With more than 600,000 customers, Constant Contact is one of the largest email marketing software providers in the world. It’s known for its versatility, attractive templates, and broad feature set. Constant Contact goes beyond simple email marketing to include surveys, deals, social media, and event marketing tools.
If you run a business, you need a solid email marketing software provider that gives you room to grow. Pricing starts from 20.00 per month, and there’s a generous 60-day free trial.
For our expert Constant Contact review by a real user, keep reading.
About Constant Contact
Constant Contact was founded by Randy Parker in 1998. The company is based in Waltham, MA, in the United States. It offers all the basic tools for creating and managing successful email marketing campaigns, with lots of extras.
The platform’s strongest suits include easy navigation, plenty of templates, advanced analytics and tracking tools, email previewing capabilities, and convenient auto-responders.
Constant Contact features
Constant Contact is arguably the most versatile email marketing platform around. Some platforms focus exclusively on the basics, and that works well. But with Constant Contact, you can create surveys, deals, social media campaigns, birthday greetings, reports, live event curation, and coupons.
Versatile Contact Management
Gathering emails is the first step in starting your email marketing activity. Constant Contact helps you manage your contacts list efficiently, even if your contacts are on a different email marketing system right now.
You can import contacts from a text file or spreadsheet, or bring them in directly from an email provider like Gmail or Microsoft Outlook. Constant Contact also allows you to transfer contacts from online customer management services such as QuickBooks, ACT! (formerly known as Sage ACT), and Salesforce.
Despite being extremely comprehensive, this is a quick and easy process. As you open your account, you can get your contacts set up, and rapidly move on to the next steps.
If you don’t already have an email marketing contact list, don’t worry. You can enter contacts manually, which is a longer process, but equally effective.
New Constant Contact customers have various resources at their disposal to make it easier to get started with the platform.
All users are provided with a simple user guide, live webinars, product tutorials, and archives. They all include instructions, tips, and short-cuts that help you to quickly get up to speed with the pros.
Templates and Forms
Constant Contact provides customers with more than 400 hundred templates for various types of messaging. On its site, they are divided into categories, so you can quickly locate a template for the type of newsletter you want to build. Examples include welcome emails, informational messages, holiday greetings, and general business promotion templates.
If you prefer to build your own templates from scratch, Constant Contact provides a very easy-to-use template editor that you can use for complete customization.
Like most email marketing services, Constant Contact’s list management interface allows you to segment users into categories based on certain criteria.
You can also assign tags to contacts. For example, you can tag contacts that have been signed up to your list the longest, and then send those contacts special coupons.
Use tags to track loyalty, response rate, or any other relevant metric.
Help and Support
The technical support department at Constant Contact is available during the following times:
- Mon-Thu 8am – 10pm ET
- Fri 8am-9pm ET
There is no live support on weekends.
If you’re in another timezone, you may find that these support hours are not entirely convenient. Additionally, you might get stuck without help on a weekend. (There’s a community forum, but no support provision from the company itself.)
Consider whether the limited support hours could be an inconvenience to your business, or whether you could live with a couple of days’ delay.
Reporting and Analytics
Detailed information is essential if you’re to continuously improve your communication and marketing. Constant Contact offers arguably the most comprehensive reporting tools that an email marketing system could offer.
In addition to the usual reports offered by most email marketing services (number of emails sent, opened, forwarded, bounced, etc.), Constant Contact also tracks and reports on social media stats. Tracked metrics clearly illustrate the number of likes, tweets, shares, views, and more that your emails receive.
Reports also include the number of click-throughs and complaints that your messages have generated on social media.
If your business hosts events and product launches, you’ll find Constant Contact’s EventSpot feature to be very useful.
You can create invites using pre-made templates, and build a branding theme around your event. The materials that Constant Contact providers work for many themes, from educational and charity events to auctions and sport competitions.
The feature utilizes your existing contact list, so there’s no need to maintain a separate event list just for contacts that respond.
EventSpot also lets you attach registration forms to email invites, take payment for admission, and create a corresponding event home page where people can go to find out more about the event.
You can also include links the event’s Facebook and Twitter accounts.
Let’s look at the best reasons to try Constant Contact:
- Templates are beautifully designed and professional in appearance.
- Entry level plans are suitable for small businesses with just 500 subscribers. There’s room to grow to as many as 50,000 contacts.
- The free trial lasts for 60 days, and there’s also a 30-day money back guarantee on all packages.
- Features are extensive and go beyond what most competitors offer. Constant Contact offers a well integrated set of tools that are not too challenging to get to grips with.
Constant Contact stands out from the other email marketing service providers. Its core email marketing provision is excellent, but it’s the additional features that make it stand out.
With an accessible price tag and good support, Constant Contact a great choice for businesses of all sizes.
Our Expert Guide to Contact Contact
I’ve used several email marketing tools over the past few years, so hopefully, I can shed some light on why you would (or wouldn’t) want to try Constant Contact.
I’ve broken up my review into 6 parts based on the questions that I ask when I’m looking for an email marketing tool:
- Will Constant Contact fit your budget?
- How easy is it to import an existing email list (or create a new one)?
- Is it easy to create and send email, and will it end up in spam?
- How detailed is Constant Contact’s reporting?
- How easy is it to integrate Constant Contact into your site?
- Are there any advanced features on Constant Contact that are unique?
Each section can be read by itself, so feel free to skip ahead to the sections you care about the most.
1. Will Constant Contact Fit Your Budget?
There’s plenty of pricing information on this page, so I’ll assume you’ve read that.
But there are other things I like about the pricing for Constant Contact:
- You get a 60-day free trial on any plan.
- Non-profits get 20-30% off if they pre-pay (and verify their status).
- There is no limit to how many emails you can send; some other email marketing tools charge you extra to send a high volume of emails.
So which of the two price plans should you pick?
While there are a bunch of features that are only in the Plus plan, the only one that is truly relevant for most businesses is the email automation feature.
In Constant Contact, email automation simply allows you to create autoresponders. So if you want to be able to send emails when a subscriber is added to a specific list, you need the Plus plan.
Not all businesses need this feature. Some are content to send emails manually every time.
Compare Constant Contact’s pricing, and see if the Plus plan is affordable for your business.
2. How Easy Is It to Import an Existing Email List (or Create a New One)?
Being able to bring in an email list from multiple sources is usually a priority for small businesses.
If you use the Getting Started tool when you sign up, it will only let you type in (or copy and paste) your contacts.
It’s better to go to the Contact tab at the top and click Enter a New List.
Note: you can’t import contacts until you have at least one list. And it’s a good idea to set up all of your lists before you start adding contacts since you can quickly assign them to lists at the end of the import process. This part of the UI could be clearer, but it’s still reasonably intuitive:
Once you have at least one list, click the yellow Add Contacts button:
The most common option that I look for is Upload From File. Use this to upload a CSV file that you’ve already exported from another marketing tool:
The tool scans the first row for headings (like Email, Email Address, or Name.) Constant Contact interprets them really well. I tried out a few different formats for fun, and it identified the different field names correctly every time.
Constant Contact does not require contacts to opt-in again. Some email marketing tools still require new contacts to “double opt-in”, even if you’ve done it before. This is a huge pain, and it can result in a loss of subscribers.
Instead, all you need to do is verify that you’ve received permission to contact them in the past:
That’s ideal for me.
From this point, you just need to select the email lists that you already created, and the contacts will be added to them.
Overall, it’s incredibly simple and quick to add new contacts. I’ve never had any complaints.
3. Is It Easy to Create and Send Email, and Will It End up in Spam?
Everything to do with sending email goes through the Campaigns tab, which makes sense.
When you click the big Create button, you get a list of the options your account has access to:
Here’s the difference:
- Email lets you send a one-time email to one or more lists. This is available in the basic and Plus account.
- Email Automation lets you create an autoresponder. This is only available in the Plus account.
The rest of the options are to for creating (like donation pages) or content (like coupons) to embed in your emails. You probably won’t use those as frequently.
I’ll quickly walk you through creating the first 2 types of campaigns, focusing on functionality and user experience.
Option #1 – Creating a Basic Email Campaign
This is the equivalent to sending out an “email blast.”
It’s a single email that you can schedule to be sent at any specific time.
The first screen is a list of well over 100 email templates that you can use, and most of them look pretty good.
You can search for a specific type if you’d like (e.g. the Donation template in the picture below):
Clicking a template (or Blank) will open up the email editor:
This is fantastic if you send a lot of emails with fairly complex designs.
All you need to do is drag-and-drop the elements you’d like from the left sidebar to the right editor pane. You can include:
You can click on any element and resize it, edit text, or move things around.
If you usually just send plain text messages, this is overkill, but it’s nice if you’d like to spruce up your emails.
Drag-and-drop editors are often clunky and frustrating to use. Constant Contact’s editor has a few weird quirks, but overall it’s very smooth and one of the best I’ve used.
One of the biggest pros about this process is that you can preview what the email looks like on desktop or mobile.
Constant Contact’s templates are responsive, meaning that they look good on almost any device. That is not something I can say for all email marketing tools, and it’s a big win considering that about 68% of email is opened on mobile.
Finally, you finish off by scheduling a date for it to be sent automatically:
My one gripe with this process is this: while you can edit emails once you’ve created them (and before you’ve sent them), the process is not that intuitive.
You have to know to “unschedule” the email, then save it as a draft. Once that’s done, there will be an Edit link.
It’s not the end of the world, but it might confuse you the first time you need to edit an email.
Option #2 – Creating an Autoresponder (“Email Automation” Campaign)
The second main campaign that you’ll create is an Email Automation campaign.
It’s intuitive to use. Just give your autoresponder a name, and assign list(s) to that autoresponder:
Once you’ve done that, you can come back to the autoresponder (just click the name in the campaign dashboard) and add as many emails as you’d like.
You create these emails in the exact same way as above. You can schedule them relative to each other.
How Is Constant Contact’s Deliverability?
You want your emails ending up in your subscriber’s inbox, not their Junk or Spam folder.
Constant Contact reports a 98% deliverability rate, which is about as good as it gets, and my own experience confirms that they do a very good job getting your emails delivered.
4. How Detailed Is Constant Contact’s Reporting?
The reporting on Constant Contact is simple yet easy to use. It captures the most important data that most people need:
- Emails sent
- Link clicks.
All of this data can be filtered by time of the day and by the device that the person was using:
It also has a few unique reports, like click tracking heat maps, that show you which email links your subscribers click the most:
All the basics are there, and if that’s all you need, then it will be perfect for you.
However, it leaves some significant limitations for advanced use. There’s no built-in A/B testing or advanced automation that you can get from other email marketing tools.
These are features that allow you to really optimize the effectiveness of your email marketing. You’ll need to decide if detailed reporting is crucial for your business.
5. How Easy Is It to Integrate Constant Contact Into Your Site?
What about new subscribers that come from your website?
If you want to build custom forms, Constant Contact’s API is well-developed and as easy to use as any other platform.
The more common route is to create forms in Constant Contact itself and embed them on your site by copying and pasting code.
To do this, you go to the “list growth tools” tab and click the big yellow Create a Sign-Up Form button, which brings up this form:
Enter the name and description, along with which email lists to add people to when they complete the form.
The second tab allows you to customize input fields (like Email, or Name), and the third tab lets you pick the background color.
The finished forms look like this:
It’s reasonably attractive, but styling options are limited. If you don’t like the way it looks, you’ll have to create your own form, which may involve hiring a developer.
There is a WordPress plugin to make this process slightly more convenient, but there’s still a lack of design options.
6. Are There Any Advanced Features on Constant Contact That Are Unique?
There are a few final pieces of functionality that I wanted to mention that didn’t fit easily in other sections.
While there are limitations when it comes to automated segmentation, you can still segment your list manually using tags.
Tags allow you to categorize contacts, so you can target specific tags when you send emails. This means you don’t need to send an email to an entire list.
For example, you might want to tag people who have bought your product as “purchasers,” so that you don’t keep emailing them the same offer:
Is There Support If You Need It?
I haven’t run into many issues that required support help in the past, which is a good sign when using an email marketing tool.
However, good support is there if you need it. The phone number is always on the screen in the top menu, and there is live chat as well, although the icon is hidden in the help section:
The availability is good, but far from 24/7. The support hours are skewed towards North American business times, so if you expect you’ll need help outside those time zones, you might have issues.
A Summary of Constant Contact
Overall, Constant Contact is a solid email marketing tool.
As with any other tool, it has its strengths and weaknesses that will determine if it’s right for you. Here’s a quick recap.
- Some functionality isn’t obvious and may cause frustration to new users.
- No advanced reporting (if needed).
- Sign-up forms have limited appearance options.
- No built-in A/B testing or advanced automation (moving subscribers based on actions).
- Support is only easily available for North Americans.
- Great free trial length, and discount for nonprofits.
- Easy to create new email lists from multiple formats.
- Tons of attractive and responsive email templates.
- Easy-to-use drag-and-drop email creator.
- High deliverability rate (98%).
- Reporting is simple to use and has all the basics.
In summary, Constant Contact is great for businesses who want a simple, intuitive email marketing tool that just works. If you want the latest automation and advanced features, you’re better off looking at an alternative.
Constant Contact Plans & Prices
Pricing is largely dependent on the size of your email list and how often you’re going to send emails. Constant Contact offers two types of plans; email and email pro. Their “email plus plan” includes surveys, registration forms, coupons and more. For more information and latest and most up to date prices visit the Constant Contact website.
|Plan||Contacts||Free Trial||Monthly Price|
|Email Plus Plan||500||60-days||45.00|
|Email Plus Plan||2,500||60-days||70.00|
|Email Plus Plan||5,000||60-days||95.00|
|Email Plus Plan||10,000||60-days||125.00|
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ConstantContact Review on Twitter
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Martin Shervington (@PlusYourBiz)
@ConstantContact thanks for the tweet! (as it happens we are considering moving email providers next week too...)
Angie Sanchez (@angiesanchez0)
@ConstantContact thanks, I had to call for help but finally Laura sent me the info.
Resilience Girl (@ResilienceGirl)
@ConstantContact Why do I have to ring you during US business hours to cancel an account? I am in Australia.
RT @ConstantContact: Overwhelmed? Be positive! 12 signs you're doing better than you think https://t.co/KcIga62BuB via @Inc #smallbiz https…