Archive for February, 2010

Constant Contact Replacement Recommendation: What is Your Favorite Email Marketing Application?

I have used Constant Contact as my preferred email service for medium to small scale mailings for several years. Throughout this time, Constant Contact has served me well with is basic feature set.  However, the product development has not kept pace with the changes of Internet communications and I am investigating alternative solutions.

The items Constant Contact lacks that are present in most competitive packages are:

  • Multiple levels of list views and segmentation.  Constant Contact provides for a simple set of email lists without any segmentation or cross list management capabilities.  This is the largest issue in that this requires numerous lists instead of one list with multiple parameters in a recipient profile.
  • A varying range of metrics beyond the simple sent, open, click thru and bounce rates.
  • A set of comparative trend charts and other metrics for presenting performance comparatively across campaigns.  No such metrics are available from Constant Contact.
  • Easy removal of the vendor brand.  The Constant Contact logo must be requested to be removed from each email and is discouraged.
  • Automated click thru tracking of links in email.  (Constant Contact requires manual coding to track links in custom HTML emails).
  • Ability to create your own email templates.  Constant Contact charges a fee and must create such templates themselves.
  • Integrated A/B testing of email subject lines and bodies.
  • Built-in preview of email layout in email clients. A simple HTML preview is all that is available in Constant Contact.
  • Unified billing.  Constant Contact charges come to a credit card with little if any detail. 
  • Cobranded interface.  We do not take advantage of the Constant Contact co-branding opportunity because it is cumbersome to setup and manage this brand.
  • Google Analytics integration.  Constant Contact offers no integration into Google analytics or other statistical packages,
  • Free archive and image hosting.  Constant Contact charges for the live archive of images and emails.  Other packages do not.
  • Unlimited custom fields.  Constant Contact has a limit of four custom fields.
  • Forms integration. Constant Contact offers no form builder or any service to easily create payment gateways for items such as donations.
  • Spam filter testing.  Constant Contact does not offer an easy test system to check if the emails will violate spam filters.
  • CMS integration is unavailable or limited.  Constant Contact does not offer or manage plug-ins to common CMS.  The few that are available come from third parties.
  • API restricted to list management.  The Constant Contact API is solely for list import and export.
  • Integration with third party tools such as WuFoo for forms, payment gateways, CRM and other technologies without API involvement on the user side.

 For a replacement I reviewed numerous packages and selected the following for side-by-side comparisons.  (HTML | PDF)

  • Constant Contact
  • mailChimp
  • Campaign Monitor
  • Benchmark Email
  • Fusemail
  • Mad Mimi
  • Bronto
  • Vertical Response
  • Stream Send
  • Myemma
  • Campaigner
  • iContact
  • sendloop

Click on the links (HTML | PDF) to see a product comparison table that includes the following vendors.  Right now, I am favoring mailChimp and Campaign Monitor. Let me know what you think of these or other vendors. And Constant Contact folks, when you find this, I am by all means open to your suggestions as well.