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Constant Contact Review

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Date Established
1995
Location
Waltham, MA

Pros

  • Easy to use
  • Numerous templates
  • Numerous features

Cons

  • Poor public reputation
  • High monthly cost

Overview

Many people are at least tangentially familiar with the Constant Contact name. This is probably because of the company’s aggressive, ubiquitous marketing plan. Until recently, Constant Contact offered an integrated suite of related marketing services in addition to its core email service: EventSpot event management software, social campaign management software, SaveLocal deals, and online surveys. In April, the company rolled all of these services into what it terms “Plus Campaigns.” With its newly integrated product, Constant Contact Toolkit, Constant Contact aims to provide an all-in-one digital marketing solution for small businesses.

The Toolkit promises convenience: one-stop shopping 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 the details, read the full review.

Pricing

Constant Contact offers two basic 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; non-profits 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 some cash: 10% off the monthly rate for 6-month plans, and 15% off for 12-month plans. Verified 501(c)(3) non-profits get double the discount. Successfully referring a friend will net you a $30 credit.

Constant Contact frequently iterates on their pricing model. They phased out their Personal Marketer product in 2016. The major consequence of this is that it caps users at three.

There are two additional packages available for franchises and associations, but you’ll need to call Constant Contact for the details.

List Based Plans

    • Email – Unlimited email campaigns for 1 user, with 1 GB of file storage Above 10,000 users, the Email Plus plan costs the same, so you might as well upgrade at that point.
      • 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
      • 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 – Call Constant Contact at (855) 825-0406 for pricing.
    • Email Plus – Unlimited email campaigns and Plus Campaigns for up to 3 users, with 2 GB of storage. This plan also adds automation, event marketing, online donations, surveys & polls, and coupons.
      • 0-500 subscribers – $45/month
      • 501-2,500 subscribers – $70/month
      • 2,501-5,000 subscribers – 
$90/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 – Call Constant Contact at (855) 825-0406 for pricing.
Compare pricing to other popular software:
ServicePricingEase of UseBusiness Size SupportedNext Steps

Free - $4,000/monthEasySmall - Large

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$0 - $1946+/monthlyAverageSmall - Large

Go to Site

$9 - $415+/monthlyAverageSmall - Large

Go to Site

Free - $10,000/monthlyEasySmall - Large

Go to Site

Additional Services and Fees

You can have Constant Contact manage your marketing services for an additional fee.

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 and Associated Charges

The Email plan includes 1 GB of online image storage; the Email Plus Plan includes 2 GB of online image storage.

Web-Based Or Locally-Installed

Constant Contact is cloud-based. The company offers a free iOS app.

Hardware and Software Requirements

Proper functioning of Constant Contact requires Windows XP or higher and/or Mac 10.4 or higher. The program supports Firefox, Explorer 11, Chrome, and Safari 10. Edge isn’t formally supported.

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 larger businesses.

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 only five headings, you won’t get lost. Constant Contact somewhat helpfully uses the category “List Growth Tools” to encompass sign-up forms and widgets for embedding them in 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.

Campaign Creation


Constant Contact offers a WYSIWYG editor with over 150 preset templates, a basic image editor, and easy access to a css style sheet. You can also edit the HTML code for any text block, image, or other element in your email. If you want more control over the look of your message, you can code your own template 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 for the subject line, an often overlooked element). With a drag-and-drop interface and a built-in image editor, the program makes it easy to quickly create a professional-looking email. 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 5 fields) for multiple contacts (to facilitate quicker data entry). Alternately, 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 be sent.

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.

Reporting

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. In addition, 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 prior to 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. While there were some elements of the organization that struck me as less than intuitive, I found everything I was looking for without having to revert to the knowledge base. On the whole, I found the reports helpful, but basic. While the Google Analytics integration is useful, the program lacks the onboard functionality of some of its peers. There’s no built-in A/B split testing (though it does give instructions for doing it manually, a laborious process), for instance, nor the ability to track locations, conversions, ROI, etc.

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 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:

  • Live Support
    • Phone: Constant Contact can be reached by phone. Hours are Monday-Thursday 7am-11pm EST, Friday 7am-9pm EST, and Saturday-Sunday 10am-8pm EST.
    • Email: You can contact the company via email.
    • Online Chat: Available Monday-Friday, 7am-9pm EST.
  • Knowledge Base: Constant Contact’s knowledge base 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, the response will simply be a direction to email customer service. The company generally posts to Twitter 5-7 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 62 complaints with the BBB over the last 3 years, though the number appeared to have declined somewhat after the last year. A troublesome 19 of the 21 user reviews posted on the BBB site are negative, and there are 23 negative reviews on RipOffReport. The current version of Constant Contact Quickview for iPhone/iPad gets 2/5 stars.

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 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 too 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. Caution: 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 3.7/5 stars based on 360 user rankings at G2 Crowd. Constant Contact’s Android app gets 3.5/5 stars on Google Play (in stark contrast to the Apple app), based on 238 ratings.

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.

Features

Constant Contact offers a variety of basic features, as well as a few 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 basic photo editing. Users also have access to hundreds of stock images which they may use and alter free of charge. In a recent update, Constant Contact redesigned their editor to allow for mobile responsive messages and generally a more positive experience creating great emails.
  • List Growth Tools: Web and social media sign-up 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 (like 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) in order to direct tailored content to each segment.
  • Autoresponders (Plus and Personal Marketer Plans Only): Autoresponders allow users to engage with their subscribers one-on-one by sending automated new subscriber emails, birthday messages, purchase follow-ups, and more.

Integrations & Add-Ons

Constant Contact offers over 200 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 view and download statistics from website traffic generated via each email, unique website visits and 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.
  • WordPress: Linking Constant Contact with the most popular platform for blog and website building, the WordPress integration adds an easy-to-use sign-up 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 sign-up 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.

Security

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 is in compliance 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 the purpose of “co-marketing activities.” You can opt out of receiving such communications by emailing the support team.

Anti-Spam Policy & Protection
The customer service center actively monitors accounts with the express purpose of finding spammers and stopping them from using the company’s servers. Constant Contact agents will not hesitate to suspend accounts or deny mailings if they suspect spam. The company’s terms of use require that no mailing list can include role-based addresses (such as sales@company.com) and there are several spam-prone industries which are prohibited from the service entirely (for instance, sellers of body-building supplements).

Final Verdict

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 basic 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 a 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.

Compare Constant Contact to other popular options:
ServicePricingEase of UseBusiness Size SupportedNext Steps

Free - $4,000/monthEasySmall - Large

Go to Site

$0 - $1946+/monthlyAverageSmall - Large

Go to Site

$9 - $415+/monthlyAverageSmall - Large

Go to Site

Free - $10,000/monthlyEasySmall - Large

Go to Site

Chris Motola

Chris Motola

Finance Writer at Merchant Maverick
Chris Motola is a writer, programmer, game designer, and product of NY. These days he's mostly writing about financial products, but in a past life he wrote about health care and business. He's a graduate of the University of Central Florida.
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1 Comment

Responses are not provided or commissioned by the vendor or bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the vendor or bank advertiser. It is not the vendor or bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

    Tom Doonan

    As someone new to email marketing, I found this article to be fair. It confirms some of my recent experiences with Constant Contact, but doesn’t bash it without reason. Clear, easy to understand review, and I appreciate the time it took to complete.

      This comment refers to an earlier version of this review and may be outdated.

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