Whether you are a current ecommerce store owner or a budding online seller looking to make a start, you should hopefully be aware of the value that email marketing can bring your business.
The process of choosing the right email marketing software for your company however could leave you with a headache. There are plenty of options available and this has made the market quite saturated.
Email marketing is intrinsically linked with your sales, marketing and CRM (customer relationship management) operations. Get this right and the process of identifying when and what type of emails you should send to your cold, warm and qualified leads becomes a seamless process that can have a massive impact on your e-business.
All of the varying software options come with their own unique set of strengths and weaknesses, so careful and methodical research is required to ensure you are finding the best fit for you.
However we have made this easier for you by producing a snapshot of the pros and cons of one of the industry’s biggest players in Constant Contact.
Constant Contact Review: Overview
Constant Contact are one of the longest established email providers in the world. The company was set up in 1995, a mere 4 years after Tim Berners Lee invented the World Wide Web as we know it.
As they were around during the infancy of the internet, this has helped to instill them as a major player and they boast over 650,000 customers in 180 different countries. All of the companies using their service send a total of 200 million emails per day.
Constant Contact Review: Pricing
When looking at the pricing page you can be misled into thinking that there are just two pricing plans, one at $20 a month and one at $45.
However, if you delve a little deeper these two prices are only available if you have up to 500 contacts in your account.
For example, if you move up to 500-2500 contacts on the Email Plus package then the price will rise to $70 a month.
Both packages offer unlimited emails which is a great advantage. The only difference is that the Email Plus package offers 10 users as opposed to 1 and has a bigger file storage capacity in 2GB rather than 1GB.
Constant Contact offers a pay in advance service so that you can save on your monthly costs. Pay for 6 months up front and you will receive 10% off. Pay for 12 months and you will receive 15% off.
Free Trial Plan – a 30-day free trial is offered to you before you sign up and you can cancel at any point without being charged.
You can upload as many contacts as you like during the free trial. How many you have at the end of your free trial will determine what contract you are on.
Constant Contact Review: Features
The features listed below that include the bracket (Plus) are only available on the Email Plus package which starts at $45 as opposed to the $20 a month package.
Contact Management – very handy that you can upload your contacts from Excel or Outlook or a CRM service such as Salesforce. You have the option to personalise your contact with tags as well such as “Instagram Fan”, “Hot lead” or “Lost customer”
List-Building Tools – growing your list is essential so Constant Contact use an easily integrated sign up form that you can place on your website. Alternatively you can use their Facebook app to begin collecting contact information from your fans
Tracking & Reporting – view your sends, opens, click throughs and more with simple to understand reports. You can also compare various campaigns, view click maps and compare the performance between desktop and mobile
Customizable Templates – choose from over 100 email templates which are all mobile-responsive. If you are a small business you can also take advantage of their range of free stock images, rather than taking out a pricey subscription with a stock photo provider
Image Library – as well as accessing free images you can also purchase images through Bigstock at a discounted rate. You can also integrate with your social media platforms to enable you to easily upload from Facebook and Instagram
Marketing Calendar – an online and printable marketing calendar is available to ensure you don’t miss any important holidays
Email Scheduling – schedule your emails for the future, additionally, Constant Contact will give you feedback based on your most successful sending times, as well as the best industry standard
Mobile App – take your emails with you whilst on the go. You can view reports as well as schedule emails right from the app
Email Plus Features:
Email Automation (Plus) – allows you to schedule emails automatically for your customers. Ideal for programming emails to be sent out to celebrate birthdays and anniversaries
Event Marketing (Plus) – plan and manage attendees for upcoming pop-ups, events or fundraisers, as well as sending event invitations
Online Donations (Plus) – running a charity event? You can track donations from customers in the same place as you’d track open and click-through rates
Surveys & Polls (Plus) – choose from 7 types of survey questions, from sliding scales to multiple choice. You can also attach your polls to your Facebook page or website
Coupons (Plus) – drive sales with mobile-responsive coupons. Get real-time stats on who’s used your coupons and who’s shared it. You can also see who is interested but hasn’t used it to help you convert them into a sale
Subject Line A/B Testing (Plus) – test two subject lines with a percentage of your customers to see which has gathered the best open rate. You can then send the winning subject line to the rest of your list
Other Noteworthy Features
Managing Bounces – if an email soft bounces then it is placed on hold for 15 days before they attempt to resend. Constant Contact also offers a ‘recommended for removal’ section which can help you clear up your list as you go forward
Languages – you have the option to change to 1 of 10 different languages. These languages are mostly European
Constant Contact Review: Customer Support
Live support for both chat and calls is offered on both packages. As well as that there is also:
Knowledge Base – step by step guides, how-to articles and tutorials
Seminars & Training – webinars and tutorials available online as well as local events (mostly US)
Community – a forum is available to interact with Constant Contact users as well as a chance to express your feedback for new ideas
Apps & Integrations
Constant Contact offers 270 apps and integrations that cater from the very obvious to the very niche.
It also integrates seamlessly with Google Analytics which allows you to track the success of your campaigns once they land on your website.
Constant Contact also integrates with many of the popular CRM systems such as Salesforce. Therefore you can dip into your CRM to view your reports and plan follow up campaigns.
Deliverability – Constant Contact have one of the best deliverability rates in their field. They are exceptional in delivering to all the major email companies such as Outlook, Gmail and Yahoo
Email Choice – there is a great range of emails such as classic, newsletters, autoresponders, events, surveys and coupons
Ease of use – it’s quite simplified and there aren’t a lot of options to choose from so it’s very easy to get the hang of
Pricing – compared to their competitors they are very competitive on pricing
Templates – the amount of email templates and images at your disposal makes it very quick and easy to set up a campaign from scratch
Automation – the automation options are very basic. You have the obvious options such as birthday/anniversary reminders but it stops there. If you are looking for an all-in-one marketing automation software that also serves as a CRM system, then this isn’t for you
Email Design – despite there being a plethora of email templates and images at your disposal the design of them can be a little restrictive. This means there isn’t a lot of flexibility for editing your email campaigns or sign up forms
Is ConstantContact Suitable for Me?
If you are a small business who doesn’t have the expertise to design HTML email templates and just want an out-of-the-box solution then this is perfect for you.
The first package of up to 500 contacts at $20 is very competitive and is a great starting point. The ease of use of the system and the fantastic options available to you to increase your email list are a great starting point.
You need something more sophisticated. Constant Contact perhaps isn’t for big businesses that are at the stage where they are advanced in their marketing automation.
If you are very conscious about your branding then the templates available may disappoint you due to the fact there aren’t very customizable.
Constant Contact: Conclusion
Constant Contact is fully aware that they are a solution for small businesses and they play to that strength magnificently.
These strengths include ease of use, pricing, great integrations, plus a fantastic deliverability rate to ensure your emails are being seen and read.
The website and Facebook sign up forms can ensure that you can start building your list as soon as you start your subscription.
There are other providers who are offering more sophistication with marketing automation, however Constant Contact know what they are and they do it very well.