SOLVED: Using "Free" in Email

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Marketing software platform Hubspot performed a very interesting test recently regarding the use of the word "Free" in email

The purpose was to determine what impact the word had on email deliverability and click-through rate. HubSpot set up an A/B email test - one with free in the subject line and one without. 

The results may surprise you.

As related to deliverability, the word "free" on its own will not hurt your emails' deliverability according to Hubspot but it may raise some red flags with "carrier grade" filtering solutions, those used by some big ISPs (reason enough in my opinion to leave the word well enough alone). 

In relation to click-through rate however, the use of the word "free" tells marketers a much different story. The email without the word free in the subject line performed 17 percent better. Another reason to pass on using the word "free" in both subject lines and the body copy of emails. 


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Website Design Company 09-06-2012 9:50 AM

We always advise our clients not to use "free" in their email campaigns and we will continue to.

StephanHov 09-07-2012 4:04 PM As several commenters point out in that article on HubSpot, there are quite a few holes in this test, such that you can't say SOLVED as it relates to putting "Free" in a subject line.

One, for example, is that HubSpot's guides are always free, so putting Free in the subject line is of no value. Another is that the "free" version didn't tell you what kind of guide you were getting until the very end of the subject line, which was long enough that it would get cut off by most inboxes.

Besides, what works for one company may not work for another. Everybody should take these ideas, best practices, and "rules" and basically use them as "guides" to help them test whether they hold up for THEIR subscriber base.

Atlanta Real Estate 09-09-2012 5:11 PM

I agree with Website Design Company. Why risk it.

SpencerH 09-10-2012 11:33 AM

What about the use of "Free Shipping" in the subject line and email copy?

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