iContact email marketing service review

Email marketing made easy for small businesses

iContact Review Hero
(Image: © iContact)

TechRadar Verdict

iContact provides a solution that is both easy to use and powerful. With its drag-and-drop email design tools, smart email automation, and useful analytics, iContact is a good all-round email marketing tool ideal for a small business or professional marketer.

Pros

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    Versatile email building tools

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    Unlimited emails with upper plan

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    Upfront pricing with free tier

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    Integrates with apps such as PayPal

Cons

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    Has suffered a past security breach

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    No 24/7 support

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    Custom quote required for over 500 contacts

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iContact (opens in new tab) goes back to 2003, and is one of the longest-running email marketing services (opens in new tab) available today, with over 100k small businesses using it, including NASA, Habitat for Humanity and the Tennis Channel. It has features for small businesses new to email marketing such as the drag and drop email editor, and powerful tools for professional internet marketers like landing pages.

When introduced, iContact was one of the best email marketing services for automating marketing emails, but how does it still hold up today? In our iContact email marketing services review, we focus on whether the software remains a top choice.

Pricing

(Image credit: iContact)

Plans and pricing

iContact has two primary plans—Free and Advanced. For businesses with fewer than 500 contacts, the Free plan is actually no cost, and the Advanced plan starts at $23/month. The Free plan (opens in new tab) does not require a credit card, and has features such as a drag and drop email designer, email support, and the ability to send up to 2,000 emails monthly.

The Advanced plan (opens in new tab) adds features, and supports up to 1,500 contacts in the lowest configuration. This upper tier plan has an unlimited number of sends per month, marketing automation, unlimited landing page creation, and phone, live chat (opens in new tab) and email support. The Advanced plan also adds more automation workflows such as campaigns for customer re-engagement and event promotion.

Prices increase on a sliding scale based on the number of subscribers you have. For example, if you have 5,000 subscribers then the price is $65/month for the Advanced plan, and $199/month for 25,000 contacts. If instead you have over 50,000 subscribers, you will need to contact the company for a custom quote.

Also of note, iContact also includes a free Kickbox account. This works to maintain a “Healthy contact list,” so that emails reach their intended recipients. There is also a 20% discount available for qualifying non-profit organizations.

(Image credit: iContact)

Features

iContact has a drag-and-drop editor for emails that creates fully responsive layouts (emails look equally great on computers and also mobile devices.) If you choose the Advanced plan, you have access to a drag-and-drop landing page designer.

You can use automation tools to send emails programmatically based on customer behavior, such as by date and time, via subscriber events, and with engagement triggers. You can also A/B split test your emails to find which of your marketing messages perform the best.

(Image credit: iContact)

Set-up

Setting up iContact is easy and involves signing up with your name, email address, and phone number. When first accessing the iContact dashboard, you’re encouraged to add contact lists, which you can enter manually, or upload in .csv or .xls formats. Contacts can be arranged into smart groups called segments and add custom fields.

Creation of the first email message is easy, starting with hundreds of temples, then there are over 40 themes to choose from, each with around 12 layouts. Elements can be dragged and dropped around the email design with ease.

(Image credit: iContact)

Performance

In our testing, we found iContact’s email deliverability rate an improvement over most email marketing tools we’ve tried. Of note, very few emails sent from this platform end up being sent to the abyss of the spam inbox.

Over 1,000 licensed stock images (opens in new tab) are available to create a unique email for maximum impact, and designing an email is straightforward with the drag-and-drop interface. However, the task is more difficult if you want to create an email from scratch.

iContact also has strong list management tools. It’s simple to create subsets of contact lists based on, for example, zip code or when the user was added to the database. This platform also easily integrates with in excess of over 100 apps, including PayPal (opens in new tab), Shopify (opens in new tab), and Survey Monkey (opens in new tab).

Security

An area that iContact falls short is with data security where there is just a standard privacy policy and a few brief sentences explaining iContact is hosted at an audited SAS 70 type-2 certified data center.

(Image credit: iContact)

iContact has been certified compliant with the EU-U.S. Privacy Shield Framework and the Swiss-U.S. Privacy Shield Framework. However, in 2010 the service suffered a significant security breach where subscriber email addresses were compromised.

Support

iContact features a wealth of content to assist you become a better email marketer. There are over 100 professionally created webinars, videos, and guides to optimizing your PR, email designs, and campaigns that can help both novices and experts alike. The professional content available via a blog, podcast, and email lookbook will all help to turn you into a marketing expert, for example the webinar on “Head & Heart of Marketing: Why Your Emails MUST Have These 10 Things.” We also found excellent video walkthroughs of the software and training videos on every aspect of the portal.

Support

(Image credit: iContact)

For technical support, a packed FAQ section explains every part of the software for those looking for self help. The Free plan only has email support, and we found a support portal to initiate contact. Alternately, Advanced plan users can access live chat and phone support for direct contact, and are available Monday to Friday 9am –7pm EST.

The competition

An alternative to iContact, Infusionsoft is worth a look, especially if you have tons of contacts to work with and you feel iContact’s features aren’t quite advanced enough for your needs. iContact has plenty of the tools that a small business requires, but Infusionsoft empowers larger businesses to embrace more complicated and automated workflows, with better list management control than iContact.

Final verdict

In summary, iContact offers a solid product, and is priced competitively. The excellent onboarding and comprehensive tutorials make it a solid choice for a small business starting out in email marketing, with tons of support articles, webinars, and blogs to support your ongoing growth. While some professional marketers might find the automation, segmentation, and metrics lack the detail required for large-scale, complex marketing plans, those with more modest goals are sure to be pleased with what iContact does better than most.

Jonas P. DeMuro is a freelance reviewer covering wireless networking hardware.