iContact Review: Email Marketing
|Sign up for iContact|
|Free for up to 100 contacts; on the pricier side for up to 500 contacts but stellar email and HTML editor might be worth it for some users|
Though iContact is on the pricier side of the email marketing price range, it has one of the best template editing toolbars we've seen, and a stellar HTML editor. That being said, we did have some issues with how emails look in different clients, which we will explain later in this review. While email analytics are pretty basic, in general we enjoyed using iContact and found it easy to navigate the site after getting used to their layout. iContact does have a 30-day free trial so you can get a feel for it, and if you need to send to less than 100 contacts per month, you can use the service for free.
iContact packs an extensive list of features and options on their site, but sometimes this can be intimidating to the novice email marketer. Once you get used to the layout, however, navigating the site is easy. You will be using tools from four different sections; "Contacts", "Email", "Social" and "Reports". You can add contacts, create lists and edit HTML for signup forms in the Contacts section. We found the mechanism to separate contact lists into different segments more confusing than with other email marketing sites. In fact, we had to call their customer support to help us separate our list and it took about a half hour on the phone to figure out and there were Excel sheets involved. The Social tab is pretty handy, letting you control your business' Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn page right from iContact's interface. If you would like to control all of your social media accounts from one location, then this is definitely a feature to consider.
iContact has 665 templates for you to choose from. If you're an HTML whiz, you can use their message coder to create your own. Their email editing tools were definitely our favorite part about the service. You can edit the templates they've made for you, and in the message coder option you can switch back and forth between editing the HTML and using their WYSIWYG (what you see is what you get) system. Inserting images is super easy as well. You can upload pictures to your image gallery and use them repeatedly if needed. A helpful feature is the ability to click "re-use sent message", so once you have a template you like, you can keep using it and just entering new information. Sending emails is easy. Just select the list(s) you want to send to and schedule the date and time (or click "send immediately"). You can even choose to post your newsletter to social media.
You can view how your email will show up in different clients by using the testing feature; just type in an email address and hit test. The one problem we ran into when testing our emails is that sometimes little things would show up differently in email clients than they did on the iContact screen. Even when we did our own HTML coding, it was as if the words themselves were coded. This problem could sometimes be fixed by deleting particular words and re-typing them. We recommend those with HTML knowledge use the message coder as much as possible, because perhaps the text editor runs into problems with different email clients.
iContact's analytics are pretty basic. You can view email analytics by either clicking on the "Reports" tab, or clicking "track message" in the sent messages folder. After you send an email, you can keep tracking the percentage of opens, clicks, bounces and unsubscribes. You can also view which links received the most clicks, and which email addresses clicked on them. Other than that, there's not much information. Though iContact includes a mechanism to view a subscriber's click or open history, we wish there was a mass tool, instead of needing to click on each contact to see their history. This would help much more with targeting and give users a better idea of which newsletters and links are most effective.
Plans and Pricing
If you have under 100 subscribers, iContact is free. Its paid plans are priced a bit higher than other services with the same subscriber count. For up to 500 contacts, the price is $14 per month. The 2,500 contact plan is $32 per month and 5,000 contacts is $52 per month. Annual plans will lower the price for you, giving you a 15% discount. If you're unsure whether you want to pay for the service or not, you can use all of the features by signing up for the free 30-day trial.
iContact is a bit pricier than some of the other services, but we would recommend this email marketing service for those that find text editing tools important. Aside from the occasional email client incompatibility with some words, which was fixable, the email creator is easy to use and intuitive. Other than that, we liked their social media feature and found the analytics to be basic, but solid.
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Here is NextAdvisor's review of iContact Email Marketing: http://www.nextadvisor.com/email_market ... review.php