A Click is a Click by Any Other Name, But Click-Through Rates Are Not the Same

Research done by the eec’s Measurement Accuracy Roundtable shows that ESPs use several different methods of measurement for the Click-Through Rate (CTR) metric.  During our discussions we identified several methodologies for calculating the CTR.  Two methods, delivered-based and open-based, emerged as the most common based on an online poll conducted by the Roundtable.  Here are the poll results:

How do you calculate the CTR?

The majority of respondents calculated the CTR using clicks divided by delivered, similar to how direct mail calculates its response rates.  Clicks divided by open was the second most common method and is similar to other online advertising methods that are impression-based such as banner ads and search sponsor links.  Companies often use more than one tool and therefore choose the methodology that makes the most sense for their media mix.  Having to normalize their data may create additional work for IT or marketing departments when they want to report and analyze results of their email program overall or roll up information into higher level reporting and analytics dashboards.

What can email marketers in the field take away from this survey?

  • First, it reminds us to check with our ESP to determine how they calculate metrics in their reporting to help maintain comparability and consistency while comparing results across or within email campaigns.
  • Second, we should also check how metrics are being calculated in other systems that email impacts, such as web analytics, to determine any necessary adjustments to normalize our reporting for cross-media analysis.  
  • Third, it demonstrates the need for email marketers and ESPs to come together to standardize metrics.

For the past two years, the Measurement Accuracy Roundtable has been working to standardize email metrics to improve the quality of reporting for the email industry and provide more uniformity in reporting for email marketers and email service providers alike.  You can learn more on this blog or show your support for the program on the Roundtable’s online petition.

Special thanks to Peter Roebuck of AllWebEmail for contributing to this post and to all the Roundtable members for their participation.

Luke Glasner
eec Measurement Accuracy Roundtable