December 18th, 2008 by Bob Bly
The frustrating thing about learning Internet marketing is that when you ask gurus for advice, they give different answers.
When I asked BJ, a successful information marketer, he was quite firmly against “free” in e-mail subject lines.
“We have found it is a no-no to use FREE in the subject line,” says BJ. “FREE is a tremendous spam flag in most systems.”
You can’t fool the spam filters by using “f-r-e-e” or “F*ree” or other variations, according to BJ.
“They are way ahead of you on that and in most cases it hurts you more because they see that as a blatant ploy to try to fake them out.”
On the other hand, AA, a respected Internet marketing consultant, says “FREE can and does work … in fact, most of our clients have at least one control subject line with FREE in it.”
“Way back when, there were a ton of rules about what you could and couldn’t do when it came to subject lines,” says AA. “All of these rules have pretty much been thrown out the window.”
Of course, you can say “test it.” In one test, a list brokerage promoting its service did an A/B split test with 2 subject lines: (a) “Boost sales, increase profits, and expand market awareness” vs . (b) “FREE Direct Mail Encyclopedia.”
The “FREE Direct Mail Encylopedia” generated 25% more click-throughs than “A.”
What happened? Obviously, the increased response produced with a free offer far outweighed the negative effective on clicks caused by triggering spam filters, resulting in a net click-through-rate gain.
What about you? Have YOU tested “free” in e-mail subject lines? Does it work for you?
P.S. By the way, according to a recent study from Datran Media, 83% of marketers surveyed said that e-mail marketing — not blogging, social networking, or banner advertising — is their most important advertising medium.
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