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Does Using the Word “FREE” Hurt Twitter Ads Traffic?

January 7, 2021 • By

Scott Ayres

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Find Out if Using the Word “FREE” Impacts Twitter Ads!

Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words can never hurt me!

Do you remember saying that as a kid? I did a lot! The 70s and early 80s were a different time for me.

Look at this hairdo! (And, yes, that was a jumpsuit. It was 1979 after all!)

To say I was awkward is an understatement…

This got me thinking if the old sticks and stones statement applied to Twitter ads performance.

Does using the word “free” have a positive or negative impact on your Twitter ads?

Can the use of the word “free” result in more clicks at a lower average cost per click (CPC)?

During a recent interview with Dane Golden on the Social Media Lab LIVE show we discovered that using the word “you” had a major impact on the success of your YouTube videos. It’s safe to say that using a word such as “free” could impact Twitter ads results, right?

Twitter Business recommends using the word “free” and gives an example of how Hubspot uses the word in its Twitter ads:

free twitter ads

Wordstream also points out the importance of using the word free to entice users to click on their ad about a free report:

twitterr ads

These examples are helpful in forming my hypothesis for this study:

Hypothesis: Using the word “Free” in Twitter Ads results in more clicks and a lower CPC.


How We Tested the Word “Free” in Twitter Ads

Using the @Agorapulse Twitter account, we ran two ads using the word “free” in the text, and two identical ads removing the word “free.”

All ads were directing traffic to our Social Pulse Summit: Twitter Edition, with two different variations of the image used in the ads.

Each ad ran for 48 hours for this test.

Ads including “free”:

twitter ads

running twitter ads

Ads excluding “free”:


twitter ad copy

twitter ads

Ad Target

All ads were targeted at English-speaking Twitter users who either followed the Agorapulse Twitter account or were considered a “look-alike” audience.

We focused on Twitter users in:

  • Australia
  • Canada
  • Ireland
  • United Kingdom
  • United States

We also targeted the ad toward two hashtags:

  • #agencychat
  • #twittersmarter

And targeted these keywords:

  • Twitter marketing
  • social media marketing
  • marketing

Our goal with this targeting was to get our ad in front of Twitter users most likely to be interested in our content.


Our initial budget was $800 euros ($986 USD). Our Twitter account is based in Paris, France, so pay in euros

We ended up spending $794.83  euros ($979.99 USD) on this test, which correlates to about $958.61 US dollars, depending on the current exchange rate.

Each ad only active for 48 hours spread out the budget fairly evenly at nearly $200 euros ($246.59 USD) per ad.

Does Data Support Using “Free” on Twitter Ads?

This Social Media Lab test on the use of the word “free” on Twitter ads did not find any significant difference in clicks or CPC.

Check out the data:

Twitter ads using the word “free”:

  • Total clicks: 437
  • Average CPC: $0.92 euros ($1.13 USD)

Twitter ads without the word “free”:

  • Total clicks: 427
  • Average CPC: $0.94 euros ($1.16 USD)

The Twitter ads using the word “free” resulted in 2.34% more clicks at an average CPC 2.13% lower.


But a 2% difference doesn’t institute any need to start using the word “free” in your Twitter ads. It’s a small increase in performance, but not anything we’d consider statistically significant. (If you were to run the test, or if I were to run the test again, we should expect the same or similar results.)

To evaluate further, we have to consider the number of Impressions each set of ads obtained, and compare that to the number of clicks.

The ads using the word “free” had 84,720 Impressions, while the ads without the word “free” had 94,149 Impressions.

You’ll notice the ads with the word “free” had less Impressions, yet more clicks. This results in a better click-through rate (CTR), meaning the ad had to be seen by fewer Twitter users to get clicks.

As an advertiser, you want to focus on a better CTR as this signals a better performing ad and converting ad. In our case, it only resulted in 10 more clicks at a few pennies less per click, but it is still something to note.

Check out this comparison using Neil Patel’s A/B split test calculator:

running twitter ads

“A” in this screenshot are the ads with the word “free.” These ads had an 11% better conversion rate, but it’s questionable whether the results are statistically significant.

The data just isn’t good enough to conclude one way is better than the other.

Based on all of this data the Social Media Lab concludes that using the word “free” may result in a slightly better CPC, CTR and overall clicks, but it’s not an advertising method a business should feel obligated to always include in their Twitter ads strategy.

Though we didn’t base this study on sign-ups for the Twitter Summit, we did end up with 13 sign-ups at the end of the test.

Other Interesting Twitter Ad Data

While looking through the data for this study, I found a few other pieces of data interesting and worth sharing. They do not, however, have any impact on the study.

The following data relates to the number of clicks the ads received.

We’ll express these data points in percentages.


  • Female overall – 38.19%
    • Female “free” ads – 38.22%
    • Female without “free” ads – 38.17%
  • Male overall – 54.40%
    • Male “free” ads – 54.69%
    • Male without “free” ads – 54.10%
  • Unknown overall – 7.41%
    • Unknown “free” ads – 7.10%
    • Unknown without “free” ads – 7.73%

This data isn’t surprising considering over 50% of the followers of this account on Twitter are male, as seen in Agorapulse reporting:

twitter reports


  • iOs overall – 56.48%
    • iOs “free” ads – 57.89%
    • iOs without “free” ads – 55.04%
  • Android overall – 42.25%
    • Android “free” ads – 40.73%
    • Android without “free” ads – 43.79%
  • Desktop overall – 1.27%
    • Desktop “free” ads – 1.37%
    • Desktop without “free” ads – 1.17%


  • Ireland overall – 40.16%
    • Ireland “free” ads – 37.07%
    • Ireland without “free” ads – 43.33%
  • Australia overall – 11.23%
    • Australia “free” ads – 12.13%
    • Australia without “free” ads – 10.30%
  • US overall – 13.43%
    • US “free” ads – 16.93%
    • US without “free” ads – 9.84%
  • UK overall – 29.51%
    • UK “free” ads – 30.66%
    • UK without “free” ads – 28.34%
  • Canada overall – 5.67%
    • Canada “free” ads – 3.20
    • Canada without “free” ads – 8.20%

The location data I find very intriguing, especially considering where most of the followers of the account are:

twitter ads

Most clicks came from those outside the average follower location.

One last data point to share regarding this Twitter ads test, 31.60% of all clicks came from users not targeted by the keywords mentioned earlier. While 55.44% of all clicks were directly from targeting the keyword “marketing.”

I share this to emphasize the fact you never know what portion of your ad targeting will perform best. Based on this additional data, I’d likely run future ads towards males in Ireland, targeting the keyword “marketing” only to see how it performs.