Click-to-open rates (CTOR) are a core email marketing metric for measuring how effective messaging and campaigns are during the holiday seasons (and all year round). They are, however, often overlooked by many marketers and not always offered by all email service providers as a standard campaign performance metric. In this post, we’ll lend insight into a) how to calculate this metric that matters and b) what the benchmark data means for the 2014 holiday season.


A standard clickthrough rate (CTR) looks at how many people, in total, clicked through on an email relative to how many received the email. A click-to-open rate looks at how many people clicked through on an email, relative to how many opened the email. How it’s calculated:

  • Take the total number of clicks

  • Divide by the number of unique opens

  • Express this number as a percentage

CTORs matter because it is one of the best ways to truly evaluate the content and creative in email marketing. It’s especially useful when it comes to testing, since open rates can easily fluctuate without substantial reason. We recommend every marketer take this metric into account for their holiday email marketing planning and post-campaign measurement.

2013 Holiday CTOR Benchmarks

We recently analyzed 475mm ecommerce emails to uncover the key data stats and trends in our Holiday Email Marketing Data report–including the sometimes elusive click-to-open.

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Last year, click-to-open rates were highest the weeks leading up to and during the Thanksgiving holiday, remaining steady at an average of 11.2% from November 11 to December 1. They dropped to a low of 8.34% the week of Christmas before increasing back to 9.5% the week of New Year’s Day. They, expectedly, increased dramatically during Thanksgiving weekend, peaking at 13.2% on Thanksgiving and 12.9% on Black Friday—a predictable surge during the biggest shopping days of the year.

2014 Holiday Predictions & Recommendations

This year, we anticipate a decrease in click-to-open rates during the holiday season due to the increasing use of smartphones and other connected devices.

The front line of defense to mitigating that decrease will be ensuring all emails are designed responsively to all mobile devices. It should be a fundamental piece of every email marketing strategy this season.

But that’s not all with mobile. Brands with a mobile app and high install base should incorporate a variety of push notification techniques that will drive consumers to specific pages within the app—consumers are more likely to convert to purchase once in an app. Brands without apps should leverage a single customer view and incorporate personalized SMS notifications into their holiday marketing plan. These techniques can effectively drive incremental revenue during peak send times by counter-balancing decreases in click-to-open rates.

Stay tuned for our next Holiday Benchmark Metrics that Matter on Average Order Value!


— Marielle Hanke, Senior Manager of Client Optimization and Analytics