​Lenny Johnson10 min readPartner postsMarch 13, 2019

9 proven ways to skyrocket your email click-through rate

9 proven ways to skyrocket your email click-through rate

If you are trying to drive readers to your website or blog, your email click-through rate (CTR) is the strongest indicator of success. It's also one of the most challenging aspects of email marketing.

The average email CTR is about 1.9% according to DMA's 2018 Email benchmark report.

Even a slight improvement in your click-through rate will lead to significantly more returns from email marketing. After all, your list size doesn't matter if you can't get your subscribers to take action.

In this article, I'm going to show you 9 ways to increase your email click-through rate so you can get better results from email marketing.

The easiest way to increase your email CTR is to have one goal per email. What is the most important action you want your subscribers to take?

When you fill your email with multiple offers, it results in analysis paralysis for your readers. They don't know which action to take so they get overwhelmed and exit the email without doing anything.

Your email should have just one goal and you should focus your energy on making sure it's as easy as possible for your subscribers to accomplish it.

Here's an example from Airbnb:  

improving your click through rate - Airbnb CTR example

You don't have to read their email twice to know that they want you to view your itinerary. Airbnb didn't ask their subscriber to do anything else.

You can achieve this level of focus by asking yourself, "What is the most important action I want the reader to perform in this email?"

Another factor that influences your email CTR is the layout and look of your email. You want to make sure that your email is easy to follow.

Good email design can improve how subscribers take in your content because when your email is a mess, your CTR falls. Just as having multiple goals in an email can reduce your CTR, so can too many images, colors, sections, etc.

You don't have to be a professional designer to keep your email uncluttered.

5 simple tips for better email design

1. Use a single column layout: This is the easiest email design hack anyone can implement. Companies like Quora, LinkedIn and even Google regularly use single column email layouts to make content easier for readers to digest.

2. Keep the email short: There's no strict rule for length, but usually shorter emails get straight to the point and generate higher CTRs.

3. Increase white space: White spaces reduce clutter and help make your emails more readable. When text and images are spaced out, readers know how to progress from one part of your email to the other.

4. Use visual hierarchy to highlight important sections: Most of your subscribers will skim your email to find anything that catches their interest. You can use different headers, images, and even color to direct their attention.

5. Your email should pass the squint test: An easy way to test if your email is distraction free and that your CTA is visible is to perform a squint test. You blur the email and see if you can differentiate your CTA from the rest of the email content.

Here's an example of a squint test for this Instacart email:

improving your click through rate - CTR squint test 1

Here's what this email would look like in a squint test:

improving your click through rate - CTR squint test 2

Despite the text, images and links in the email it's still easy to tell the CTA apart from the rest of the email. This email passes the squint test.

The best deals and stunning email design won't help you if your subscribers don't care about your offers. Segmenting your email list is another way to boost your email CTR because it increases the relevance of your email to each subscriber.

Email list segmentation is one of the most effective strategies top email marketers use to increase email ROI. To get started with segmentation, you can group your subscribers based on what they've shown interest in or by their demographics.

In this email, Justin Jackson of Mega Maker gives his subscribers the option to pick what stage their business is at. He can then use this information to send them more relevant content:

improving your click through rate - segmentation CTR example

AdEspresso on the other hand requests for additional information at the point of sign up:

improving your click through rate - AdEspresso ctr example

Segmenting your list ensures that your emails are relevant to each subscriber and this has a positive effect on your CTR.

The P.S. (postscript) is a tactic Copywriters have been using for years. A postscript helps the reader to remember the final thought of the email – so make it count!

Here's Copywriter Joanna Wiebe using it in one of her emails:

improving your click through rate - postscript ctr example

You should use the P.S. to highlight details of your offer that you think the subscriber will care about. It’s your final word before they either click or bounce.

Another CTR boosting hack is to include multiple CTAs in your email.

I mentioned earlier that you should reduce distractions and only have one goal per email. That’s why all your links should go to the same place.

Here's an example from Noah Kagan Of Okdork:

improving your click through rate - multiple links ctr example

This email has three CTAs all pointing to the same offer, which improves the possibility of a click.  

Your CTA might seem like a small part of your email copy, but it can have a huge impact on whether people click.

In the example below, Unbounce found that just replacing the word "your" with "my" in their CTA led to a 90% increase in CTR.

improving your click through rate - better ctr example

You can make your email's CTAs better by:

  1. Making them action-oriented. Use verbs like "Get", "Start" etc.
  2. Increasing their contrast. They have to stand out from the rest of your email.
  3. Conveying value. Your CTA should tell the user what they're going to get by clicking.
  4. Making them relevant to the scenario. Don't use generic CTAs like "click here" or "download". Instead use something specific to the situation like "Get a free consultation call".

Check out these CTAs from Steli Efti of Close.io:

improving your click through rate - better ctr example 2

Notice how he makes the CTAs action-oriented with "Sign up" and also describes the value the reader will get by clicking.

Video has the potential to boost engagement in your emails, and that can lead to more clicks.

According to Animation Explainers Video Marketing Statistics, videos can create 12 times the amount of shares than text and images combined. Video increases conversion by 80%, and 90% of customers say it helps to make buying decisions.

Video with email marketing is a powerful combination. For example, Wistia split tested their emails and discovered that videos increased their CTR by 300%.

improving your click through rate - video ctr example

If your open rates are high and yet your CTR is close to nothing, you should check that your subject line isn't misleading.

A misleading subject line might get people to open your email because it sparks their interest, but that doesn't mean they'll click through to your offer.

Misleading subject lines can reduce the trust you've built with your subscribers. It's best to write a subject line that reflects the actual content of your email.

Here's an example of a straightforward and compelling subject line from Yummly:

improving your click through rate - ctr subject line example

The subject line gets you curious enough to open the email and the rest of the content matches the subject with a list of their most trending recipes.

Sometimes your CTR is low because your subscribers are too busy to click on your offer at that moment or they are distracted.

The average office worker receives over 80 emails a day. It's easy for yours to get lost in all of that. Following up is a good way to improve your email's chances of being opened and clicked.

Here's an example of a follow-up email from Ramit Sethi of Growth Labs:

improving your click through rate - follow up CTR example

It's clear from his subject line that he's following up on earlier emails he sent and then he provides his subscribers the opportunity to read what they might have otherwise missed.


  • Brainstorm and A/B test different subject lines to find the best ones.
  • Remember to personalize your sender address. 
  • Your email design should match your brand.
  • Making your email mobile friendly will improve your CTRs.

When you want clicks

Email marketing success depends on your goals. If you want to drive readers to another site, CTR is king. Without clicks, there are no visits, no purchases, and no ROI.

I hope these tips and techniques help you make strategic changes to your emails that will improve your click-through rate and boost the ROI you get from email marketing.

What did I miss? Have you tried other things that have boosted your CTRs? 

Let me know in the comment section below!

​Lenny Johnson

Lenny Johnson helps SaaS brands build authority and drive sales with content. He's a guest contributor at HubSpot, Entrepreneur, and elsewhere. You can learn more about him at B2B Content Lab.