Part 2: Constant Contact: Inexpensive ESP

SpeakUp!A few days ago I announced my upcoming post series on Email Marketing Campaign Management solutions (ESPs) in my post, Upcoming-ESP Reviews. This is the first post in that series, highlighting Constant Contact’s SpeakUp! Email Marketing. With this what you see is what you get, easy to learn, inexpensive solution, you can send an unlimited amount of emails per month, to an unlimited amount of lists for anywhere between $15 to $150 per month, depending on the size of your lists. With a deliverability rate of 97%, according to Return Path, an independent email performance firm, Constant Contact’s SpeakUp! is sure to portray your company as reputable and trustworthy.

The amount of features Constant Contact supports is quite extensive for such an inexpensive, basic editor. Let’s start with the first step involved in signing up for a new ESP, importing your contact list.

Import Your List

Microsoft Outlook 2007 SpeakUp! Email Marketing provides you, the email marketer, with several options. If you started out small, using Microsoft Outlook or a similar email client to send your email marketing campaigns, your email list would be in the Outlook address book. You can import these contacts easily into Constant Contact’s SpeakUp! with their QuickImport tool, design specifically for Outlook.

If you have your contacts in an Excel (.xls), csv, or .txt file, you can also easily import them into SpeakUp! You can add subscribers manually if there’s a few stray contacts that you did not import.

Not satisfied with the size or quality of your list? No problem. Just use Constant Contact’s SpeakUp! list building tools. SpeakUp!’s Sign-up Box Wizard will help you build a custom Join My List Sign-up Box to your website, so that your visitors will easily be able to sign up for communications from you. You can also add a “Forward to a Friend” link on all of the emails you send with SpeakUp!, enabling you to build your list virally.

Once the contacts of your list are imported into Constant Contact’s SpeakUp!, you can add additional subscriber information for each contact in order to further customize your emails, overall resulting in higher open rates. What data can you provide? Company name, first and last name, mailing preferences, up to 15 other pieces of information that you would like to include about your subscribers, and more. You will be able to create an email customized for your subscriber based on the information you provided.

Once your lists are built, imported, and updated, you can choose to segment your list into different groups, based on preferences and other variables. You can then send variations of the same message to different groups, reflecting their indicated interests or preferences for a better subscriber experience.

This ESP also offers SafeSubscribeSM and SafeUnsubscribe™ services to your recipients, so they know they are dealing with a reputable company who will not misuse the information they provide in any way. Confirmed Opt-in can also be activated, requiring subscribers to link through a confirmation link sent to their email after they initially sign up, ensuring a more quality mailing list.

Email Campaign Wizard

The Email Campaign Wizard guides the email marketer through the campaign creation and launch process, from template selection all the way to the delivery of the message. This is perfect for beginner email marketers, who may not know where to start. The wizard first instructs marketers to choose from over 200 templates, organized by industry, which will best fit their email message and appeal to their audience. These templates have been format tested in most email clients and readers so that you know your message will reach the inbox and look its best.

Once the template is chosen, the email marketers can add the images and content of the email, as well as customize colors and font styles in a WYSIWYG (what you see is what you get) editor, so NO HTML or technical skills are needed to create beautiful, customized messages.

Custom Design: If you would not like to use a template, and instead like to upload your own design created in a HTML design tool such as Dreamweaver, then you can cut and paste your code into the HTML editor on Constant Contact’s SpeakUp! The ESP also accepts cascading style sheets (CSS) and flash email.

Personalization: SpeakUp! allows you create personalized, dynamic content based on the information about the subscribers, which was entered when we importing our lists. Enter the recipients’ names, company names, or other contact details into the body of the message for a better user experience.

Select which list of yours should receive your email, choose the day and time you would like the emails to be delivered to subscribers, and click the Send button.

Only 5 images can be hosted with Constant Contact’s SpeakUp! Standard Service to be added to email messages (although you can link to images that are hosted elsewhere so they can be used in your messages). You can upgrade to Premium Image Hosting for an extra $5 per month, which will provide you with up to 1,200 hosted images, ability to resize hosted images by various measurements (percentage, pixels, centimeters, or inches), and more easily manage folders with the ability to create folders, rename files, and move them from location to location.

Email Tracking / Reporting

Constant Contact’s email tracking lets you know, in real time, who opened, which links generated the most click throughs, and who clicked on each one. You’ll also find out how many emails were delivered, and which addresses bounced and why. Three reports are generated.

Email Campaign Reports: measure emails sent, emails delivered, open rate, click through rate, subscriber activity (if they opened the message, which links were opened, and who unsubscribed), as well as which links generated the largest number of click throughs.

See a sample Email Campaign Report here.

Contact Reports: this monthly report shows you how fast your contact list is growing, who subscribes and how they’re subscribing (website sign up, forward emails, Send to a Friend link, etc), how many “Send to a Friend” links were sent out, and who sent them.

See a sample monthly Contact Reports.

Snapshot Report: a report that shows you how effective your last three campaigns have been by displaying a summary of the basic statistics involved with the campaign.

Bounced Email Reports: easily view all bounced email addresses by email campaign name, along with the reason why they bounced (non-existent address, mailbox full, etc).

Comparison Reports: shows you different campaign statistics side by side so you can see which worked and which didn’t, adjusting future campaigns to reflect past successful ones. This report also enables you to compare your results with those of other Constant Contact customers.

Deliverability Tools

Constant Contact takes extra care to ensure that the percentage of your emails that reach your subscribers’ inboxes is as high as possible. They take pride in their high esteemed relationships with Internet Service Providers (ISPs) in order to ensure that your message is not blacklisted. SpeakUp! will not send spam, and ensures that any messages sent are compliant with the CAN SPAM laws and regulations. Constant Contact also has constant educational resources on email marketing in order to keep all its email marketers CAN SPAM compliant and following industry best practices.

What’s Next?

As you can see, there are a variety of features and options involved with Constant Contact’s SpeakUp! email campaign management tool. In order to learn more about these features, and use them yourself to see if this ESP is right for you, I would recommend utilizing Constant Contact’s Free, 60 day trial. No credit card is required, and you get the full, functional version of the ESP, with one restriction: your initial list must be kept under 100 contacts. If you have a list much larger than that, that’s OK! Simply utilize the free trial to test out the features and options. If you feel the ESP is right for you and your subscribers, you can upgrade to the paid version for $15 a month, as long as your list is kept under 500 recipients. The prices increase as the size of your list grows, as shown below:Do-It-Yourself Email Marketing

0-500 subscribers $15 per month

501-2500 subscribers $30 per month

2501-5000 subscribers $50 per month

5001-10000 subscribers $75 per month

10001-25000 subscribers $150 per month

Do you have a list larger than 25,000? No problem! Simply contact Constant Contact to discuss how you and your company can work with them to provide quality emails to your subscribers, at special pricing rates.

I believe this ESP is ideal for those with small mailing lists, especially if they send email frequently. Because Constant Contact doesn’t charge a fee based on the number of emails you send, you could send out daily email messages to 500 subscribers for only $15 per month! If you are interested in this ESP, sign up for your 60 day free trial now, no credit card required for sign up, in order to try out the many features yourself.

Stay tuned for the next post in this series, a review on the Listrak email campaign management tool (ESP), which is the tool I use and am most familiar with. Sign up for my RSS feed to be alerted when this extensive review becomes available.

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4 thoughts on “Part 2: Constant Contact: Inexpensive ESP

  1. This in turn is a great piece too! Constant contact could be taken as well with blogging, and networking. People that do not understand internet marketing, do not see the value in constant contact and communication. Networking is so important, and anything new, has a tendency to frighten people off.

    Thanks for stopping in at Marshall Yard !

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