Click Rate vs Click-Through Rate: Which One Should You Focus On?

Click rate and click-through rate are two commonly used metrics in digital marketing to measure the performance of online advertising campaigns.

While they may sound similar, they refer to different things and provide insights into different aspects of user engagement. Understanding the distinction between click rate and click-through rate is important for marketers to effectively analyze campaign results and optimize strategies!

Key Differences Between Click Rate & CTR

In summary, here are some of the main distinctions between click rate and click-through rate:

  • Click rate considers total impressions as the denominator while CTR uses total valid views or opportunities.
  • Click rate only reflects raw engagement, while CTR accounts for actual audience reach and chance to click.
  • CTR provides more insightful perspectives on performance factors like relevance, optimization, and benchmarks.
  • Click rate can yield misleadingly high or low values from non-genuine impressions, whereas CTR avoids this limitation.
  • CTR is typically a more useful indicator for performance evaluation and refinement across different platforms and formats.
  • Click rate may be sufficient for simple tracking, but CTR enables deeper strategic analysis of how content appeals to targeted demographics specifically.

What is Click Rate?

Click rate refers to the number of clicks received on an ad or piece of content divided by the number of impressions it receives. In other words, it measures the percentage of times an ad or content is clicked relative to the number of times it is displayed or viewed.

Click rate = (Number of clicks) / (Number of impressions) x 100

For example, if an ad receives 100 impressions and gets 5 clicks, its click rate would be:

Click rate = (5 clicks) / (100 impressions) x 100 = 5%

Click rate helps marketers understand the raw engagement level with their promoted content or ads. A higher click rate means a greater percentage of viewers are interacting with and clicking on the ad.

It provides insights into factors like:

  • How visually appealing and attention-grabbing the creative design is
  • Whether the headline, images and copy are enticing users to click
  • If the targeting is reaching the right audience that is interested in the offer

While click rate is a useful metric, it only considers clicks relative to impressions and doesn’t account for other important factors like how many people actually viewed or interacted with the impressions. This is where click-through rate comes in.

What is Click-Through Rate?

Click-through rate (CTR) refers to the percentage of users who click on a specific link, ad, email, or other element out of the total number of users who view or are exposed to that element.

Click-through rate = (Number of clicks) / (Number of impressions) x 100

The key difference with CTR is that the denominator considers the total number of potential opportunities for a click, rather than just total impressions.

For example, if an ad campaign generated:

  • 100 total impressions
  • 50 people viewed or were exposed to the ad
  • 5 people clicked the ad

The calculations would be:

Click rate = (5 clicks) / (100 impressions) x 100 = 5%
Click-through rate = (5 clicks) / (50 views) x 100 = 10%

As you can see, CTR provides more context since it accounts for the true audience reach and opportunity for engagement, rather than just total impressions which may include accidental or irrelevant views that don’t represent click potential.

CTR reveals how effectively an ad or content connects with and inspires action from its target audience. A higher CTR means it is more successful at converting valid views into clicks.

There are a few key things click-through rate can indicate to marketers:

  • Audience Interest & Relevance – A high CTR means the promoted message, offer and targeting are highly relevant and intriguing to the target audience. They are more inclined to engage further.
  • Call to Action Effectiveness – The design, headline and messaging is compelling viewers to take the desired click action. Testing variations can improve weak CTAs.
  • Brand Recognition – An established brand may see higher CTR due to familiarity and trust compared to new brands.
  • Mobile Optimization – Properly formatting ads and content for small screens can significantly boost CTR on platforms like Facebook mobile.
  • Campaign Performance – Comparing CTRs across ad sets, creatives, placements and targeting helps identify top and bottom performing variables to refine.
  • Industry Benchmarks – Average CTR standards exist for different platforms, formats and verticals. Being aware of benchmarks aids goal setting.

By understanding typical CTRs, marketers can discern what is working adequately versus needing optimization. It’s an effective metric for ongoing campaign analysis and improvement.

Example: How to analyse CTR vs Click Rate Data

As an example, consider this data from an Instagram influencer marketing campaign:

Post 1:

  • Impressions: 10,000
  • Clicks: 50
  • Reach: 2,000

Post 2:

  • Impressions: 20,000
  • Clicks: 100
  • Reach: 5,000

Calculating the metrics:

Post 1:

  • Click Rate = (50 clicks) / (10,000 impressions) x 100 = 0.5%
  • Click-Through Rate = (50 clicks) / (2,000 reach) x 100 = 2.5%

Post 2:

  • Click Rate = (100 clicks) / (20,000 impressions) x 100 = 0.5%
  • Click-Through Rate = (100 clicks) / (5,000 reach) x 100 = 2%

While both posts had the same click rate of 0.5%, Post 1 actually performed better based on CTR. Its content resonated more strongly with Instagram users who actually saw it versus total impressions, many of which may have been accidental.

This example shows how CTR provides additional vital context beyond click rate alone. Analyzing both metrics together allows for more nuanced evaluation of what really engaged an influencer’s followers versus just raw clicks.


In summary, click rate and click-through rate are distinct yet related metrics used in digital marketing. Click rate considers total impressions in its calculation, while click-through rate accounts for true audience reach or potential for engagement through its use of views or valid exposures in the denominator.

Click rate is a basic indicator of raw interaction levels, but click-through rate paints a fuller picture of how successfully a campaign connects with its target audience by inspiring relevant actions from them. By understanding the difference between these metrics and analyzing both, marketers can gain deeper insights into performance drivers and make more informed strategic optimizations to their campaigns.

This ultimately helps maximize results and ROI. Both click rate and click-through rate continue to be important tools for ongoing digital marketing measurement and improvement.