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Constant Contact Email Marketing - Review 2019

Constant Contact (which begins at $20 per month) provides an attractive user interface (UI) and a useful set of features for the price. For those who want to try out some of the features without committing, the company offers a 60-day free trial. In this review, I will look specifically at the Email plan, which supports up to 500 contacts. While Campaigner and Mailchimp remain our Editors' Choice picks in our email marketing software review roundup, Contact Constant is a close runner-up.

How does Constant Contact stack up against the competition for businesses with 2,500 contacts in their marketing database? For one thing, it carries a rather high $45-per-month price tag. However, while many email marketing tools also have a cap on how many messages you can send in a month, Constant Contact doesn't. Most of Constant Contact's customers are microbusinesses with between one and 10 employees with limited time to deal with newsletters.

But while Constant Contact does well as an email marketing solution, it's following the pattern of several of its competitors, including Mailchimp, in that it's looking to expand its feature set beyond just email. Last year, the company added an array of features that focus on marketing automation, integration, segmentation, and personalization. These included a 160-plus template library and a branded template builder that can create an email to match a company's website with a minimum of clicks. Constant Contact also added several integrations, partnering with Eventbrite and Shopify, among others.

And in October of 2019, Constant Contact announced even more feature expansion, including the addition of in-app Facebook and Instagram ad creation, social media tools around posting and monitoring, the ability to generate a Google My Business entry from inside Constant Contact, an SEO tool for optimizing things like keyword usage, and even a Landings page feature, which makes it easy to create a call-to-action landing page to flesh out your digital marketing outreach. There's even an in-app Google Ad creation tool that, according to Constant Contact, is powered by artifical intelligence so users can simple "create and forget" as the tool will optimizing keyword usage continuously based on performance analysis.

Pricing and Features

Constant Contact offers two kinds of plans according to the size of the customer's email list. The lower tier is called Email, and begins at $20 per month for up to 500 subscribers running up to $335 per month for up to 50,000 subscribers. Custom plans are available if your list contains 50,000 or more. The next tier is called Email Plus, and begins at $45 per month for up to 500 subscribers; it also tops out at $335 per month for up to 50,000 subscribers.

The Email plans offer features that most small businesses need to start an email marketing campaign, including list management, template building and customization, and audience segmentation, among several others. Email Plus is for companies with more sophisticated needs, offering A/B testing, automated email series, event marketing and registration, online donations, online survey creation and management, and more.

The free trial gives you access to all of these features for 60 days, including unlimited campaigns, but you can only send emails to 100 contacts. The trial is a great way to get used to the platform for a limited number of messages. Then you can upgrade to a paid plan when you're ready. The free trial doesn't automatically roll over and you can still access your data without signing up. There is also a 60-day money-back guarantee, which is generous compared to most of the competition.

Constant Contact - Dashboard

Creating Subscriber Lists

There are several ways to add contacts to Constant Contact: copy and paste, manually type addresses into a form, upload a file (CSV, TXT, XLS, or XLSX), import from Gmail, or pull from Microsoft Outlook and other customer relationship management (CRM) tools.

Adding contacts manually, by file upload, via Gmail import, or using CRM migration options was all easy to do and the process worked as promised. I uploaded four Microsoft Excel and CSV documents with overlapping contacts and the uploads were fast; Constant Contact merged duplicate contacts. I had to map a few fields and add a new custom field, which was also easy to do. Like Campaigner, Constant Contact allows Mailinator and other disposable addresses, which expire after a brief amount of time. Disposable addresses are also called "burner email addresses." It's too bad most services don't follow the example of GetResponse, which filters out known disposable domains.

Constant Contact lets you assign tags to contacts, which is helpful if you need to track things such as how they signed up, if they are loyalty members, or other details. There are also options for Shopify options such as lapsed customers. You can also create segments of users based on location, interests, and other information you have collected from your contacts.

My only quibble with the Contact Manager is that it's a pain to edit user records. If you want to add more detail to several contacts, then you have to load each record and update the fields. I would prefer if I could have done a quick edit from the main list of contacts, which would make the process less tedious. Of course, the best way to avoid this is to have a spreadsheet with complete information in the first place.

Constant Contact also lets you create forms via that customers can use to sign up for emails and newsletters. It also offers landing pages, and integrations with OptinMonster, Facebook Lead Ads, and Facebook Join My List App. You can segment the users based on whether they used the sign-up form or other methods, which can be useful.

Like its competitors, Constant Contact requires you to verify that you already have consent from your entire list—no bought lists allowed! You also cannot use group addresses such as [email protected] or [email protected] addresses or distribution lists since there is no way to verify you have consent from every person receiving messages sent to that address.

Constant Contact - Contact Upload Page

Setting Up Campaigns

When you're ready to create a campaign, you can choose from Email, Email Automation, Event, and Survey. If you want to revisit a campaign or copy it, you can search for campaigns by date or keywords or view the recent tab. Constant Contact also has an integrated marketing calendar so you can schedule emails based on holidays or other events.

For an email campaign, you can use a template to get started. Constant Contact has a drag-and-drop editor with a variety of layout options and few restrictions. The editing tool lets you tweak text, with access to Google fonts as well as images, and colors.

You can also add a blog post teaser and import PDFs which transform into interactive emails. Constant Contact also has a branded template builder which can grab your company's logo, color scheme, and social media links, and incorporate it all into your emails.

There's also a media library in which you can store your company's assets, such as logos and other images. The image library now allows 2 gigabytes (GB) of storage, with a maximum file size of 5 MB. Users can also access free and paid stock photos directly through Constant Contact. The image editor includes filters, text, frames, cropping, and more.

Once you are satisfied with your newsletter, you can send it right away or schedule it for later (in 5-minute intervals, such as 3:05 a.m., 3:10 a.m., and so on). You can also send recurring emails for birthdays and anniversaries, though there's no option to send messages on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis like Campaigner offers, or to send messages based on the local time at the recipient's location, as GetResponse does.

Constant Contact has a variety of integration options, including Shopify and Eventbrite. The Eventbrite integration enables subscribers to RSVP, respond to polls, download coupons, and make donations right from the email. You can also add products and Buy buttons directly to your email. You can also create Abandoned Shopping Cart emails to follow up with potential customers.

Constant Contact -Campaign Types

Tracking Campaigns

Once you have sent a newsletter, you can track its success by using the Reporting tab. The dashboard displays the basics, including opens, click-throughs, bounces, and unsubscribe requests. You can also see your most-engaged subject line and opens on desktop versus mobile.

Constant Contact has a video tutorial that walks you through what all of your reports mean, and a wealth about information about crafting subject lines and improving the open rate. The mobile application is handy if you need to see the campaign performance on your mobile device.

You can also resend your campaign to subscribers who didn't open it, and you can also change the subject line. The Report page is also where you can see the results of subject line A/B tests. Click any email to see a heat map of where subscribers are interacting.

Constant Contact - Templates

Email Automation

To create an automated series (previously called an "autoresponder"), select Email Automation from the Campaign options. Start by selecting an email trigger: open the email, click any link, click a specific link, and a contact will join a list. Then you can create a new email or use one of your existing campaigns. Then select how long you want to wait until you send the follow-up email or if you want to send it immediately. Finally, add as many email follow-up emails as you want to the series.

You can also send an email series to a specific set of contacts, such as a day-by-day guide to getting started with your service or follow-ups to an event. Just segment your contacts into different folders and match them up with automated series.

Customer Support

Constant Contact is easy to use and has plenty of help options, beginning with the Information icons helpfully located next to Options and fields explaining what they are. There are also extensive Knowledge Base (KB) articles, coaches available at a toll-free number, and contextual help located on each dashboard.

Phone support is not available 24/7, but the hours are still generous. It's available from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday to Thursday, 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. on Fridays, and 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays. Chat is also available, and you can also interact with customer support via Twitter.

Good Tool for Time-Constrained Businesses

Constant Contact is a good marketing tool that's an excellent choice for small businesses. Those could be companies new to email marketing or ones that can't spend a lot of time on email marketing.

Constant Contact also has plenty of advanced features such as email automation, reporting tools, and integrations. With all of its recent upgrades, Constant Contact is edging closer to our email marketing software Editors' Choices, Campaigner and Mailchimp.

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