Click-Through Rate

The click-through rate, often abbreviated to CTR or referred to as “click rate” in the German variant, describes the ratio of impressions and clicks, i.e. the relationship between the number of page impressions and the number of clicks on a particular link. The click-through rate is considered a key performance indicator (KPI) in online marketing, especially for banner advertising and other advertising that is paid for by clicks.

Advertising is everywhere these days. However, advertising also often goes nowhere – whether that’s an ad in a magazine that the user simply skims over, a TV spot that the viewer switches to, or banner ads that the user ignores, it doesn’t matter. In online marketing, however, website operators have a decisive advantage: they can use analytics tools to determine how many users were actually interested in their ads. The ratio between the number of those who clicked on a banner ad, for example, and the number who ignored the ad is known as the click-through rate. The CTR is therefore an important indicator of whether a marketing measure is working or not.

In the context of SERPs, the term click-through rate is also used more frequently. The CTR is determined in the normal way, but here it is determined how often a website appears in the SERPs on Google and how often it was actually clicked on. Google provides corresponding analysis tools for this within the Google Search Console.

How high is the Click-Through Rate on average?

As with most measures in online marketing, it is not possible to give a generally valid value for the click-through rate. In most cases, however, the CTR is in the per mille range – so for every 1000 impressions, there are only a handful of clicks. Older studies come to an average click-through rate of 0.1 percent. However, due to the ever-increasing use of adblockers and a general sensitization of users, this value is likely to have fallen even further. However, with the help of better thematic targeting of advertising, higher click rates of between one and three percent can certainly be achieved. The banners that have been popular for some years, which are superimposed on the actual website and “block” it, also achieve a better CTR – often even ten percent and more. However, the “misbehavior” of users must also be taken into account here, because this type of advertising often generates clicks that are not actually clicks – users often try to close the banner by wildly “clicking around” and then accidentally end up on the linked page. For this reason, the effectiveness of such banner advertising is quite controversial in online marketing.

In e-mail marketing, higher click-through rates of between three and fifteen percent are common. It should be noted, however, that here only opening an e-mail increases the number of impressions. However, a large number of advertising e-mails end up in the trash unopened, so the click-through rate is somewhat distorted here.

The situation is quite different for banner ads and other advertising measures on social media sites such as Facebook. Users there seem to be particularly “click-happy,” because the click-through rate here, at around 11 percent, is significantly higher than the click rate of a normal website.

How meaningful is the Click-through rate?

Since the click-through rate is very easy to determine, it is not surprising that it is often chosen as a key performance indicator. However, it is important to note that the click-through rate is only suitable for assessing certain factors. For example, the CTR cannot provide any information about the actual success of a marketing measure. Unfortunately, this is all too often forgotten, so that AdWords ads, Facebook campaigns and the like come to nothing.

The decisive factor is not how many clicks are generated by a banner or other advertisement on a website, but the conversion rate – i.e. the number of users who clicked on the banner and then actually bought something. This can be illustrated very easily with an example. If, for example, an ad on a social media site like Facebook costs 1 euro per click and 120 out of 1,000 users click on the ad, this sounds quite promising at first. But if only two of these 120 visitors convert, i.e. only two people actually become customers, the ad is probably not efficient. The 120 euros for the 120 clicks would then have to be matched by a corresponding turnover, which is rather unlikely with two customers.

Nevertheless, the CTR is rightly a KPI and an important criterion for analysis in online marketing. The click rate can be used to compare different advertising measures internally, for example. Is the eye-catching banner more effective or does the serious and simple banner ad attract more clicks? Does the new advertising concept really attract more attention than the old one? Does advertising on one site attract more visitors than on another? These and similar questions can be answered with the help of the click-through rate.

If the CTR is put into relation with the conversion rate, even more far-reaching conclusions can be drawn. For example, if an AdWords campaign attracts a lot of visitors, but the conversion rate is low, you might want to think about the design of the landing page. In addition, CTR and conversion rate can be used to compare the efficiency of advertising on different portals. In this way, banners can be targeted, for example on social media sites, fan portals or Google.

Click-through rate, SEO and SEA

The click-through rate is also an important factor for search engine optimization. However, this is not about the CTR for a banner, but about the click-through rate in the SERPs. With the help of the click-through rate, it is possible to determine how attractive the meta description of a website is – if the page appears frequently in the SERPs but is rarely clicked on, this is an indication that the meta description is not very appealing to potential visitors. Optimizing the meta data according to SEO standards can often have a noticeable effect here.

In addition, the click-through rate is interesting to compare regular customers with those who found the website via a search engine. If the latter perform well, this is an indicator that SEO measures and content of the page fit well together and that the page can meet the expectations of the “search engine customers”.

In addition, the CTR is of course also used to evaluate and optimize Search Engine Advertising (SEA). As mentioned above, although the click-through rate is not an absolute metric for assessing the success of search engine advertising, it is very much a basic requirement for effective online marketing in this area. Therefore, there are various measures that can be used to increase the CTR in order to create the basis for a high conversion rate. These include individualized advertisements tailored to different target groups, as well as a targeted selection of the pages on which the advertisements are placed. In addition, A/B tests are often conducted here to find the most effective among several ad variants.

The click-through rate is an easy to determine and useful tool to assess the behavior of visitors on a website. Especially in online marketing, the click-through rate is of great importance, because it can, among other things, provide information about how effective different advertising measures are in comparison to each other. As an indicator for the success of a campaign, however, the click-through rate is only suitable to a very limited extent – for this, the conversion rate must also be considered. However, this gives a very clear picture of how much attention the advertising attracts and whether the content of the page also delivers what the advertising promises.


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