[A]s your subscriber base and message frequency increase, it may be time to start shopping for a new email service provider that offers the key features Constant Contact is missing.
Constant Contact certainly offers some nice features. It has a user-friendly interface, offers a variety of responsive templates that are mobile friendly, and has a flexible list management feature designed with small business marketing in mind. However, despite its popularity, I've found that Constant Contact lacks a few really important features--especially once your subscriber counts and message frequency begin to increase.
So, if the developers at Constant Contact are reading, here are some opportunities that I hope they'll soon address:
1. No built-in A/B split testing feature.
A good marketer knows that testing email subject lines, design, and the call to action helps increase response rates. Unfortunately, this isn't a feature of Constant Contact and a manual workaround is required if you want to do A/B split testing on your campaigns.
Nobody's got time for that! This essential function needs to be an option in all email marketing software.
2. No subject line personalization.
Even without A/B testing, numerous statistics and my own experience show that incorporating the recipient's name or company name into your subject line increases open rates. However, Constant Contact considers this a practice of spammers and does not offer a feature to insert contact details into an email's subject line.
That's strike two against Constant Contact's ability to help improve open and click-thru rates.
3. Limited subscription management feature.
I advise all clients to follow the best practice of using a subscription management page to give those who opt-in an opportunity to control the types and/or frequency of messages they receive. For example, it's fairly common for industry associations to regularly send a member newsletter, monthly legislative updates, and occasional event information. Some subscribers may be interested in receiving the newsletter and legislative updates, but not the event information. Others may only be interested in event information, while a portion of your subscribers may want to receive all of your messages. Allowing subscribers to choose from categories of information will reduce the number of folks who unsubscribe because they're receiving too many or irrelevant emails.
Be sure to include a description of each content category, as well as the frequency you plan to send those types of messages (daily, weekly, monthly, no more than six times per year, etc.) on your subscription management page. Then, once you have your form in place, you can include a "manage subscriptions" link that precedes the "unsubscribe" option on each of your email messages.
Now here's the rub with Constant Contact: they use a subscription management form like I've described above for managing their own marketing list, but don't offer this as a feature that paying customers can incorporate into their own email marketing. Yes, you can use a subscription management form, but you cannot add descriptions or links to examples of the subscriptions options.
For those who only send one type of newsletter on a monthly or even weekly basis, this shouldn't be an issue. However, your subscriber base and message frequency increase, it may be time to start shopping for a new email service provider that offers the key features Constant Contact is missing.
Perhaps I'm being a bit harsh, as Constant Contact does offer many great features compared to the three I've found it's lacking. However, with so many providers to choose from, I'd rather start with one that has the functionality to grow as your needs do. Luckily, there are lots of other options out there.
I've had good experience using MailChimp, but I'll provide a list of more alternatives you may want to consider in my next post. In the meantime, feel free to use the comments section to me and your fellow email marketers who your preferred email service provider is and why.