I’ve been road testing Constant Contact. Constant Contact have recently been doing a lot of work to their newsletter tool both in terms of usability and new features it never had before. There are a whole host of new features and improvements, which puts it back in the good contender for online marketing tools arena.
Constant Contact is a great tool for creating newsletters and managing contacts. Unlike a lot of other newsletter contenders, it has always allowed you to upload your contacts without them having to double opt in. So if you’ve been collecting contacts through another sign up means, there’s no need to get them to double opt in again, which is both annoying and a bit embarrassing!
As a comparison, a newsletter tool like Aweber requires all contacts you upload to be sent a verification email. Which is annoying if you simply want to move individuals from one list to another, for instance, a prospect turns into a client, so you would want to move them from prospect list to customer list.
With Aweber, there is a fiddly complicated cheat, but with Constant Contact it’s easy – you simply add and remove them from as many lists as you like to your heart’s content!
Constant Contact has also vastly improved their auto responder facility. An auto responder is a series of emails that get sent to people who’ve signed up through an opt in form. This is useful to help build up rapport with potential clients and guide them towards becoming a paying customer.
I say that Constant Contact have improved their auto responder because before, you could only have one auto responder series. But no more! You can now have as many different auto responder trails for as many different lists you like! Great news if you’re offering a variety of free reports and/or landing pages for different aspects of your services.
A tool like Mailchimp also has an auto responder that can be set up for different lists, but the backend is clunky and it’s not obvious where to find the buttons that allow you to customise the text and brand the various stages of the verification process. Constant Contact has improved their backend so you get prompted all along the way with suggested text that you can overwrite with text that matches your language and voice.
A downside to Mailchimp is that when you send out a mail campaign, you can only send it to one list. Which means you either have to duplicate the email campaign and send for each list you have and risk that there may be contacts in more than one list, which means you inadvertently end up spamming them with multiple copies of your newsletter.
Or, to avoid duplication, each time you send out a campaign, you have to create a merged master list of all your contacts. Either option is time-consuming.
That’s not an issue with Constant Contact. You only have to create an email campaign once and select as many lists as appropriate to receive it and it takes care of duplicate contacts and ensures that contacts receive only one copy of your campaign, no matter how many lists they are in.
That brings me nicely to segmentation. There are several ways you can segment lists. As well as creating lists with specific interests, you can ‘tag’ contacts. For example if you have several contacts in multiple lists who have expressed an interest in a particular product, you can ‘tag’ them, then create an email campaign specifically for them.
Another way to make use of tags; your email newsletter could contain links to various products or offers. The backend of Constant Contact will let you create a sub-list or tag the contacts who clicked through to the different products/offers, so you could send a follow up email campaign to just those contacts knowing they are interested (because they clicked through for more info) and not annoy the others on your list who didn’t express an interest by clicking through.
Constant Contact has also added 3 other features that are unique to CC that the likes of Mad Mimi, Mailchimp and Aweber don’t have. Namely a tool for managing events, social media campaigns and trackable offers and promotion coupons.
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