More Evidence That “Free” Is A Four-Letter Word For B2B Marketers
Last week, I covered an email performance study that flagged the word “free” as a deal-killer for click-to-open rates. Today, I was intrigued to see a HubSpot blog post that describes an experiment designed to test this very point:
“If you’ve been email marketing for a while (or even if you haven’t), you might have heard that “free” is no longer a dirty word with the email overlords. Still, some email marketers are hesitant to use the word, just in case there’s some truth to the former rumors.”
HubSpot set up a simple A/B experiment: One email used the word “free” in the subject line, the other email didn’t. The test was designed to compare deliverability rates as well as click-through rates on each.
In terms of deliverability, it turned out it’s fine to offer a free lunch:
“It looks like ‘free’ raised an additional (small) red flag, but it was not severe enough to make version A perform statistically words than version B.”
But when it comes to click-through rates, the experiment told a different story: In its A/B test, the email without the word “free” in the subject line had a 17% higher click-through rate and a 5% higher click-to-open rate.
HubSpot isn’t ready to deliver the thumbs-down to using “free” in a subject line. As they (rightly) point out, what they used instead of “free” in the subject line (in this case the word “SEO”) might have been the real source of the difference.
When, however, you compare the HubSpot study to the Adestra study we covered last week, the dots connect nicely: When it comes to B2B email subject-line performance, “free” really seems to be a four-letter word.
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