How to Use Data to Increase Your Click-Through Rate

November 7, 2018 Max Totsky

Person browsing their email inbox

One of the most important tactical metrics for marketers today is click-through rate (CTR). This metric represents the magic moment when a customer decides to take action and move to the next stage of a marketing campaign. Regardless of whether clicks happen in emails, digital ads, or text messages, marketers want to know how to increase CTR.  

“Click-through rates are indicative of how compelling your content is to the end user,” says Ashley Lockridge, Cheetah Digital’s Associate Principal Marketing Consultant. “The more you know about your audience, the better your ability to cater content at the 1:1 level.”

According to the Cheetah Digital Email & Mobile Benchmark Report, the average unique click-through rate across all industries ranges from 1.6% to 1.9% depending on the quarter.

Provide Relevant Content

What do consumers usually look for when deciding to click on a link? One word: relevance.

“There are times when businesses can get away with fake relevance. For instance, there are lots of emails with ‘Picked just for you’ or ‘You've unlocked a discount’ in the subject line,” says Lockridge. These types of campaigns are deceptive. They may be sent to a full list, but are worded in a way to make the user think the message contains items curated just for them. “However, without the data to drive content that is truly personalized, this tactic will have a short success shelf life.”

“You can’t catch the customer’s eye if you don’t give them something of real value, at least not for long.” Content in the “picked just for you” emails may be clicked the first time due to the perceived value. However, once the customer learns that the items are irrelevant to their preferences, they will not be tricked a second time.

To increase CTR in the long term, you need to deliver relevant, personalized content to your customers. And that means you need the right data about them.

Know Your Customer

Even the most basic data sets can give you an edge in creating click-worthy content. “Demographics such as gender and age can give your organization the ability to showcase a subset of products best suited for the individual,” says Lockridge. Abandoned cart messages are another great example of using customer data to deliver relevant content.

“However, sophisticated brands know how to use data in a predictive manner. This takes us from saying ‘Jane is a clearance buyer’ to ‘Jane is a clearance buyer that has a high propensity to transact on a big ticket item in the next thirty days,’” says Lockridge. “Using a mixture of machine-based learning techniques and human insight, you can utilize this prescriptive and predictive data to drive refined levels of dynamic content, determine what additional cross-channel efforts to employ, or even adjust frequency of email delivery to drive clicks and conversions.”

Shed Your Misconceptions

There are many notions people have about click-through rates that can damage their overall performance if they hold them too close to heart. Here are a few common misconceptions to avoid.

First, click-through rates are not the only indicator of your content’s success. “Don’t forget to look at click-to-open rates in addition to click-through rates.” A click-to-open rate is the number of unique clicks divided by the number of unique opens. This will give you a stronger indication of how successful the content was to those who actually opened the email.

Just because a campaign has low click-through rates does not mean it needs to be scrapped. “Review images and placement of links instead of making broad assumptions about the success of a campaign based only on click-through data.”

Finally, you can use CTR as much more than just a success metric. “Click-through data can give you deep insight into user demographics and preferences. Even if you have challenges with re-targeting segments based on site data, you can easily pinpoint clickers to various campaign types to use in analytics.”

Consider The Whole Customer Experience

“High click rates represent an engaged audience,” says Lockridge. She stresses, however, that this inference can only go so deep. Sometimes you can have content that is very compelling, but without a clear call-to-action. In that case, ensure that creative incites a next step.

If you see decline in clicks, it is smart to start by looking at audience segmentation and to end by looking at the website experience. “If your audience has clicked through in the past and come to a frustrating, non-mobile-optimized site, they will be less likely to click again. Remember, the customer experience doesn't stop when they click. Make sure you work with members of the website team to drive a seamless flow for your customers.”

Lastly, remember that lots of clicks on a product does not mean lots of transactions. “Look at your conversions,” says Lockridge. “Sometimes we will see strong clicks but a failure to convert. We must remember to evaluate the full customer experience to ensure success.”

About the Author

Max Totsky

Max Totsky is a member of the content team at Cheetah Digital, where he creates and edits content for the blog, marketing campaigns, and thought-leadership resources.

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