iContact, an e-mail marketing firm born in the Triangle that has grown into a venture with more than 300 employees and $50 million a year in revenue, is going “free” in its latest bid to gain customers.

On Wednesday, the privately held company formed by former UNC-Chapel Hill students and friends Ryan Allis and Aaron Houghton, launched iContact Free Edition. It’s an upgrade from an earlier free trial version.

“The idea is to get more people to try us and then convert them to paying customers,” a company spokesperson said.

To help market the launch, iContact assembled 315 employees at its recently opened headquarters to spell out “Free” in the courtyard. The company also produced a video about the launch.

“We are Constant Contact’s largest competitor and the largest private provider of email marketing software to small and mid-sized businesses,” said Allis.

“We believe having iContact Free Edition will enable us to help more companies and causes succeed with e-mail marketing and social marketing.”

Get the latest news alerts: Follow WRAL Tech Wire at Twitter.