As a current – or soon-to-be – owner/manager of an ecommerce store, I'm sure I don't need to tell you much about the importance or value of email marketing for your business. Suffice it to say that email marketing has been proven to be one of the most profitable online marketing methods, without a doubt.
There are many benefits to email marketing that make it a much more effective option to targetting customers than say, social media or Google Adwords. Some of the benefits include:
- List building – email marketing gives you the opportunity to build your subscriber list. This enables you to monitor their behaviour and segment them based on purchases, which results in highly targeted marketing
- Cost-effective – the majority of email software providers offer a very economic monthly subscription. A lot of companies offer a wide range of packages to fit the number of subscribers you have. So if you are just starting out you won't be outpriced
- Personal – similar to the point on list building, not only can you make emails personal based on customer interest but you can also include their name in the subject line to increase open rates
- Measurable – there is no guesswork involved with email marketing. You can a/b test subject lines, view click and open rates and even track if anyone went to your website and purchased items as a result of an email
- Actionable – emails always put the emphasis on the customer to perform some sort of action. This may be simply replying to the email or taking advantage of an offer you've produced
- Mobile friendly – people are always checking their emails on their mobiles, so you can always be in their pocket with your email marketing
As you can see from above there are many advantages to email marketing which has resulted in there being a lot of email software providers. So which is the best? We cover a lot of email marketing apps on this blog and now it's the turn of iContact.
iContact Review: Overview
It's evident by looking at iContact's website that they know their target market. Since their inception in 2003, they have have been serving “small and medium businesses worldwide” and have labelled themselves as an “affordable email marketing solution”.
Aaron Houghton and Ryan Allis, two economic students at the University of North Carolina Chapel came up with the idea of setting up an email marketing company that was straightforward to use and was also seen as a cool place to work.
iContact is possibly the most underrated email marketing provider on the market. Perhaps they are not as well known as MailChimp for example, but they are consistently top of the leaderboard in their field.
iContact Review: Pricing
This is an area where iContact excel, as we've touched upon their market is small to medium businesses so their packages are very affordable.
What's evidently great with iContact is the amount of flexibility on offer with your subscription. If your subscriber list is 15,000 or less, your account will automatically have unlimited sending. If your subscriber list goes above 15,000, you have the choice between iContact's unlimited sending option or a discounted option which has a sending limit of 10x your current subscriber list.
Here is a list of all the varying prices, we will cover later on what the difference is between the essential and professional packages.
|Plan||Contacts||Free Trial||Monthly Price|
|Professional||35,000||30 Days||Speak to iContact|
|Professional||50,000||30 Days||Speak to iContact|
Another fantastic element of iContact's pricing structure is the additional marketing services they offer to help you grow business. Again this is great evidence of iContact knowing who their target market is:
Bronze – quarterly benefits include one account strategy call and one strategic service project (extra $200 a month)
Silver – monthly benefits include one account strategy call and one strategic service project (extra $250 a month)
Gold – monthly benefits include one account strategy call and two strategic service projects (extra $300 a month)
Premium – one monthly account strategy call, one quarterly account analytics call and one weekly strategic service project (extra $640 a month)
In regards to the strategic marketing services that iContact offer they have listed them on their website which you can see below. These range from email testing, troubleshooting to support. All of which are critical in the early days when getting to grips with email marketing.
With iContact you also have the option to pay for the first 12 months of your plan outright. If you decide to go with this then iContact offer a very generous 15% discount.
iContact's integration with Salesforce is a particularly interesting one and one which sets them apart from other email providers.
Essentially you can combine the analytical versatility of Salesforce with the send-ability of iContact directly through Salesforce, which means you don't even have to leave iContact. Salesforce allows you to slice and dice within its system then. Salesforce is the most popular CRM (customer relationship management) system in the world so this is a handy solution.
iContact Review: Features
As you can see from the table above iContact offer two packages ‘Enterprise' and ‘Professional'. The ‘Professional' package offers more advanced email marketing features such as allowing you to create landing pages, the ability to create workflows for customer journeys and lead scoring to identify a prospects chances of purchasing.
We would suggest initially taking out the ‘Enterprise' package before moving to ‘Professional' as your business grows.
Drag and Drop Editor – iContact gives you the ability to create stunning looking emails in just a matter of minutes. You have the option to choose your own layout or choose from their wide range of customizable templates
A/B Split Testing – there are many email providers who only offer this feature on the more expensive packages, however iContact offer it on their base subscription. This feature allows you to not only test subject lines but also colour schemes, layouts and the incentives you have on offer
Automation – another feature which is handily available on the first package. This allows you to put together a welcome series for a new subscriber or just to nudge other customers to revisit your website
Audience segmentation – you can divide your audience up based on certain conditions such as demographics, onsite behaviour, geography as well as their social activity
Performance reporting – no good email marketing app would be worth its salt without a good reporting functionality. Find out what's working and what isn't, the real-time data supplied by iContact ensures your decision are based on correct information
Multi-user accessibility – a lot of email providers would have this on their most expensive package, again not iContact. They believe that “collaborative marketing shouldn't cost you more”. Therefore your account can make use of unlimited users, which can easily be assigned different user permissions
Subscriber management – iContact allows you to easily embed and create custom sign-up forms for your ecommerce store. Each subscriber is assigned a score out of 100 as well which helps you to identify the customers that matter most to you
API integration – if you have an application of your own you can seamlessly link it with iContact's easy-to-use API. This also gives you the possibility of building new and innovative email marketing apps to bolt on going forward
Salesforce Integration – you can create, send and then track emails all through Salesforce without having to enter iContact. All your analytics being available in Salesforce is ideal for your sales team in unlocking leads and prospects
Social Posting and Monitoring (Professional) – post your content directly to your social channels such as Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. The monitoring tools allow you to identify trends which are happening across social networks and actively engage with your audience
Workflows (Professional) – this gives you the opportunity to build individualized workflows that can target a specific customer type, their geography or based on certain activities they've taken. Very powerful and insightful information
Landing Pages (Professional) – you can build landing pages from scratch to help to build new subscribers. Build pages that are on brand and look very close to your website
A trial plan is offered under which, you are allowed to send emails to a maximum of 100 subscribers. The free trial account is good for 30 days at the end of which you must purchase one of the paid plans to continue using iContact.
Start your free trial with iContact today.
Other Noteworthy Features
iContact has a whole host of great features which I couldn't cover above, here is a summary of some notable features
- Spamcheck on sent emails ensures that there is a high deliverability
- Availability of iPhone, iPad and Android apps
- Custom built email design templates are available from the iContact
iContact Review: Customer Support
iContact offer fantastic support for both of their packages. There are a whole host of guides and video tutorials for when you initially sign up.
There are regular webinars in which you can join in as well as support via email, live chat and phone.
Apps & Integrations
Of these, there is no shortage with iContact. Here is a partial list of noteworthy features offered by the app:
- Integration with a good number of popular ecommerce platforms such as BigCommerce, Magento and several others
- Integration with Drupal CMS (Content Management System) platforms
- Integration with several forms and survey apps like 123ContactForm, FormGet, Optincrusher etc
One integration that particularly stood out was the LiveChat integration that allows you offer newsletter sign ups to people in the pre-chat survey. This is a fantastic way of increasing your subscriber list.
Support – as well as the fantastic support via live, email and phone chat, iContact also offer varying marketing services to add on to your monthly subscription such as troubleshooting, design ideas and an email marketing audit
Advanced features – a/b testing and marketing automation aren't normally features that are offered on email marketing software base packages, however, iContact provide these very powerful tools for all users
Pricing – what you get for your money on the ‘Enterprise' package is pretty much unrivalled in the email marketing sphere and is ideal for small to medium businesses
Templates – there are over 700 templates email templates to choose from and you can also use iContacts in house team to design you templates from scratch
Accessiblity – iContact allows an unlimited amount of team members to access the software, plus it has very easy to understand admin permissions to ensure you can limit access to certain sections
Image hosting – there isn't a lot of storage for image hosting that may be offered with more sophisticated software. In order to have additional hosting this will cost you
Analytics integration – although it isn't originally advertised, Google Analytics integration costs an extra $10 a month on top if you are on the ‘Enterprise' package. It is already included with the ‘Professional' package
Is iContact Suitable for Me?
Although advertised primarily at small to medium businesses, iContact has all the functionality to upscale as your business does.
The amount of advanced features on the lower package means that you can make use of some powerful email marketing tools without having to break the bank.
Not a lot of bad things to say about iContact. They do rely heavily on their Salesforce integration, so if you don't have that as your CRM system then you won't be utilising the full capabilities of the software.
The marketing services are very helpful but can be quite expensive so those may be more suitable for more established companies.
As you would have noticed above, there is not even a single industry-standard email marketing feature for which iContact comes up short. On top of that, it comes equipped with lots of other features and functionalities not commonly found in this class of apps.
I'm sure many ‘power' users would be willing to pay premium prices for all the extras that the iContact package offers but its prices are just about on par with the industry average.
As the regular readers of this blog will know, there are a number of reviews on email marketing apps, including AWeber, ConstantContact, Customer.io, Klaviyo, MailChimp and several others. It is based on this – rather extensive – experience that I whole-heartedly recommend iContact for your email marketing operations.
Start your free trial with iContact today.