Constant Contact — Overview
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 a 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.
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.
Testing and explaining the performance of an email marketing software is pretty different from that of a host or website builder.
(Yes, Constant Contact does have a website builder, but that’s not the main focus here).
Basically, we need to know if the software itself runs smoothly regularly, or if it’s constantly glitchy.
Some small glitches are bound to happen here and there, but is it a common occurrence?
We also need to know if the emails deliver successfully. This seems simple, but you’d be surprised at how often it can come up:
Imagine, for example, that you’re sending an email to a hundred people. Because of some unknown reason, a third of those emails end up in spam folders.
This means that a third of your audience is all but guaranteed to not view it.
So those were the main things I looked at.
And honestly? I’ve got very little to complain about.
Deliverability was never really an issue for me.
Even better, the software itself was always solid. Every now and then I’d get annoyed by minor aspects of the visual template editor, but that’s seriously a minor design issue, not a considerable performance flaw.
On top of that, the automation worked out well. I’ll talk more about it later, but automation is one of those things that sounds great, but can easily end in a headache.
However, I found that Constant Contact’s automated tools pretty much performed as described. Granted, you still need to check in on them to make sure.
But for the most part, everything was as smooth as could be!
So there’s an easy win for Constant Contact. Let’s give it another challenge:
2. Ease of Use
It’s easy to dismiss ease of use.
“This stuff is designed to be intuitive, right? I can figure it out from here.”
Or so you may say.
The truth is, ease of use is super important and undervalued. It’s also especially important with email marketing software.
This is because not everyone in email marketing is a professional marketer. Some just manage the groups they manage—think of a small business owner with a small team that takes care of everything by themselves.
Plus, there are many aspects of email marketing that ease of use can make more accessible: for example, making a list might be easy for you, but is designing a beautiful and catchy email?
All that stuff in mind has led to this assessment of Constant Contact’s ease of use.
The good news is that Constant Contact already has a plus in its favor right off the bat:
That’s because Constant Contact, like many other email marketing companies, uses automation as a crucial part of their services.
This basically means letting algorithms and software handle tasks on its own.
Here’s a glimpse of what automation can do:
You can still supervise such tasks and see if anything goes wrong or should be tweaked, but for the most part, you can leave simple tasks to the AI.
Like, I said, this is a crucial part of Constant Contact’s service offering. It’s not just a side bonus, but a major incentive to use Constant Contact and similar services.
And the good news is that Constant Contact’s automated tools are easy to use and work well. Making everything else easier.
Another major point in Constant Contact’s favor is the design tools. This actually applies to more than just the email services:
You can also use an intuitive drag-and-drop editor to create websites on Constant Contact.
I’ll talk a little more about that in the features section, but the point stands: you can easily customize emails in a manner appropriate for your audience, as much or as little as you like.
Those aren’t the only ways Constant Contact succeeds in ease of use, of course—just two of the most important ones.
Constant Contact also has easily readable reports, lots of templates to make customizing even easier, handy list-management tools, and so on.
There’s little doubt Constant Contact excels in ease of use.
A bigger question might be whether Constant Contact is more intuitive than its competitors.
And for that, I’m not sure I’d say “yes” so enthusiastically. In fact, Constant Contact probably breaks even with a lot of competitors in terms of ease of use.
So Constant Contact might not tower above other email marketing software in this category…but it’s still good enough for the typical user.
Moreover, it’s not so simple as to hold back intermediate users, nor too complicated for beginners.
All in all…I think Constant Contact does very well with ease of use!
Now it’s time to talk even more about automation, customization, and other stuff:
3. Pricing and Features
Let’s talk about something you really want to know:
How much Constant Contact is going to cost you, and what features it has to edge it over the competition.
Features are especially useful in email marketing software: unique tools can save you tons of time or let you do strategies you wouldn’t have otherwise.
The good thing about Constant Contact?
It DOES have some of those unique, rarer features.
But first, let’s get to the price. There are basically two tiers to consider:
The two tiers are Email and Email Plus, and Email Plus is over twice the price of Email. At least, if you’re starting out.
These prices depend on the number of contacts you have. So the current price I showed you is for 0-500 contacts.
If you need more than 500 contacts, you’ll need to seriously upgrade:
As you can see, there’s a pretty big price increase as you scale up. Most email marketing software will also scale up the price as you increase certain thresholds of contacts.
But this is admittedly expensive, as many competitors start you off with 1,000 contacts and a lower price (see the FAQ for more details on that).
The maximum number of contacts you can have with these two plans is 50,000.
If you have more than 10,000 contacts, you’re only going to use the Email Plus plan. But anyway, the reach is high.
And even if you have more than 50,000 contacts, you can still use Constant Contact—it’ll just need to be for a custom enterprise-scale plan.
Okay, now that we’ve covered the number of contacts, let’s go back to the difference between the two tiers.
The main difference aside from price is the feature list.
And some of the important features that are only available for Email Plus are related to automation.
Most email marketing software heavily uses automation tools that make marketing much easier. Constant Contact’s first-tier still does involve some automation, technically speaking, but the second tier simply has more.
More features can be automated, specifically features for engaging recipients in specific ways.
It sounds like a natural lead-in for the feature-dive.
Here are the features that BOTH tiers have:
As you can probably observe, the list of features both tiers have is quite extensive.
So first things first: the basic features are very solid.
You get unlimited emails, customizable templates, and you can brand them.
You get fairly decent contact management tools—like importing contacts, segmentation tools, etc.
Other perks include a landing page creator, marketing calendar, image library (meaning a repository of stock photos), integrations and apps for hundreds of services, and solid performance monitoring tools.
Someone using the first tier can also automatically resend emails to people who don’t open them.
There are a couple of differences in basic features between tiers. Ecommerce marketing lets you integrate with your online business but is more basic in the first tier.
Even the basic integration is solid: you can segment your shop’s customers based on purchase activity, sync contacts, and send automated abandoned cart emails if you’re using Shopify.
But Email Plus lets you add products directly from your Shopify or WooCommerce store into your email, which is a pretty heavy-handed upgrade.
Pop-Up Forms are also different between tiers. The basic version lets you add pop-ups to your site to get people to give you their contact info.
The advanced version gives you more of the pop-ups, lets you customize the pop-ups more, plus removes Constant Contact branding on the pop-ups.
But even so, it’s pretty clear there are a lot of features available for the first tier.
At this point, you might be wondering why you would want to invest in a higher tier at all. What else could they offer?
Remember when I said the higher tier gets more automation?
This mainly means two features, but they’re substantial ones:
The “Welcome series” is an automated email format for onboarding new contacts/leads who have just been added to your list.
The behavioral series shows more of automation’s cool handiwork: based on how contacts engage with your emails, their actions will trigger an automated email series. It’s more personalized.
Those are some pretty good upgrades, but they’re far from all. Some of the other features unlocked in the second tier are those good for gauging your contacts’ thoughts:
You can link to surveys or include shorter polls directly in your emails, plus do A/B testing.
A/B testing, also known as split testing, essentially lets you test two different versions of something with two different groups. In email marketing, A/B testing is usually for subject lines, and that’s the case here
It’s a very useful tool for figuring out what the best subject line is—and that’s really important data to have because it’s a crucial part of getting people to open your emails in the first place.
You can also market events, coupons, and make the emails more dynamic (meaning personalized to customers).
Oh, and you can collect online donations too—Constant Contact will give you a secure page for it. That’s more relevant to nonprofits and small content creators, but hey—cool stuff.
In all, the features are really good. And thus, I think we’re ready to talk about whether those prices are good:
I’ll lead in with the easiest answer—they’re still high, but can be worth it.
The main reason they’re high is because of the subscriber threshold: some competitors have plans similar to Constant Contact’s STARTING prices, but
they allow you to have hundreds of more contacts on our list.
But that doesn’t mean Constant Contact will always be “not worth it.”
The “Email plan” is pretty great, especially if you’re handling hundreds of contacts.
If you’ve only got 20 contacts, maybe less so—you may want to find a cheaper alternative, unless those 20 contacts can really payout.
But if you’re doing email marketing to 200 people, for example, just the “Email” plan is a great deal. It’s got tons of features for customizing your emails and making them better, and $20 a month isn’t so bad considering the features.
Whether Email Plus is a good price really depends on the nature of your marketing campaign.
For example, it’s very plausible your list of contacts is closer to 200 people than 500, still keeping you within the first pricing bracket.
But if you are trying to get engagement to be as good as possible, and you are part of a firm or team that’s invested more heavily in the project of marketing through email—then Email Plus might be just fine.
And while it would really suck to be just tipped over the contact threshold—say, to have 510 contacts you want to engage instead of 500 and be forced to pay much more for your plan—the assumption is that you have a certain level of business and income with a certain level of contacts.
So if you’ve got a massive list of contacts, but you’re not bringing in a lot of money, you may want to think twice about Constant Contact.
You could use it to target only a fraction of your contacts, or maybe focus first on bringing money in first so you can afford a package that lets you engage with a larger amount of people.
Anyway, on the whole, I’d say Constant Contact is a quality product that is worth the price…but the price is still high and not for everyone.
It’s hard to make specific judgment calls, as it depends on the number of contacts a business wants to engage with and how heavily they want to engage with them.
But at the end of the day, smaller marketers, including individual freelancers, may find this to be a great tool that pays itself back easily.
I’m almost done with this section, but I do want to talk a little more about another thing Constant Contact does. Don’t worry, I’ll be brief:
Constant Contact also offers website building software. It’s priced very simply, with a free tier and two paid tiers:
As the description says, the first paid tier is for simpler websites, and the second paid tier is better for businesses.
This is how the features break down:
These aren’t all the features, by the way, just the basic ones.
All sites get unlimited storage, SSL, analytics, and a blogging tool.
But to get rid of ads on your site, or use your own domain—essentials for any business—you need to upgrade to the higher two.
You can also get a free domain for a year when you purchase a website plan.
Also, all plans have store functions—but Starter only lets you hold 10 products max, whereas Business Plus doesn’t limit how many products your store can sell.
The store features are decent, considering Constant Contact’s main focus is on email and marketing—actually, it’s impressive these are as good as they are.
But I would mostly suggest taking a look at this post if you want to build a website.
It’s not that Constant Contact is bad, just that other services have more features, better performance, and devote more resources to website building software.
So in conclusion: email marketing plans are good but pricey, and website building plans are…okay.
Now, let’s get to something that becomes even more important in the marketing context:
4. Customer Support
If we’re going, to be honest with ourselves, customer support is more important for some types of services than others.
Customer support is especially important for email marketing because technical difficulties or errors will often be of a very crucial nature.
A glitch could mean your business gets affected seriously, for example.
Moreover, learning more about how to fully use the tools is important—you can always learn more about marketing!
Anyway, Constant Contact has two main ways of contacting representatives:
One is through phone, and the other is email.
If you call, you’ll have to pick one of the two offices, or a main/general number if you’re a potential customer (which is also on the site).
Through mail, you’ll pick a support category to contact someone in.
There is a live chat, but you need to be logged in to use it. I’ve found it pretty solid, though not exceptional.
But on the bright side, the email support is fairly reliable and speedy.
So the meatier concern from this point on is the on-site information and educational material.
For that, you’d need to go to Constant Contact’s help center.
You can tell that there’s quite a bit going on here, right?
Well, let’s take things step-by-step. The REAL pieces of support here (aside from the options for contacting representatives) are this:
Video tutorials, community answers, and “get started.”
Things like “professional services,” education events, finding marketing professionals, and developer resources can still be pretty useful, don’t get me wrong.
But these things are more like add-ons than the “main course” of customer resources. Plus, these aren’t exactly free:
Educational events are often webinars you need to buy into. The marketing professional and professional services are basically ways for you to find professional help (yes, you do need to pay for it).
It’s just easier and faster than using a general freelance marketplace because there’s less irrelevant noise to sort through.
What’s more important in my assessment of Constant Contact’s customer support is what you can access as a customer by default.
So first up is the community answers page:
It’s not the most comprehensive I’ve ever seen, but it’s surprisingly robust given Constant Contact’s size.
Yes, Constant Contact is a fairly large email marketing company, but it still doesn’t have millions of active users—so that means the community pages are in fact widely used.
The ‘getting started’ and ‘video tutorials’ sections are actually part of the overall knowledge base section:
They just happen to be pretty important areas to point beginners to first.
However, as a whole, I’ve got to say the knowledge base is pretty impressive. There’s an endless list of topics and subtopics, it seems, and tons of articles.
Plus, there are some guides that are more detailed than others, to make it easier on people who don’t want to sift through dense articles.
So overall, Constant Contact does have a lot to offer in terms of customer support:
There are several ways of contacting representatives, and all of them are reliable.
In addition, there is a large amount of onsite information and resources that can be used either for those who want to fix issues by themselves, or for those who want to generally learn more and improve their use of the platform.
So far, Constant Contact is doing great!
But it’s still got one last section to suffer in:
It is unfortunately easy for people interested in email marketing services to forget the importance of security.
After all, it’s just email automation, right? Performance and features would matter first to most, with security a minor issue.
No, my friends—think again.
The company you’re using to market through email is helping you navigate lots of contact information.
At the bare minimum, you’re dealing with an email address. And often, you’ll be dealing with more—names, interests, possibly even real addresses.
And if you’ve worked hard to get people’s trust and cultivate an email list, imagine the blow to your reputation if your email marketing software gets hacked and your contact list is compromised.
Now it’s unfortunately unrealistic to expect PERFECT security from a smaller firm devoted to a more niche aspect of marketing. But it’s still important for us to keep our expectations high.
With that said, let’s see how well Constant Contact does here.
This is what they offer for physical security:
The data centers used by Constant Contact are secured with physical security: security guards check locations, and biometric authentication is needed for access, plus valid badge/IDs.
Also, the servers are monitored 24/7, and access to infrastructure is very limited.
This sounds great but is honestly all kind of standard practice.
What I do find to be more unique is that Constant Contact doesn’t share space with other companies or clients of data centers—that’s a nice guarantee of isolation.
Physical security isn’t all, though:
Constant Contact also maintains multiple firewalls, encrypts everything (with HTTPS and SSL), regularly reviews the information that relates to vulnerabilities, and otherwise keeps up to date with security practices.
You can read about this stuff in more detail here.
So when we take all of that stuff into account, the question becomes this:
Is it enough?
Well, I’d be lying to you if I said this is above and beyond what a company SHOULD do.
But this isn’t a perfect world, and not all companies do this.
Much fewer companies of Constant Contact’s size—these are the standards that companies with MILLIONS of active users would have, not hundreds of thousands.
So while it’s not the best security you’ll ever see in a software company, Constant Contact does seem pretty well-off. It’s at least the better side of average, and perhaps even better than most.
Let’s take this good point and put it next to all the other good and bad points of Constant Contact:
- Solid performance—no major issues.
- Very intuitive and easy to use.
- Features are good even if you choose a more basic plan. Plus, there are some unique/rarer tools included.
- Lots of integrations to other prominent (and less prominent) software or websites.
- Pretty good customer support.
- Decent security.
- In general, one of the more expensive email marketing platforms around.
- Specifically: if you have a lot of contacts but not a lot of income off of that, the plans’ pricing structure may present problems. You would need to stay within a certain number of contacts to avoid increasing your plan’s price.
- Automation is a little limited to two or three main tools. It’s probably fine for most smaller businesses and marketers, but other platforms have more advanced offerings.
- Some upselling that might annoy customers.
Frequently Asked Questions about Constant Contact:
You Said It’s Easy To Use, But What If I’m A Beginner Who Needs Help With Strategy?
Yes, Constant Contact is easy to use as far as the software interface goes. And it does have good customer support, too.
But even that doesn’t mean someone who’s new to email marketing will have a great time, or more importantly, do the best they can.
Constant Contact does have educational services which you can pay for, but as far as free stuff goes:
The Constant Contact blog sometimes has fluff pieces, but it does have real content mixed in as well. This can contain lots of useful advice or pointers, despite being not quite the same as “customer support.”
Another resource is the “email campaign strategy” page. It’s basically got a long list of strategy ideas that you can use as inspiration, or even just copy directly if you’re a beginner.
You just need to click on your industry and you can view not only general strategies but promotion ideas and template design tips.
If you need more than that, and more than what’s in the customer support, you may want to look into hiring someone to market for you.
Is The Free Trial Actually A Money-Back Guarantee? Do I Need My Card To Sign Up?
Nope, and nope.
The free trial is exactly what it means: you’ll make an account, and you don’t need to register a payment method.
Then you’ll basically be able to get started using the service. It’s essentially fully-featured, except you’ll be limited to 100 contacts during the trial.
Once the 60 days go by, you’ll need to pay to continue using. But you won’t have to deal with refunds or missing deadlines that end up costing money.
So go ahead and have fun with it!
Constant Contact Review: Summary
Whether or not I recommend Constant Contact boils down to this central tension:
It’s an overall very good service, but it’s expensive.
It’s because of the price tag that I can’t recommend Constant Contact to everyone. I do, however, recommend it to most people. Namely:
People who look at the price tag, and don’t wince.
Sounds obvious? These are the people and businesses who either can handle the prices listed or who expect to deal with a limited number of contacts—a number that keeps them within the first or second threshold.
Within the first 500 and first 2,500 contacts, Constant Contact’s prices are still reasonable. After that second threshold, the price might make you scratch your head a bit.
The thing to keep in mind is that aside from price, Constant Contact manages to be strong in basically all other areas:
It performs very well, is easy to use, has a lot of features (including some unique ones), has great customer support, and has solid security.
Other companies might be lower priced and offer similar strengths. Those who need a more affordable marketing tool should check those out.
But a lot of people will find they can’t skip out on Constant Contact’s features, or easy-to-use drag-and-drop editor. And for those, the price will be well worth it.
It’s Your Turn Now!
Click on the blue button to get started or check out our Top 5 Email Marketing Services below: