Free vs Complimentary

by areevez 39 replies
If you are promoting an offer for something that is "free" do you prefer using the word FREE or COMPLIMENTARY?
#main internet marketing discussion forum #complimentary #free
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  • Profile picture of the author JonMills
    Very good point. Try both and see what the results are
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    • Profile picture of the author vneely
      "Complimentary" has a very service industry/airline-ish flavor to me. You know, like the complimentary cup of coke-flavored ice and five micro pretzels.
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  • Profile picture of the author Dennis Gaskill
    The word "Free" is known as a well-established people magnet in marketing, advertising, and copywriting circles.
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  • Profile picture of the author James12C
    "Free" for me.

    "Complimentary" sounds creepy!
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    • Profile picture of the author rahmscorp
      FREE FREE FREE - Everyone wants something for nothing!
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  • Profile picture of the author rosetrees
    I think you mean COMPLEMENTARY. I'm sure everyone would like to be "complimented" by your free gift, but it's unlikely to happen - unless it's a talking teddy bear.
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  • Complimentary always meas there something i dont know....
    its the same with free but atleast they are tru to the words
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  • Profile picture of the author seobro
    OK some email filters kick out anything with the word free in it - FREEdom even. That is why I use {gratis, comp, zero cost, bonus} to get around the filter.

    Also, for sadsense users. Many advertisers filter out for the word free to prevent their ads from on "freebie sites" showing up. So make sure it does not appear. That means anywhere on any of your pages.
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  • Profile picture of the author TylerF
    Sounds the same.
    If you're going to use it in copywriting, test it and report the results.

    We would love to hear it.
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  • Profile picture of the author kwality
    Free, is a proven sales and marketing tool. Always stick with what works.
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  • Profile picture of the author areevez
    good results here, me personally think complimentary with an I is the best, thanks to alexa who caught my drift, more like we appreciate your business, go here for a complimentary (blank) basically thinking it can work, but I will try both and track and return results
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  • Profile picture of the author krharper
    FREE. Everybody knows what it means and it works.
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  • Profile picture of the author KristiDaniels
    I can't find my test results.

    I have tested that one to death though.

    The correct answer a vast majority of the time is...

    Complimentary

    At least in the umpteen tests I did.
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    • Profile picture of the author Claude Whitacre
      Originally Posted by KristiDaniels View Post

      I can't find my test results.

      I have tested that one to death though.

      The correct answer a vast majority of the time is...

      Complimentary

      At least in the umpteen tests I did.
      Me too. I did a split test on e-mails to my list, and "Complimentary" won. I don't remember by what percent, but it won.

      My guess is that the word sounds more like "I'm doing you a favor" than "You pay nothing". Ever go to a nice restaurant or hotel? They say "Complimentary".

      Anyway, I've also heard of a more extensive test (I think by Ryan Deiss), and "Complimentary" won there too.


      And the next person I hears say the word "Legit" is going to get choked through the computer! Do you know who says "Legit"? People that just came out of prison. Who else says "Legit"? People that wouldn't use the word "Complimentary". So There! :rolleyes:

      OK, I was just having a little fun there.
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      • Profile picture of the author JohnMcCabe
        Originally Posted by Claude Whitacre View Post

        Me too. I did a split test on e-mails to my list, and "Complimentary" won. I don't remember by what percent, but it won.

        My guess is that the word sounds more like "I'm doing you a favor" than "You pay nothing". Ever go to a nice restaurant or hotel? They say "Complimentary".

        Anyway, I've also heard of a more extensive test (I think by Ryan Deiss), and "Complimentary" won there too.


        And the next person I hears say the word "Legit" is going to get choked through the computer! Do you know who says "Legit"? People that just came out of prison. Who else says "Legit"? People that wouldn't use the word "Complimentary". So There! :rolleyes:

        OK, I was just having a little fun there.
        I just did a quick scan through one of my gmail accounts. Out of 19 headlines that promised "free" items, 17 of them pulled a bait-and-switch to BOGOS or free with purchase offers. I have a feeling that many people are starting to understand that FREE does not mean free anymore.

        I only found two headlines in the same sample that offered complimentary items, and both were no-strings freebies (if you discount the fact that I had to physically go to their business to cash in). In both cases, the complimentary items complemented items the business wanted me to buy, but no purchase was required.
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  • Profile picture of the author fulliving
    Here's a quick explanation of "Complimentary" vs. "complementary"

    These two words sound exactly the same and are easily confused, but it's important for credibility to use the right one.

    "Complimentary" (with an I) means "free of charge, given as a compliment or gift." Obviously, that's not what we do except when we offer freebies.

    "Complementary" (with an E) describes that which "completes" the whole. Notice the similarity in spelling between "complete" and "complementary."

    I hope this helps for your future copy.

    Malcolm
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  • Profile picture of the author mdan287
    I would prefer free because it will get more attraction than COMPLIMENTARY
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  • Profile picture of the author Paul Gram
    I'd go with "free" because it sounds more real to me and not as stuffy.
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  • Profile picture of the author MKCookins
    "free" fore sure. Lets face it - everyone likes stuff for free
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    • Profile picture of the author igorGriffiths
      I would go with free for the promotion but use complimentary on the page for an unexpected bonus.

      Complimentary according to dictionary.com means a free extra for an action taken, as in a complimentary ticket for the sauna when you book into a hotel.
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  • Profile picture of the author ceenote100
    FREE of course. Does anyone actually use the word "complimentary" in IM anyway?
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    • Profile picture of the author Alexa Smith
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      Originally Posted by ceenote100 View Post

      FREE of course. Does anyone actually use the word "complimentary" in IM anyway?
      Yes.

      And according to post #15 above, it's at least one person's regular winner, when split-tested against "free".
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  • Profile picture of the author Inspired, Inc.
    I always use the word FREE... coz it never fails to catch attention...
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  • Profile picture of the author brentb
    In all my experience, FREE works best with the exception of email messages, since FREE will get you autospammed so I use complimentary.
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  • Profile picture of the author kemasdimas
    I think using "FREE" is preferable, it can be easily understood and just plain simple

    "Complimentary"... like something I've heard in bar / pub, just like "Complimentary Drink" or so
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  • Profile picture of the author TiffanyLambert
    I would also think it could sometimes depend on the niche. If it's the MMO niche then by all means go with FREE but if it's something a little more upscale - even a gourmet tangible niche or something, then I might expect to see "complimentary copy of..."

    Tiff
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    • Profile picture of the author Claude Whitacre
      Originally Posted by TiffanyDow View Post

      I would also think it could sometimes depend on the niche. If it's the MMO niche then by all means go with FREE but if it's something a little more upscale - even a gourmet tangible niche or something, then I might expect to see "complimentary copy of..."

      Tiff
      I agree. It is more upscale.

      You other guys and gals: Did you notice that the three of us (I'm tired, it may be two and I'm hallucinating), that actually tested, found complimentary to win?

      I'll also say this. The people on my list are not upscale people for the most part. They own small businesses. No wine stores, Cigar emporiums...just guys that fix cars, change the oil, inspect your home, get rid of termites, and other very "blue collar" jobs.

      In my retail store, I say "Here, with my compliments". For some reason I don't say "Free" in most conversations.

      Maybe I just want to sound more legit. ....I mean Legitimate. :rolleyes:

      Watch; People will still debate this, even after all the results have show the answer. I love it.
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  • Profile picture of the author Shan54
    Everyone knows what "free" means. Not everyone understands what "complimentary" means.
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  • Profile picture of the author seasoned
    According to the FTC, free means ****FREE****! Complimentary could mean some added bonus that goes with it, or free.

    Steve
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  • Profile picture of the author Randall Magwood
    Free is better. Complimentary requires me to think a little bit.
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  • Profile picture of the author freeburd
    Originally Posted by areevez View Post

    If you are promoting an offer for something that is "free" do you prefer using the word FREE or COMPLIMENTARY?
    People search for free things. I personally do not know anybody who would search for 'complementary' items.

    You cannot use 'FREE' in advertising on Google. They will not allow it. You can, however, use 'Free'. The word 'free' is a huge attraction for crowds that works and is used in advertising widely.

    I do have a warning: anything free attracts tire kickers. Use free stuff to attract people but try to sell something immediately.
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  • Profile picture of the author Rossome
    Would love to see the split test results on this on a site that gets decent traffic. Interesting!

    -Travis
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  • Profile picture of the author bigdaleln
    Free means no money involved where complimentary means you buy something and this is an added bonus.
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    • Profile picture of the author JohnMcCabe
      Originally Posted by Shan54 View Post

      Everyone knows what "free" means. Not everyone understands what "complimentary" means.
      Apparently, not everyone knows what "free" means. They know what it's supposed to mean, and exploit that for offers that are anything but.

      If there is room to parse sentences to get any desired meaning, people will use it. Heck, we even have an ex-President who wanted to debate the meaning of the word "is"...:rolleyes:
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  • Profile picture of the author neodarth
    Between Free or Complimentary or No Cost or Zero Cost, or Gift, or nothing to pay, or kostenlos or libero or gratuit or gratis or whatever you want to put... copywriting speaking... FREE often pops up more is shorter and people related to it more.

    Of course you can always split test and see which word converts best.
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