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What does CTR stand for in marketing and why does it matter?

Read Time 20 mins | Written by: Gill Fernley

If you’re using paid ads of any kind to market your business, then you might have asked what does CTR stand for in marketing? CTR, or click-through rate, is an important metric when it comes to measuring the success of your landing pages, email marketing, paid ads and calls to action.

In this article, we define click-through rate, explore what a good CTR is, provide a handy CTR formula and share tips to improve yours.

Table of contents

  1. What does CTR stand for in marketing?
  2. How important is CTR?
  3. CTR calculation
  4. What is a good CTR?
  5. How to improve your CTR
    1. Improve your headlines
    2. Improve your copy
    3. Use eye-catching images
    4. Add or improve your call to action
  6. CTR = more than just clicks

What does CTR stand for in marketing?

CTR simply means click-through rate. It is usually displayed as a percentage figure calculated by dividing the number of clicks a piece of content receives by the number of times it is shown. More specifically:

Click-through rate is a metric that tells you how persuasive your ad copy, link text and/or headings are and is useful when measuring how effective your marketing is.

You can work out your CTR in Google Analytics, Google Ads, Facebook and other platforms that gather data about user engagement.

Along with other important metrics, such as reach, engagement, organic visitors, brand awareness and customer lifetime value, your click-through rate should be regularly measured to make sure your ads, emails and content are performing as they should.

How important is CTR?

Image of someone accessing analytics on a laptop - What does CTR stand for in marketing - Copify blog

While you do need to know your CTR, it’s important only as part of an overall range of metrics that give you your marketing return on investment (ROI) figure.

What your CTR doesn’t do is give you your conversion rate, tell you about the quality of your visitors or tell you why someone didn’t click. For those answers, you need the rest of your marketing metrics to give you your ROI and tell you where things aren’t working for you.

However, your CTR really does matter as a good indication of whether an ad or a piece of content is doing its job or not. For instance:

  • If you have a high CTR on a paid ad, you can be pretty sure you’re reaching the right audience and that the ad is engaging.
  • If you have a low click-through rate on your blog post, it’s a good indication that perhaps the blog post needs rewriting or replacing, or that perhaps your call-to-action needs work.

With paid ads, your CTR also matters as it impacts heavily on your Ad Rank and your Quality Score and these two factors determine where your ad is placed and how relevant your ad is expected to be in the search engines’ opinion. A higher CTR can get you the prime position for your ad so keep tweaking, testing and refining to get that rate as high as you can.

CTR calculation

Image of someone using a calculator - What does CTR stand for in marketing - Copify blog

To know how to work out CTR, you also need to know the difference between impressions and clicks.

Your impressions are just the number of people who have seen your ad, landing page, email, blog post or any other part of your marketing. They’ve seen it, just that. They’ve maybe read your post, opened your email or seen your ad on Facebook. But they haven’t necessarily taken any action.

Your clicks are, of course, the number of people who click through after seeing your content. 

Therefore, your click-through rate is worked out by looking at how many people have actually seen your content and then taken the action to click on your ad or hyperlink.

So, the CTR calculation is this:

Number of clicks /
Number of impressions

For example, if your ad or blog post link was clicked on by 10 people and seen by 1000 people, then your CTR would be 1%.

Luckily, you don’t need to be a maths genius to do this calculation as the helpful folks at Web FX have created a simple-to-use CTR calculator to do it for you. Just pop your clicks in the top box and your impressions in the bottom box and press 'Solve'.

What is a good CTR?

Ah, there’s the question! And as with many things marketing-related, the answer is ‘it depends’.

Your CTR can vary depending on your industry, the type of ad, your design and a whole variety of factors, so while 1% might sound quite low, that could actually be a good CTR for your type of business, especially if you're targeting a competitive market.

But there is a way to find out what your CTR should be for your industry. WordStream has put together a fantastic set of metrics for twenty different industries, giving you the average CTR in Google Ads by industry. Check it out and find out where your CTR should be.

How to improve your CTR

Image of a smartphone displaying Facebook - What does CTR stand for in marketing - Copify blog

You’ve checked your CTR and you know it’s not pretty, but what do you do about it? How can you improve things and get people to click?

The answer to this really could be a full-length book on its own, but here are a few things to look at to start improving your CTR:

1. Improve your headlines

Your headline is often the first thing people see, and it’s the first thing that you can do to grab attention and make people read further.

Co-Schedule has a fantastic headline analyser you can use to make your headlines more eye-catching.

2. Improve your copy

Whether it’s your ad copy or a blog post, if it’s not working, look at how you can improve it. Test different versions of ads, check your keywords and make sure you’re aiming for the right audience and using the language they’d use.

Read More: How to do a comprehensive keyword audit of your site

3. Use eye-catching images

You’ve got seconds to catch attention on the internet before people move on, and great images, memes or GIFs can make the difference between an ad or a post that gets read or one that gets ignored. Again, test different images and see what works best.

4. Add or improve your call to action

If you don’t have a call to action, add one and see what happens. If you do and no one’s clicking, it’s time for a rewrite. Here’s a great article from Bigfoot Digital on what a call to action is and how to write a good one.

Top tip

Look at where you want to increase your CTR, and that should give you some ideas on how to do that. For example, you know that hashtags are important on social media, so using the right ones may give your ads or your Facebook posts a boost. If you want to improve clicks to your landing pages, then look at the SEO elements of your page.

Read More: How to use SEO in content writing

CTR = more than just clicks

Image of a laptop and notebook on a desk -What does CTR stand for in marketing - Copify blog

Well, we now know that CTR stands for click-through rate, but more than just its definition, your CTR literally stands, along with other important metrics like your conversion rate, for how much success you’re having with your marketing efforts.

Without knowing your CTR, you can’t measure success or failure, you can’t work out which ads and pieces of content are successful and which aren’t, and that means you can’t improve them.

The thing is, marketing is never done. You never get to the end of your marketing tasks list and think, ‘At last, I’ve finished marketing this business. I can forget about it now.’ There’s always something new to try, always something to tweak and improve, always competitors to outrank.

To do that, you need to know your stats. You need to measure, test and tweak in an informed way to give your business the best chance to succeed. That’s why your click-through rate is so important and why you always need to have it to hand.

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Gill Fernley

The director of her own copywriting firm, Gill writes B2B and B2C content for SMEs and digital marketing agencies. She has a background in performing arts and writes conversational, direct sales copy for businesses on a range of topics. She’s also a keen writer of chick lit.