iContact was founded in 2003, making it one of the earliest email marketing tools. It was the creation of an entrepreneur named Aaron Houghton who sought to build a platform that’ll make it easier for small businesses to engage with their customers via email marketing services. Given its focus on small businesses, affordability was a major selling point for iContact.
In 2012, iContact was acquired by marketing software company Vocus in a $169 million deal. In 2019, Vocus sold iContact to digital media company Ziff Davis (formerly J2 Global). This email marketing platform serves thousands of customers across the globe, including notable ones like Habitat for Humanity and the U.S. National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA).
iContact: Plans and pricing
iContact has just two plans; the free and the Advanced plan. The Free plan supports a maximum of 500 contacts and 2,000 monthly emails, making it suitable only for businesses with a small number of customers.
The Advanced plan starts at $23 / £23 / AUD$36 per month for 1,500 contacts and increases according to the number of contacts. For instance, 5,000 contacts will cost $65 / £60 / AUD$100 per month and 50,000 contacts will cost $350 / £320 / AUD$535 per month. Anything above 50,000 contacts, and you'll need to contact iContact's sales team directly to arrange a custom deal.
The Advanced plan lets you send an unlimited number of emails and host an unlimited number of landing pages; the only cap is on the number of contacts.
iContact is also available within a Salesforce account starting from $99 per month. If you subscribe to this plan, you can create and send emails directly from your Salesforce account.
Designing effective marketing emails from scratch can be difficult. But, iContact provides a drag-and-drop editor that makes it easier. The platform offers a collection of email templates that you can pick and customize to fit your brand using the drag-and-drop editor. Emails that you build using this editor are optimized for both PC and mobile displays without any extra effort from you; many people read their emails from smartphones, which makes this feature important.
If you have programming skills, you can edit the underlying HTML codes on the drag-and-drop editor to make your emails look better. Subscribers on the Advanced plan also have access to a drag-and-drop editor for creating landing pages.
iContact lets you use automation tools to send emails to customers based on specific conditions. For example, you can send an automatic welcome email to every person that signs up for your subscriber list. You can personalize these automated emails by including the recipient's name to make them feel important and more likely to respond.
It’s not to enough to send good email campaigns. You must also measure the performance of your campaigns to see if they’re delivering the intended results. Fortunately, iContact provides analytical and reporting tools to help you do that. You can monitor critical metrics such as your open rate, click-through rate, and bounce rate, and know when to adjust your marketing strategy or not.
iContact: Interface and use
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 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, Shopify, and Survey Monkey.
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.
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.
iContact: 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.
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.