There are so many websites online today that if you were an eCommerce retailer or even someone hoping to reach out and provide free information, you’d probably be right to worry. In a world of push notifications and aggressive marketing, being able to reach out through email is critical. Email marketing can be a fantastic way to drive traffic to your site if done correctly.
Among a host of other email marketing tools, ConstantContact is a name that comes up constantly (no pun intended). Aside from its core competency in email marketing, the site has also expanded to include other marketing related services which is a plus.
Today we’ll be looking at what Constant Contact offers and the experience you can expect if you decide to give it a go.
Keeping in mind that Constant Contact’s primary focus is in email marketing, once you’ve registered account you’ll have the opportunity to create an email list, enter your contact information and then create your first email.
Contact information is mandatory and for those of you who are new to email marketing this is an area to take note of. Many countries today have strict laws regarding data privacy and personal data. Please be aware of these laws and ensure that you’re in compliance with them before you send out any marketing emails!
1. Creating a list
Your subscriber list is the heart of your email marketing campaign and consists of all the email addresses that you want to reach out to. Entering them one at a time would be a new form of insanity, so Constant Contact has several easy ways to fill your list.
The quickest and easiest methods are to upload them in the form of a file, directly import them from a Gmail contact list or even extract them from Microsoft Outlook. If you’re uploading the list in a file, note that Constant Contact recognizes Comma Separated Values (CSV), Excel and plain text formats.
2. Running your email marketing campaigns
Once you’ve got your email list sorted out, you’ll be ready to embark on an email marketing campaign.
To help you in this Constant Contact has a very large repository of templates to get you started. Even better, there’s a visual editor which you can use to modify any of those templates to suit your needs. In fact, you can get a preview of some of those templates before you sign up for Constant Contact.
Each of the templates includes all the basic information necessary for your email to comply with most standard regulations. This includes the inclusion of a physical address for your business, the mandatory unsubscribe link as well as some other useful information.
If you’ve got your own media such as logos or proprietary images, those can be uploaded to the system and used in your newsletters as well. You’re allowed up to 2GB of storage, so it’s unlikely you’ll run out anytime soon.
Once you’ve named, edited and are satisfied with the email campaign you’ve designed, you can save it and either send it immediately or schedule it for a later, automated delivery time and date. Constant Contact follows Australian Western Standard Time (AWST), so you’ll have to convert your local time following that to schedule emails correctly.
The one slight flaw which I felt important is that there does not appear to be any way in which the system could be configure to auto-respond to user replies. What Constant Contact consider as auto-respond is more like a trigger effect that happens at pre-set times to release a series of emails.
3. Checking the results of your campaigns
Following any campaign, you can see the results of it under the Reporting Tab.
Constant Contact has an easy-to read graph of your results and includes vital statistics such as click rate and open rates. If you decide to integrate Google Analytics, more information will be available. Aside from single campaign results, you can also match your results across various campaigns.
4. Constant Contact Apps and Integrations
Constant Contact has an eye-opening list of over 300 apps and other modules which you can integrate into your main account. These range from the simple email import apps such as for your Google or Outlook accounts all the way to working with Zoho and Azureplus for Customer Relationship Management and Automated Lead Management and Sales Forecasting.
The apps are listed in a Marketplace where they can be sorted in a similar fashion to WordPress plug-ins, by name, ratings, reviews, or even when they were added. These apps offer the unprecedented ability to immensely scale up your email marketing.
Updates: Constant Contact now work with Zapier
You can now manage your email list more effectively with Zapier. Some automation (or, “zap”) you can now do with Zapier + Constant Contact include:
Add new JotFrom submissions,
Send Gravity Forms submission,
Add new Salesforce leads,
Add Contacts from Google Contacts or Google Sheets,
Add Contacts to Google Contacts or Google Sheets,
Add new MailChimp subscribers, and
Updates existing Constant Contacts when new Eventbrite attendees are created.
5. Event Management
This is something that most email marketing tools have not really included yet. As an additional module to your account, you can sign up for event management in Constant Contact. This lets you email an event invitation and have the user fill in their replies. Those replies get filed in the system and you can track registrations right from the comfort of the Dashboard.
This is a very simple feature that could be so useful to many businesses. In fact, you can even solicit donations for certain event through the email that can link to a custom donations page. Unfortunately, there is an additional monthly fee for this.
6. Additional Resources and Support
As one of the top names in the email marketing game, Constant Contact wants you to succeed in your campaigns. To that end, it has a big repository of online resources which you can call upon for help. All you have to do is to choose what industry you’re in and you’ll get campaign ideas and even suggestions as to what templates would be suitable for your needs.
Aside from that the system also comes with a knowledge base that holds the answers to many common issues that past users have faced. This includes both articles as well as video tutorials. If that still hasn’t solved whatever issues you’re facing, there is also an extensive support system.
Constant contact comes with chatbot help, email support, an active user community as well as direct call phone lines from the US, Canada, Mexico and the UK. There is another line that supports calls from other international areas. Phone support is not 24/7 but the time supported is generous.
For those truly desperate for assistance, Constant Contact also offers limited help on the weekends via its Twitter account.
Constant Contact Pricing
Constant contact offers two main variants; Email and Email Plus. Email is a basic single user version and does not allow email automation, event marketing, online donations, surveys and polls or the use of coupons.
Aside from that, everything else is priced on a tier basis depending on the size of your email list. Prices range from the low end of 500 subscribers at $20 per month all the way to 50,000 subscribers at $335 per month. Those who have even bigger lists must deal with them directly for pricing.
If you opt for the add-on event management feature, be prepared to pay an extra $45 per month at least, depending on the size of your marketing list.
For new users, Constant Contact comes with a 60-day trial period, during which you’ll be able to enjoy all the benefits of an Email Plus account. The only difference is that you’re limited to a list size of 100 during your trial period.
Constant Contact vs Mail Chimp
Features / Pricing
Constant Contact Basic
Constant Contact Plus
Below 2,000 subscribers and 12,000 emails per month
For the past decade, The Vin Bin has been proving its expertise by offering customers a sophisticated variety of wines, craft beers, spirits, artisanal cheeses and gourmet foods. The brainchild of Rick Lombardi, this specialty store has grown from strength to strength and has made his passion a thriving business.
Constant Contact has been one of the tools that Rick uses and he credits it with being a big part of his success. The system offered him an affordable way to build customer relationships, and bring them to Vin Bin. Rick and many others like him have leveraged on email marketing to empower their business and increase growth.
With more than 650,000 customers served over 15 years, Constant Contact has become a leader in small business marketing. They offer a special blend of expert knowledge, efficient core competency as well as strong support system.
Personally, having used a few email marketing platforms before, Constant Contact feels pretty good. It has all the facilities (and more) that a professional site would offer while at the same time having a simplified user interface that won’t overly intimidate. Once you factor in that solid support system, I’d say that this is a real winner.
Free 60-day Trial Period
Easy contact list importin
Impressive list of add-ons
Strange auto-respond system
Jerry Low’s Note
I use MailChimp for WHSR Newsletter. About a year ago, Constant Contact offers me a free account. I did not switch due to several reasons:
Cheaper cost in long run – MailChimp is 5 – 10% cheaper than its competitors.
I am happy with MailChimp email builder – Hence I am not in the mood to try out others (why fix something when it’s not broken?).
And most of all, I have spent huge efforts and money to master the usage of MailChimp and to setup my current email automation system. The cost of switching out-weight the money I can save from the free account.
That said, Constant Contact, in my opinion, is easily one of the top three contenders in email marketing tools.
They are like the advance version of MailChimp.
Constant Contact’s pricing is slightly higher but you’ll get what you pay for. Some marketing features, such as SMS marekting, real-time sales alerts, social CRM, easy users segmentation, and invoicing (which you can’t get at MailChimp), could be vital for large business organization. For starters, I recommend reading success stories at Constant Contact’s site to learn more.
Timothy Shim is a writer, editor, and tech geek. Starting his career in the field of Information Technology, he rapidly found his way into print and has since worked with International, regional and domestic media titles including ComputerWorld, PC.com, Business Today, and The Asian Banker. His expertise lies in the field of technology from both consumer as well as enterprise points of view.