Since its inception in 2003, iContact markets itself as an easy to use email marketing service for anyone, built to take out the pain of email marketing. As you’d expect, it offers you a drag-and-drop editor so that you can create responsive emails that look good on screens of all kinds of sizes.
Although iContact has been serving small and mid-sized businesses worldwide, they’ve also garnered leading companies and organisations such as NASA.
Pros and cons of iContact
iContact is a browser-based email marketing service with a solid set of features combined with a reasonable price plan. It comes with tools for segmentation, automation, and more.
- Easy to learn interface
- Reasonable pricing
- Unlimited sending regardless of what plan you choose
- Spell checking and spam checking tools integrated
- Can be slow at times
- Signing up was a frustrating process until I found out it doesn’t work when you’re using an ad-blocker
- No Google Analytics integration in the free plan
- The free forever plan is quite limited, especially if you want automation
- Basic segmentation
Who is iContact for?
If you’re a business owner and want to have a simple yet powerful and effective way to get in front of your audience. It’s good for creating campaigns fast and hassle-free and lets you optimise them without forcing you to be glued at the computer all day to work out how to use it.
Its well-rounded feature set gives you all the essential tools you need to create, manage, and optimise your campaigns. It’s not for you if you only send a few emails per month.
iContact user interface
If you’re using an ad-blocker, you may not be able to sign up. But once you’ve overcome this hurdle, you’ll be taken to a well-thought-out dashboard. It gives you an overview of your latest email statistics and contact lists.
The interface is easy to understand and use. Its features are set up based on tasks which are Email, Landing Pages, Automation, Contacts, and File Library. If you’ve used browser-based services, the interface will feel familiar.
A campaign is set up in 4 steps. First, you pick a template from its gallery and customise it to your needs. Then, you select the list or segment that you want to address. And the last step is of course to send your email.
You pick a theme in the templates gallery and then choose a layout. You can also design your message from scratch. In this case, you have the choice to use the
- HTML editor
- Plain text editor
- Import from URL
While designing your message, iContact gives you tools to
- Spell check
- Spam check
- Send a test message
- Create a split test
- Export as HTML
- View as plain text
If you want to re-use the mail you created, you can save it as a template.
Sign up forms and landing pages
Sign up forms and landing pages help you capture the details of your audience. For landing pages, you’ll find a dedicated section in the sidebar navigation. If you want to create a form to embed in your website or any site that allows embedded code, you’ll find the form builder under the menu item Contacts in the sidebar navigation.
You can customise your fields as well as design attributes such as the button color or size of your form. The landing page builder looks and behaves like the email builder.
List management, segmentation, and personalisation
Everything that you need to do to manage the details of your audience can be found under the section Contacts in the left menu. To help you send the right message at the right time to the right people, you can segment your list.
You can build segments based on specific criteria such as when the contact has signed up or the activities of the subscriber. The segments are automatically updated when a contact fulfills a condition. And then you can use these segments for your automation workflows.
The automation comes in with predesigned templates that you can use for certain events such as trigger at the birth date of a subscriber or any time a person meets a condition for a segment. You can send autoresponders, email sequences, and drip campaigns. Just know that its automation is basic (following its philosophy of quick and hassle-free). But that also means you can’t build complex workflows.
iContact provides integration with the major CMS and ecommerce platforms, payment gateways, and CRMs. If you can’t find what you need, you can connect it with Zapier or build your own with the help of its API.
Since you can only connect your account with Google Analytics when you’re subscribed to a paid plan, you have to rely on iContact’s own reporting. The reporting includes standards such as open and click through rates, unsubscribes, and more. It also reports how your audience is growing
You get live chat and email support when you’re on a paid plan. If you’re using its free plan, you’re limited to email support and self-help resources.
A subscription in iContact is based on the number of subscribers you have. The free plan is really just so that you can experience how it is to work with the service. Even so, you can sign up without having your credit card ready, which is nice sich many want to first test the service before they have to make a buying decision.
Is iContact right for you?
iContact includes all the basic tools needed for email marketing. You can capture emails, design and send campaigns, and alleviate repetitive tasks with basic automation. This makes it a solid choice for business owners and individuals who don’t want to spend all day figuring out how to make the service work.
iContact is a simple email marketing that will cover the needs of most small and medium businesses, where some parts are specially tailored for beginners.
That said, even if you’re running an SMB, you may find that you reach rather sooner than later its limits, especially if you want more advanced automation. It also lacks innovations in machine learning or optimised time sending.
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