The early Internet marketing years have been compared to the Wild West, and in many ways the comparison is apt. It was a time with few rules when even multinational companies saw nothing wrong with email spam. It was also a time when the available tools were very primitive.
Email marketers had to use and adapt tools which were developed for entirely different purposes. The first list management tools were intended to foster discussion amongst academic circles and were similar to today’s forums. That meant that list members could broadcast messages to each other – they could even send messages to the entire list!
As marketers customized these list management tools to run effective email campaigns, they often added bugs, resulting in bizarre accidents such as the time an Internet Marketing guru accidentally sent 100 identical messages within an hour.
As the demand for marketing specific features grew, email service providers (ESPs) emerged. These companies offered their customized mail management service as a hosted option.
Changes in the email landscape (due to spammers) have made it necessary to use ESPs if you want to get your messages delivered.
When it comes to features, ESP customers are spoilt for choice. In fact, many of the features are so obscure that it’s hard to even imagine a use case for them. Other common features are essential to effective email marketing.
ESPs compete with each other to produce the most mouth-watering array of features in an effort to lure in new customers.
With that said, it seems bizarre that Constant Contact fails to provide many of the basic features offered by their competitors.
AB split testing is a key example. The only way for marketers to ensure they get the best response rates is to test different variations of their messages. AB testing integration means the system can track the open rates and automatically favor the messages that get the best response rates.
But Constant Contact doesn’t offer this basic feature. And that’s not the only omission.
The ability to edit custom HTML emails in a graphical editor is essential, due to the complex nature of HTML emails and the lack of standards compliance in email clients.
Constant Contact does provide a graphical editor, but it only works with their prepackaged templates. So if your designer or developer has created a custom email template, you’ll have to edit it by hand.
In almost every area, Constant Contact seems to offer a minimal feature set. And that may actually be deliberate.
After all, there is a case to be made for keeping the system simple. Adding features increases the number of things that a user must learn to do. A restricted set of features makes the interface easy to use for beginners.
But when those features are essential, you need to consider the long-term cost.
Sure, an ultra simple feature set means you can learn to use the system in a few hours max. That’s definitely a plus.
But if it prevents you from running your business efficiently, it can create a host of problems down the line. Not to mention the cost of lost opportunities. AB testing alone can increase the profitability of email marketing by a wide margin.
Today, the market is heading towards sophisticated cross-platform advertising. This means that if your organization doesn’t embrace these methodologies, your competitors certainly will.
Responsive cross marketing campaigns mean that interactions from social media, mobile and email are coordinated. Tracking links in posts, texts and emails allows back-end systems to tailor a unique sales path for each individual person.
This advanced “responsive” marketing leads to much higher conversion rates, and dramatically increases the value of each individual lead in a list.
To support these types of campaigns, an email service provider must offer a few key features. Firstly, they must provide an API (application processing interface) to allow your back office software to communicate with their servers.
Additionally, “trigger messaging” is essential. This is a feature where your software is alerted if a subscriber takes a certain action, such as opening an email or clicking on a link. In other words, their server “calls” your server to let your software know what’s happened.
By now, it shouldn’t be surprising to learn that Constant Contact is weak in all of these areas. While their “webhooks” tools show that they do have the technology to handle push notifications, it is only able to deal with billing events, not actual marketing campaigns.
You could take this as a sign of where their priorities lie!
If the limited feature set was the only problem, then you might argue the case for Constant Contact as a “newbie friendly” option. Possibly for small businesses with humble ambitions.
Unfortunately, there is worse to come.
Most of the big email service providers operate on a philosophy of “lock-in.” They start off with a cheap price tag, or even a free month of service, in order to lure customers in. As a customer’s list begins to grow, the monthly fees start to rise sharply.
At this point, the customer will start to regret their decision, but it’s usually too late. Changing service providers now would interrupt delivery of sequenced messages, and effectively derail ongoing email marketing campaigns.
So the unhappy customer has little choice but to continue down the path, writing off the higher costs as the price of doing business.
This is a pattern that Constant Contact follows, but in some respects it’s worse than its competitors. Most service providers allow you to cancel your account through the web interface.
Not Constant Contact. Instead, you need to phone them (during office hours) and jump through several hoops as you bounce back and forth between representatives. It’s an issue which has caused more than a little frustration for their customers – you can see this on their own support forums, as well as other online marketing forums.
File storage is another contentious issue. While many service providers offer to host GB of images or attachments for free, Constant Contact’s “MyLibrary” limits you to 5 images.
As it’s quite possible to use up this limit for a single email, it won’t be long before customers have to switch to the premium “MyLibrary Plus” at an additional monthly cost.
Consider that free services such as Drop Box and Google Drive offer more than this for free, and you’ll see why that’s such a bad deal.
The price levels for Constant Contact increase steeply, from the modest $20 per month for their basic offering up to $85 per month once the list has reached 5,000 subscribers – which will happen quickly for a moderately successful business.
In fact, it only takes 500 subscribers to increase the price to $35 – a 75% increase!
It’s the combination of these shortcomings that make it hard to recommend Constant Contact – it’s weak feature set, unfair price levels and other “premium” bolt ons make it a poor choice.
While they do offer a free trial period to evaluate their service, customers who try their service will find it difficult to switch providers for the reasons mentioned above.
While Constant Contact has a particularly unfair price structure, they aren’t the worst. Due to the difficulties of running large-scale email service infrastructures, the large service providers have dominated the market for a long time. This has allowed them to dictate their prices, and it has been very profitable for them.
Cloud computing has fundamentally changed the marketplace. It has allowed new competitors to emerge. These competitors have been able to offload the high upfront costs of building an infrastructure by using the resources of large companies such as Amazon or Microsoft in an “on-demand” manner. They can offer the same level of service without having to build huge expensive data centers.
This allows them to reduce their start-up costs and expand their infrastructure elastically as they attract more customers.
The benefit to the customer is lower costs and faster development and support cycles. This means more features and faster fixes.
By developing for a cloud platform, this new wave of email service providers have built systems that are easy to adjust and reconfigure. They aren’t so tightly bound to a single set of features, so they can implement the features their customers need and want.
Now let us look at a better alternative – EasySendy Pro which not only scores at many places where Constant Contact fails to deliver, but offers much more.
EasySendy Pro is a new email service provider that offers a combination of high-end features with a simple front-end interface. EasySendy Pro implements industry best email marketing practices which has high email deliveries and track end-user behavior with your email.
Before you send the email campaign to an email list, with EasySendy Pro you can test the email template and check email spam score. According to the spam score, you can also modify your email template and make it mailbox complaint.
Their pricing structure increases slowly, with the basic fee covering lists of up to 10,000 subscribers for only $15 and allowing 25,000 emails a month and so on. Considering that Constant Contact charges more than $85 for lists of 10,000 subscribers, you already know where to go to save your money.
One can also try free plans with EasySendy Pro which have all features of any other plan – another big reason to move to EasySendy Pro from Constant Contact.
EasySendy Pro allows you to setup advanced email autoresponder sequence and design set of email campaigns, based on email list opt-in start sending email sequence automatically. For each email subscriber you can measure the effectiveness of email campaign.
Coming to the creative part. now that you have already read about Constant Contact’s limitations on the same; you would be happy to know that with EasySendy Pro you can make your email more personalized and user friendly with wide range of available email template tags. Add more detail to email campaigns easily. Also you can customise the email pages as much as you want to make them special.
EasySendy Pro doesn’t lag behind in the latter part of the job too. EasySendy Pro automatically process the bounce and complaint from your email list and mark them as do not disturb. This makes your email list always fresh and updated with active emails. Next time when you send email to the same email list, these marked emails will not receive email.
Further to the low costs EasySendy Pro is now available at 20% more – simply affordable pricing for volume emails!
Their Email Autoresend technology has shown improved email open rate upto 150%.
EasySendy Pro gives more options to import email lists and mysql database also supported; plus Support Email Marketing for large volume email subscribers.
EasySendy Pro emerges as a clear winner on all fronts and light years ahead of Constant Contact. It is good to incorporate the one of the best players from the industry in your business so that you stay ahead in the fiercely competitive surroundings.