iContact Comparison and Review



iContact Review

Pros:

  • High quality customer service (scored 5 out of 5 stars)
  • Can export a clean contact list that automatically removes bounced and unsubscribed email addresses

Cons:

  • Cannot remove the vendor's logo from emails for free

Conclusion:

iContact scored well on Customer Service for their quick and helpful support. However, you cannot remove the vendor’s logo from your emails for fee. Their contact management is easy to use with the automatic removal of unsubscribes and bounces, and they also have an autoresponder feature that keeps readers informed and up-to-date.

Ease of Use

iContact received 4 out of 5 stars for Ease of Use. They offer over 600 email templates which we found to be moderately flexible. Their templates allow for up to three columns of text, and they offer 5 MB of image hosting space, which meets our Market Standard. They offer a WYSIWYG editor that allows you to see exactly what your email campaign is going to look like to your readers as you are editing it. This vendor does not let you remove their logo from your eNewsletter for free.

Features

iContact offers SpamAssassin to scan your email for spam keywords. They also have an autoresponder, which allows you to send a welcome message to your new subscribers to confirm their sign-up. In addition, iContact lets you include a link in your email to Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and LinkedIn. They do not offer an automatic A/B testing feature, but you can manually develop an A/B test by segmenting your contact list. They also do not have Google Analytics integration with their reports. However, iContact does offer a mobile application for iPhone and Android users that provides access to your account and enables you to schedule messages and check on your email campaigns’ performance from your device.

Managing Contacts

iContact scored 4 out of 5 stars for Managing Contacts. You can import contacts from CSV files, as well as cut and paste. However, you cannot import contacts from other email accounts. Unsubscribes and bounces are automatically removed from your contact list, making it easy to manage your “clean” list.

Customer Service

iContact received 5 out of 5 stars for Customer Service. They offer phone support Monday through Friday from 4 A.M. to 8 P.M. EST and live chat support from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. EST. They also offer 24/7 email support. We found their customer support to be prompt and very helpful with no wait times.

Campaign Reports

iContact received 4 out of 5 stars for Campaign Reports. We found that their reports accurately reflect user actions. Their reports display opens, forwards, number of clicks, unsubscribes, and spam reports but do not display bounces or top performing links. You cannot receive reports in an email, but you can display reports in graphs and export reports into a spreadsheet.

Pricing

iContact's free plan includes 500 contacts and 2000 emails per month for an indefinite amount of time. This free service has fewer features than their paid accounts. You can also get a free 30-day trial to try out their paid service. Their pricing structure is contact-based, which is advantageous if you plan on sending more than one email per month to the same list of contacts. They offer 250 contacts per month for $10, 500 contacts for $14, 1000 contacts for $19, and 2500 contacts for $29, among other plans.

iContact News

Thursday, August 26, 2010

iContact Introduces Android App

This week iContact announced the email marketing industry’s first app for the Google Android Smartphone. The email marketing software now allows small business owners and marketing professionals the ability to perform critical email campaign tasks on the Google Android operating system.

"iContact customers are tech savvy, resourceful and always on the go. We are excited to be the first in our market to respond to customer demand with the new Android Email Marketing app," says  iContact CEO Ryan Allis. "This app will help our customers manage their professional email marketing on the go."

The new iContact for Android offers these new features:

  • Search and add new contacts
  • Take contacts from your Android address book and add them directly to your email marketing contact lists
  • Preview and send your email drafts right away or schedule all of your prepped email campaigns
  • Track your messages with ease
  • View your clicks, opens, and message bounces in real-time
  • Forward your email marketing tracking data to anyone
  • Have quick access to full iContact Customer Support inside the application

iContact for Android is the second of mobile applications from iContact. The first, iContact for iPhone, was launched in May 2010.

Friday, July 2, 2010

iContact Integrates with Social Networking

iContact, a popular email marketing service for small businesses, and Flowtown, the fastest growing social marketing platform on the web, announced an integration last week that will allow iContact users to segment their subscribers based on their social networking use.

Flowtown has integrated its platform with iContact’s email marketing software, and now iContact users can now easily segment any subscriber list by age group, gender, location, occupation, and social network at a low cost.

“In the past, sending targeted email was very expensive and only available to the Fortune 500,” commented Ethan Bloch, co-founder of Flowtown. “The Flowtown and iContact integration will enable anyone to segment their lists more effectively and increase open and click rates by sending more targeted email.”

With this new feature, the user is able to find out which social networks each of their contacts are on, send them a targeted email offering a specific promotion or sale, and then encourage customers to visit them on social networking sites like Twitter and Facebook.

“This integration brings email marketing to the social web,” added Keith Moore, Chief Marketing Officer for iContact. “To be able to segment customers based on not only their age and location, but by social network, is powerful. Email has never been more social!”

Learn more by checking out the short introduction video.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Vendor Update: iContact Releases iPhone and iPod Touch App

Last week, email marketing software iContact announced the release of its mobile applications for the iPhone and iPod Touch.iContact’s 63,000 customers can now search contacts, access real-time analytics about their email campaigns, and send email from the palm of their hand with this app.

“iContact for iPhone lets users tap into our powerful email marketing system on the go,” says Keith Moore, iContact’s chief marketing officer. “This is just one example of what is possible with iContact’s new API [application programming interface] v.2 environment. We are excited about the many customer-focused changes coming from iContact this year.”

With the new iContact app you can:

    * Search contacts, add a contact from your iPhone address book or add contacts to any of your email marketing lists.
    * Preview your email drafts before you send them.
    * Send or schedule a send for all of your prepared email marketing campaigns.
    * Track message bounces, clicks, opens, and much more with clear graphics.
    * Forward your email marketing tracking reports to anyone.
    * Access full customer support—either by calling or emailing iContact’s support team.

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Entrepreneur Magazine Profiles iContact's Business Model

Often businesses focus more on making money and less on philanthropy, but for the two founders of iContact, profitability and philanthropy go hand in hand.

In an Entrepreneur Magazine profile, cofounders Ryan Allis and Aaron Houghton discuss the humble beginnings of the email marketing provider and describe their business model, which factors in nonprofit goals. The two University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill alums met in the Entrepreneurship Club in 2002. At the time, Allis owned a web marketing consulting company and Houghton owned a web design and software company. Houghton had developed an online email list management tool, and Allis soon realized how much easier it was than the software he used in his own marketing business. The two then joined forces and formed iContact Corp.

By the second year, the company started turning a profit, allowing the company to engage in charity work. Through a corporate social responsibility policy referred to as the "4-1s," iContact began donating 1% of its payroll, employee time, product and equity to various nonprofit organizations. Allis suggested to Entrepreneur that by generating profits, you can accomplish philanthropic goals without being distracted by having to raise donations, also while growing your business. 

iContact's revenue catapulted from $300,000 in 2004 to $26.4 million last year. With 190 employees and a 2009 payroll of $10.9 million, iContact was able to make $109,000 in cash donations last year. The company also donated free usage of iContact to nearly 700 nonprofits and gave each iContact employee two-and-a-half paid days off to perform volunteer work, generating 475 days of volunteer work among 63 organizations.

Not only does this article give great insight into the early days of iContact and its great business model, but it also help inspire your small business to  foster a philanthropic community at your workplace.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

iContact Named No. 1 Email Marketing Service Provider in Website Magazine

In its March issue, Website Magazine named iContact, a popular email marketing software for small and mid-sized businesses, the No. 1 Email Marketing Service Provider and Resource for Web professionals. The article also cites studies that show that email marketing as a dominant communications tool for marketing.
   
Website Magazine’s Top 50 rankings are measured by the website’s popularity. Rankings are based on average daily unique visitors and page views over a specified period of time. The site with the highest combination of factors and variables is ranked in the first position, which happens to be iContact.

“Email Service Providers, such as those listed in this month's Website Magazine Top 50, provide Web marketers the ability to communicate to a broader audience in a personal, non-invasive way,” commented Peter Pestipino, Editor-in-Chief of Website Magazine. “Email has retained its position as the dominant communication channel.”

The March issue of Website Magazine is available now to subscribers and in digital form on Website Magazine’s…well, website.

Some of iContact’s standard features include message scheduling, open and clickthrough tracking, WYSIWYG editor and SpamCheck, with more advanced features that include RSS feeds, subscriber action history, multiple message autoresponders and list segmentation.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

iContact Investigating Hack Attack

A few weeks ago if you searched for iContact on Twitter, you would have seen several comments from users of the email marketing service provider who were complaining of a hack attack on their accounts and a leak of personal information. This week the company announced they are investigating the situation.

“As noted in our blogs posts, iContact may have been the target of illegal attempts to access information from our database,” iContact’s marketing executive Chuck Hester told Local Tech Wire. “We are actively investigating the allegations, but we do not have any additional information to share at this time.”

In a blog post last Monday, iContact said the company asked the FBI for help in its investigation of the hack. ”Data security is a high priority at iContact,” Hester told LTW. “We remain committed to maintaining security measures to protect customer information from illegal access.”

In another blog post, the email newsletter siteemail newsletter site addressed the data that was involved in the hack, which apparently only included subscriber email addresses. iContact also said they had no information to indicate that other data had been affected, including credit card data, customer names or affiliate names. iContact was first alerted to the issue after several customers contacted them about receiving more spam than usual. After launching an investigation, the company took steps to increase its security, including:

1.    "Adding additional monitoring and access controls.
2.    "Reviewing all internal access.
3.    "Verifying the integrity of our existing systems from outside attacks.
4.    "Expanding VPN [virtual private networks] requirements.
5.    "Evaluating additional logging capabilities.
6.    "Auditing our web, intrusion, and security systems."

No further announcements have been made regarding the investigation. If you are an iContact subscriber and believe you may have been a victim of a hacker, contact the company immediately.

iContact's Pricing

Free Trial

30 Days

250 Contacts

$10.00

500 Contacts

$14.00

1000 Contacts

$19.00

2500 Contacts

$29.00


iContact's Ratings

Ease of Use

4

Managing Contacts

4

Campaign Reports

4

Customer Service

5

iContact's Features

WYSIWYG Editor

Yes

Import Contacts From

Cut & Paste, Excel, Salesforce, and Outlook as a CSV file

Email Deliverability

100%

Reports Display

Opens, forwards, clicks, unsubscribes, spam reports, graphs

Customer Service

Email (24/7), Phone and Live Chat (M-F 4a-10p ET)

Quantity of Templates

600

Image Hosting

5 MB

Automatic Bounce Cleanup

Automatic Unsubscribe Removal

Website Signup Form

A/B Testing

-

Google Analytics Integration

-

Social Networking Integration

-

Autoresponder

Spam Checker

Human Approval

-

Brand logo removal

-