Constant Contact Review
- Easy to use
- Numerous templates
- Numerous features
- Poor public reputation
- High monthly cost
By now, most people are at least tangentially familiar with the Constant Contact brand. This familiarity is partly thanks to the company’s aggressive marketing plan geared towards non-marketers who want to take control of their email campaigns. Constant Contact offers an integrated suite of related email marketing tools in addition to its core email service in what’s now called the Email Plus plan. With the additional features, you’ll find that both here and in its peripheral services, such as design and marketing advisers, it’s clear that Constant Contact aims to provide a fully encompassing digital marketing solution for small businesses.
Constant Contact aims to become the one-stop-shop for small businesses looking to break into the digital marketing world. But while it delivers, it does so at premium prices. Even the basic subscription price exceeds industry averages — and offers fewer features than its competitors to boot. Unless you fall in love with this software’s particular implementation of common features, it’s difficult to recommend Constant Contact over some of its competitors. For all the details, keep reading here for our full review.
Table of Contents
Constant Contact offers two pricing plans, both of which are list-based (that is, based on your number of subscribers). The program tallies subscribers according to the total number of unique email addresses in all lists (so if you have the same contact in three lists, it counts as only one contact). Constant Contact does collect sales tax in nine states; nonprofits can file for tax-exempt status.
You can try out the Email Plus plan for up to 500 contacts as a free 60-day trial, no credit card required. Prepaid plans can save you up to 15% for prepaying six or 12 months in advance. Verified 501(c)(3) nonprofits can prepay and get double the discount at 30%. Successfully referring a friend will net you a $30 credit.
Keep in mind that Constant Contact frequently iterates on its pricing model, so pricing may vary. There are two additional packages available for franchises and associations, but you’ll need to call Constant Contact for the details.
The Email plan includes unlimited email campaigns, one user, 1GB of image and document storage, and unlimited contact storage. Costs vary by subscriber number:
- 0-500 Subscribers: $20/month
- 501-2,500 Subscribers: $45/month
- 2,501-5,000 Subscribers: $65/month
- 5,001-10,000 Subscribers: $95/month
The Email Plus plan includes everything on the Email plan and adds dynamic content blocks, subject line A/B testing, event marketing, online donations, surveys, polls, and coupons, plus campaigns with multi-user functionality (up to 10 users), unlimited contact storage, and up to 2GB image storage. Costs vary by subscriber number:
- 0-500 Subscribers: $45/month
- 501-2,500 Subscribers: $70/month
- 2,501-5,000 Subscribers: $95/month
- 5,001-10,000 Subscribers: $125/month
- 10,001-15,000 Subscribers: $195/month
- 15,001-25,000 Subscribers: $225/month
- 25,001-30,000 Subscribers: $295/month
- 30,001-35,000 Subscribers: $315/month
- 35,001-50,000 Subscribers: $335/month
- 50,001+ Subscribers: Custom pricing
Additional Services & Fees
Constant Contact has an extensive knowledgebase and library of available tools, such as webinars, seminars, and training as well as the user community. Additionally, it offers several ancillary services for a fee, including professional marketing services with a dedicated marketing manager, consultative design services, and animated template packs.
If you exceed the monthly limit on your plan, you will automatically be upgraded to the appropriate plan the following month. If you are on a prepaid plan, this will automatically renew as a monthly plan once you reach the end of the prepaid term (unless you cancel or pay for another prepaid plan).
Image Hosting & Associated Charges
The Email plan includes 1GB of online image storage; the Email Plus plan includes 2GB of online image storage.
Web-Based Or Locally-Installed
Constant Contact is cloud-based, with no downloads or installation required.
Hardware & Software Requirements
Proper functioning of Constant Contact requires Windows XP or higher and/or Mac 10.4 or higher. The program supports Google Chrome, Safari, Mozilla Firefox, and Constant Contact’s third-generation editor now supports Microsoft Edge (version 15 or higher).
Constant Contact may work with an older version of a supported browser, but you may lose some functionality, so make sure that whatever browser you use that you’re running the latest update. The company offers a free app for iOS and Android.
Specific Size Of Business
This software is built for and best suited to small businesses. You can now set roles and associated permissions for individual account users. This improves Constant Contact’s functionality for businesses with multiple employees.
Ease Of Use
On the whole, the software is simple and intuitive. Plenty of help is available if you should run into problems, and with straightforward headings, you won’t get lost. Constant Contact somewhat helpfully uses the category “List Growth Tools” to encompass signup forms and widgets for embedding into WordPress and Facebook. You can also define a generic welcome letter there. Somewhat unique to Constant Contact is the Library page, from which you can manage your locally-stored images.
Constant Contact offers a what-you-see-is-what-you-get (WYSIWYG) editor with over 240 custom-designed, mobile-responsive email templates, a simple image editor, and easy access to a CSS style sheet. You can also edit the HTML code for any text block, image, or other elements in your email. If you want more control over the look of your message, you can code templates from scratch using HTML or XHTML.
Constant Contact’s WYSIWYG editor is above par. High points include the ability to wrap text around an image and easy spell checking (including the subject line, an element that’s often overlooked). With a drag-and-drop interface and a built-in image editor, the program makes it easy to create a professional-looking email quickly. The vast majority of the templates are mobile-friendly; you actually have to dig to find ones that aren’t. But while you’ll get to see a thumbnail of your campaign before you send it, you cannot preview how your campaign will look on different devices.
Sending The Email
Creating a contact list is straightforward and easier than in many ESPs. If you have an existing list, you’ll need to remove any “role” addresses (such as sales@ or marketing@), as these aren’t permitted under Constant Contact’s anti-spam policy. You’ll also need to certify that any addresses you enter have been obtained through opt-in means. There are several ways in which you can enter/import your list:
- Type In One Contact: Add contacts one by one. Constant Contact’s form provides plenty of room for you to enter details, such as physical address and phone number; you can even create custom text or date fields to add to your contacts’ profiles.
- Type Or Paste Contacts: Allows you to add contact information (up to five fields) for multiple contacts (to facilitate quicker data entry). Alternatively, you can copy and paste a block of names and emails (or just emails) into a single text field.
- Upload From File: Upload an .xls, .xlsx, .csv, or .txt file.
- Add From Other Apps: Import a contact list from Google, Outlook, Outlook Express, Salesforce, Quickbooks, ACT! CRM, or use the Contact Capture tool to import information from your desktop. You can expand that list with integrations.
Setting up multiple lists is easy and intuitive; you can quickly copy contacts from one list to another and set up as many lists as you like. Once your contact lists are in order, sending an email campaign is as easy as the click of a button. You can either send the campaign immediately or specify a time and date you would like it to go out.
In a recent update, Constant Contact added a feature that re-sends your emails to subscribers that did not open them, increasing the chances of your messages getting read.
Constant Contact offers a variety of standard features as well as a few additional frills through its Plus Campaigns:
- Email Designer: Includes a WYSIWYG drag-and-drop editor. Users can select from preset templates or code their own. The interface includes support for simple photo editing. Users also have access to hundreds of stock images that they may use and alter free of charge. In a recent update, Constant Contact redesigned its editor to allow for mobile responsive messages and generally a more positive experience creating great emails.
- List Growth Tools: Web and social media signup forms enable you to grow your list through legitimate, opt-in means. You can also create a scan-to-join QR code to add to printed materials (such as fliers) or use the Text-to-Join feature, so people can join your list with a single text.
- Analytics & Reports: All users have access to basic reports, including raw and percentage data for opens, clicks, spam reports, unsubscribes, and bounces.
- List Segmentation: You can segment your lists (for instance, by past purchases, interests, or location) to direct tailored content to each segment.
- Autoresponders: Autoresponders allow users to engage with their subscribers one-on-one by sending automated new subscriber emails, birthday messages, purchase follow-ups, and more. Only available with the Plus plan.
- Reports: When it comes to reporting, Constant Contact sticks to the basics: opens, clicks, spam reports, unsubscribes, and bounces. You can view both total and unique opens, and you can also view a list of individual subscribers who opened your email or clicked on a link. Additionally, you can see contact growth by source, which is handy if you want to see where new subscribers are coming from. Finally, you can select an industry and compare your stats against the industry average. One peculiar quirk: real-time reporting is not the default option. You’ll need to enable it before sending your campaign. The information is easy to read, and it’s available as raw numbers or in bar graph format. Reports can also be downloaded as .csv files. On the whole, I found the reports helpful but basic. While its Google Analytics integration is useful, the program lacks the onboard functionality of some of its peers.
Customer Service & Support
Tutorials and pop-ups should make your first experience with Constant Contact a breeze. My initial phone interaction with the company was terrific. I didn’t have to wait on hold, the support rep gave me exactly the information I needed, and she stayed on the line long enough to verify that everything was working correctly on my end. I got the feeling that she would have patiently walked me through even the simplest of processes step-by-step if needed. Online chat support representatives were prompt and helpful.
Constant Contact offers the following support resources:
- Phone: Constant Contact can be reached by phone. Hours are Monday-Thursday 8 AM-10 PM EST, Friday 8 AM-9 PM EST, and Saturday 10 AM-8 PM EST.
- Email: You can contact the company via email.
- Live Chat: Available Monday-Friday 7 AM-9 PM EST.
- Knowledgebase: Constant Contact’s knowledgebase consists of an extensive FAQ. Questions are arranged by topic; you can browse or enter a relevant term into the search bar. There are loads of available articles.
- Social Media: Constant Contact is quite active on Facebook; users will often get a response in under an hour, though in many cases, that response will simply be a direction to email customer service. The company generally posts to Twitter five to seven times a day, with links to blog articles, videos, and small business tips.
- Webinars: Constant Contact offers a variety of live and pre-recorded webinars on topics such as “Getting Started with Social Campaigns” and “Online Surveys That Work.” Most are free, but some carry a $49 charge. Live webinars are generally offered Monday-Thursday, with multiple webinars available most days.
- Blog: The company blog supplies an abundance of articles with industry news and tips for email marketing.
- Community Forums: The community forums provide a place for Constant Contact users to compare campaigns, discuss marketing, and share thoughts on Constant Contact.
Negative Reviews & Complaints
As one of the more well-known ESPs, Constant Contact has its detractors as well as supporters. It has received 45 complaints with the BBB over the last three years. Nearly all of the 19 user reviews posted on the BBB site are negative, and there are over 260 reports filed on RipOffReport.
Here are some of the most common complaints:
- Pushy Sales Tactics: This is one of the most common complaints. Sales reps from Constant Contact can be a tad bit on the aggressive side.
- Lacking Functions: The complaints here are varied: not enough reports, not enough options, not enough tools, poor integrations with popular programs such as Salesforce. Also, some say slow development is a problem.
- Email Editor: Some complain that the editor is cumbersome and that it’s too easy to miss a “save” command and lose work as a result. Other problems include difficulties with editing HTML, emails that show up differently in inboxes than they did in the preview, templates that are too hard to work with, and not enough template selection.
- Unfair Charges: Like any other ESP, Constant Contact needs to watch out for spammers. If your account shows warning signs, the company can freeze it and conduct a compliance review. Note: this doesn’t terminate your account.
Positive Reviews & Testimonials
Constant Contact has many happy users, particularly in its target demographic (people new to the email marketing scene). The company gets an A+ from the BBB and 4/5 stars based on 4,233 reviews at G2 Crowd. At the app stores, Constant Contact has an average of 4.7/5 stars with 6K ratings at the Apple Store and 3/5 stars with 460 ratings on the Google Play app store.
Here are the most common accolades for the software:
- Ease Of Use: This is Constant Contact’s biggest selling point, and it gets a lot of praise in this area. Many users who consider themselves technologically challenged praise the interface for being relatively intuitive and easy to understand.
- Full Suite Of Services: Users like the variety of social media and survey tools accessible through Plus campaigns.
- Templates: There are tons of templates now, and the ability to edit the HTML of individual elements gives users quite a bit of control over the look of their campaigns.
Integrations & Add-Ons
Constant Contact offers nearly 500 apps and integrations; the company also provides APIs for developers. Here are a few of the most popular offerings:
- Google Analytics: This is the most widely used marketing analytics program on the market. Users can set up each of their Constant Contact emails to integrate with a pre-existing Google Analytics account. This integration keeps track of the statistics for views and downloads from website traffic generated via each email, unique website visits, conversions from each email, and each user’s activity on your site. Users can also see if click-throughs originate within an email or through social network shares associated with it.
- Eventbrite: Promote your events, track responses, and manage your registrations with the Eventbrite app.
- WordPress: Link Constant Contact with the most popular platform for blog and website building. The WordPress integration adds an easy-to-use signup sheet to any WordPress-managed blog or website to help users build their email list. It is also possible to manage contacts from within WordPress.
- PayPal: Companies with a PayPal account can insert a payment button into any email created through Constant Contact.
- Shopify: You can now display your products directly in your emails when making use of the Shopify integration.
- Amazon: Affiliate links, payment buttons, and links to products sold through Amazon (e.g., eBooks) can be inserted right into Constant Contact emails.
- Salesforce: Probably one of the most popular marketing tools out there, Salesforce is a CRM program that only recently integrated with Constant Contact. Though users can send reports from Salesforce into Constant Contact, there are still problems with the relationship between these two programs. Namely, Constant Contact data does not flow back to Salesforce, making metric tracking more complicated. This means that any data points and segmentation cannot be accomplished within Salesforce; they must instead be run in Constant Contact.
- Social Media Integrations: Because of the integral connection between social media and email marketing, it is important to look at the social-media-specific aspects of Constant Contact.
- Facebook App: The Constant Contact Facebook app helps users grow their permission-based email marketing lists via a simple signup function on their company Facebook pages.
- Simple Share: Once an email is complete, users who link their business’s social accounts with Constant Contact can post the email to all their social media sites with one easy click.
- Plus Campaigns: Plus Campaigns include Constant Contact’s former “Social Campaigns” offering, helping you to run a promotion (such as a coupon or sweepstakes) on Facebook.
Constant Contact is privy to the private information of millions of people. As a result, the company takes security very seriously. Constant Contact uses SSL encryption to protect the personal and credit card information of its subscribers and complies with Payment Card Industry (PCI) security standards and the Sarbanes-Oxley Act.
Constant Contact’s approach to security is what the company labels “defense in depth”: layered firewalls, vulnerability assessments, software quality-assurance practices, and network-based intrusion detection. A team from around the world monitors the servers 24/7/365.
While the company specifies that it will not sell or rent your information without your consent, it does reserve the right to use your personal information for marketing purposes — and to share that information with “carefully-selected third parties” for “co-marketing activities.” You can opt-out of receiving such communications by emailing the support team.
Anti-Spam Policy & Protection
I’ve generally been lukewarm on Constant Contact in the past. That said, the company has been making adjustments to the program and pricing tiers that make it worth another look. Constant Contact is still a tad on the pricey side compared to other simple, streamlined ESPs, but the functionality of the Email plan isn’t bad by any means.
The program is good at what it does, and the company has done a fabulous job of making email marketing feel approachable for those who are new to the industry. Unfortunately, it still doesn’t offer much room to grow beyond some fairly intermediate features.
If you are looking for an easy-to-use email marketing program with a lot of support for that once-per-month newsletter or if you need all the features of Plus Campaigns and no more — Constant Contact might be a good fit for you. Otherwise, you will quickly outgrow the program.
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