Surbhi Sooni A passionate product leader and strategist.

What is click-through rate (CTR)? Formula and how to calculate

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What Is Click-Through Rate (CTR)? Formula And How To Calculate

In this guide, we’ll define what click-through rate is, demonstrate how to calculate CTR, and walk through strategies to help you improve this crucial metric. We’ll also show how CTR enables you to make informed decisions about your product.

Table of contents

What is click-through rate (CTR) and why is it important?

Click-through rate (CTR) refers to the percentage of people who click on a specific link or advertisement out of the total number of individuals who view it. It is typically used as a metric to measure the effectiveness of an online marketing campaign.

CTR helps you understand your customers and parse out what works and what doesn’t work for your product and business. CTR gauges the percentage of people who click on your ads and search for your product and services.

Optimizing CTR is critical for businesses, especially product-led companies, to get the most out of their online marketing and email campaigns, ads, and page views. While running marketing campaigns, maximizing the potential for generating new leads and conversions is important.

A critical part of running a digital campaign is focusing on the right keywords for the type of advertisement. Numerous tools help businesses and products determine the value of keywords and how many searches were done for a particular term. Randomly picking keywords is not a good practice to optimize your CTR.

To optimize CTR, it’s important to tell your target customers what to do next and shepherd them through the conversion funnel. You’ll commonly see phrases like “check it out,” “shop now,” “50 percent sale,” “free subscriptions,” etc. These calls to action route the customer to get more information, increasing the CTR as customers explore.

How to calculate CTR?

To calculate CTR, divide the number of clicks your advertisement or page receives by the number of times the asset is shown to the customer.

The formula to calculate CTR is as follows:

CTR = Total number of clicks / total number of impressions


  • The total number of clicks is the total number of users who clicked on the ads/listing/emails. For example, with an email campaign, the total number of clicks is the total number of people who opened the email
  • The total number of impressions is the total number of users who viewed the specific link-related ads/listing/emails. For example, with an email campaign, the total number of email recipients is the total number of impressions

Let’s look at a simple example to show how CTR calculation works. If you have eight clicks and 100 impressions on an ad, the CTR would be 8 percent:

8 / 100 = 0.08

A high CTR often indicates that customers notice your ads and listings and find them helpful. An important aspect of CTR is keywords, which determine the ad’s rank. The keywords used in the ads and listing should relate to the business and what most people search for. This ensures that the user will click the ads.

Some common examples where CTR is measured are:

  • A call-to-action link
  • A hyperlink on the landing page
  • Pay-per-click (PPC) ad on Google search results
  • An ad/display on social media or websites

What is a good CTR?

A good CTR depends on the industry. There is no set number for a good CTR. A good CTR is always higher than the average industry standard.

Many factors influence the different types of CTR. For example, in the table below, different industries show that the average click-through rate varies between 6–7 percent for search ads (e.g., Google ads, and the average CTR for banner ads, e.g., google display, is 0.46 percent).

Also, a good click-through rate for email marketing is between 1.25 to 5.13 percent when combined with personalized messages and behaviors-based campaigns. Sometimes you can even reach a CTR of more than 20 percent.

If the CTR rates you’re seeing are lower than what you see within your industry, then you should refine your keyword list and ensuring the keywords you use are relevant to your business. Furthermore, consider a good call to action (CTA) on ads and run an experiment to see which features and CTA resonate with your brand.

What is an average CTR?

The table below shows the average click-through rate for various industries, according to Datawrapper:

Industry Average CTR (search)
Average CTR (display)
Travel 9.19% 0.47%
Sports and recreation 8.82% 0.51%
Ecommerce 5.50% 0.51%
Restaurants and food 7.60% 0.47%
Real estate 8.55% 1.08%
Industrial and commercial 5.61% 0.46%
Home and home improvement 4.62% 0.49%
Health and fitness 6.15% 0.59%
Finance and insurance 5.70% 0.52%
Education and instruction 6.17% 0.53%
Career and employment 5.93% 0.59%
B2B 5.17% 0.46%

You must also consider the CTR range of your direct competitors. A lower CTR than your competitor means the positioning of your product page is lower than that of your direct competitors. Because of this, what constitutes a “good” CTR depends on your competitors’ performance.

How does click-through rate measure effectiveness?

CTR identifies which products are efficient and catches the customer’s attention, directing them to click on the link. This aspect is important to track the product lead growth strategy. Tracking CTR and improving the CTR performance allows you to assess the true efficiency and performance of your product.

Click-through rate makes it simple for the product and marketing team to understand what personalized services and ads generate more leads and bring new customers seeking services and products similar to yours. This increases the possibility of conversion, an important measure for tracking product-led growth.

CTR constantly drives the product and marketing team to think out of box and create compelling ads, displays, and emails. A/B testing is an important part of running experiments on the effectiveness of the campaigns. If CTR fails to generate qualified leads, rather than sinking, A/B testing becomes the guiding metric for the product team to ship the right values, products, and services that solve customer needs and desires.

For example, curated personalized email content on upcoming Black Friday sales gets a better open rate when a user takes action to explore the offerings through curated content, rather than a generic email campaign. One way to see the effectiveness of tracking CTR is to de-risk the high bounce rate on the landing page or when customers click on a navigation link, but remove themselves from the conversion funnel.

Strategies to improve CTR

A/B testing is an effective strategy to improve CTR. It allows the product and marketing teams to determine the effectiveness of their ad campaigns, email, and content. The core strategy is to test the best response of the customers on different pictures, call to actions, videos, actionable headlines, links, tones of voice, and times of ad post per demographic.

To test these variants, the A/B test is run on one page as a control and another as an experiment. Both tests are run separately for each variable to see what factors significantly increase and decrease the CTR. One of the important metrics to track this A/B test result is the open rate.

After analyzing the test results, the product and marketing team decide to pivot or preserve the strategy to increase likes, shares, follows, and comments on the display and ads. Between the control and experiment, the team chooses the one with a higher CTR. This allows the team to keep improving the CTRs to generate leads and retain their existing customers.

Another important strategy is to run an A/B test on a call to action on your website, emails, or display ads. Strong calls to action are required to route traffic on your site, and there are different ways to test whether CTAs are actionable. Hence, testing the tone, diction, hashtags, headlines, and images on the campaigns ensures the ads connect with the users.

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Alongside this, you should customize the call to action by adding a personalization layer to the overall ad experience so that the user takes action. For example, a user looking for a refurbished laptop may not be excited to click on the ads for high-end new laptops. Tracking customer behavior and search and action often helps send them personalized CTAs.

You can also use A/B testing to find the best keywords to increase web traffic. The team uses the same approach of control and experiment where one campaign is controlled, and the experiment ad has specific keywords. To figure out the right keywords to target per your product, you can use Google keyword to see the ranking of the keywords. The idea is that more people see the ad when they search certain keywords, the higher the chance for conversion.

Both control and experiment keywords are analyzed to see which leads to more traffic, likes following renewal, and purchase of subscriptions and downloads. Once the right keywords are determined, ensure not to overuse them across the ads.

Aligning the A/B test with the audience makes the campaign effective. Hence you should align to the target audience according to demographics and psychographics such as age, income, marital status, purchase history, race, gender, time of purchase, loyalty, etc. Then, the test should be built based on these variables and run to acquire sufficient data to make decisions.


These tests aim to ensure that test results are evaluated and updates are done as soon as possible. In addition, CTR analysis is useful in identifying user behavior, which provides a holistic picture to the product team of how products, features, and services can be improved. This process is called conversion optimization based on the CTR percentage.

To summarize, the customer is always the priority. A good CTR means considering each touch point of the customer with the product through campaigns, ads, searches, and improving their experience whenever possible.

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Surbhi Sooni A passionate product leader and strategist.

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