metric that measures the ratio of total impressions to clicks in search and display advertising, email marketing, and other online mediums. CTR can indicate the effectiveness of ad copy, meta data (titles & descriptions), and email subject lines.

How to calculate CTR

To determine CTR, divide total impressions by total clicks. For example, if an advertisement for Nike Air Zoom shoes gets 10 clicks and 2,000 impressions, the CTR is 0.5 percent.

2000 _____ = 0.5%


Interpreting CTR across marketing channels

Though it varies in application by medium, a high click-through-rate indicates relevant content with engaging copy. CTR is usually dependent on some type of "teaser" text. Marketers constantly work to optimize ad copy and other teaser texts so that they entice readers to click through and learn more. Effective copy that increases click-through-rate can significantly impact a business' bottom line by driving more qualified traffic.

Like most digital marketing metrics, CTR is not a sole indicator of success. If the destination page or forthcoming email does not match the text surrounding the link, users are less likely to follow through with the desired action (such as making a purchase or signing up for a newsletter).

Paid Media

In Google AdWords and BingAds, every advertisement and keyword has a unique & trackable CTR. Click-through rate is an important determinant of quality score, which impacts ad position and cost-per-click. Search engines strive to deliver the best results for their users, and quality score measures whether users find ads to be useful and relevant to their query.

For paid search marketers, CTR is one of the best ways to gauge which keywords and advertisements are most appealing to consumers. Insights can be drawn from high-performing ads: for example, an online clothing store with a high-performing ad that mentions fabric type could try that tactic in other campaigns.

Email Marketing

Ecommerce email campaigns usually include tracked links to the store's website. CTR helps email marketers evaluate the effectiveness of an email copy. While open rate describes how users respond to a subject line, click-through-rate only relates to readers who have already opened the email. A high-performing email successfully encourages readers to click an embedded link to the website.


Organic click-through-rate is influenced in large part by ranking. A 2014 study found that over 30% of natural search clicks went to the highest-ranking result, with strong drop-off after every result. However, that doesn't mean that search marketers cannot influence organic CTR. A page's title, description and URL with relevant keywords and enticing copy can entice users to click and learn more.

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