Social Media Channel: Email Marketing
Target Market: Small businesses, nonprofits and start-up companies.
History & Growth
Constant Contact was founded as “Roving Software” in 1995 in Brookline, Massachusetts. At the time, email was primarily viewed as a means of communication amongst friends online. However, the company founders believed it had potential to become a powerful marketing tool for small businesses, allowing them to somewhat level the playing field of bigger corporations.
By 2005, Constant Contact had grown to over 50,000 customers and only two years later over 100,000. In 2007 Constant Contact added online surveys to its line of products, and event marketing in 2009.
By 2009 Constant Contact had opened a second location in Loveland, Colorado, followed by additional offices in San Francisco and the United Kingdom. With this growth came the introduction of new products (Social Campaigns, SaveLocal, and Single Platform), as well as an increase in the level of support and customer service. Constant Contact added online chat, additional coaching, and local classes for face to face learning, just to name a few.
In 2014, the Toolkit was introduced as an all-in-one marketing solution. As of May 2014, Constant Contact has grown to to encompass over 600,000 small organizations. First quarter financial results for 2014 reported an increase of 15.6% revenue from the first quarter results of 2013, growing from $68.2 million in 2013 to $78.9 million in 2014.
What does Constant Contact do?
Constant Contact is an email marketing platform utilized to create and disseminate email marketing campaigns. There are both standard campaign options and campaign “plus” options. The standard types of campaigns that are capable of being created are: newsletters, announcements, business letters, press releases, event announcements and feedback/review emails. Plus Campaigns allows for the creation of more advanced campaign types, such as promotions, registration and payment for events, local deals, Facebook promotions, trackable coupons, donations, surveys and polls.
Why is email marketing important?
The following statistics have been provided to display the value of email marketing as a social channel. While many of these statistics can be found in the below infographics (which you can click on to locate the source and enlarge), I have included a few bullet points for ease of reading:
- Number of email accounts worldwide = 3.3 billion (Social networking accounts = 2.7 billion)
- Email is often the first thing people check and they check it multiple times per day.
- Email is the most dominant way of sharing information.
- Email is the preferred method of commercial communication by 74% of adults online.
- It gets a better response: The average direct mail response rate is 1-2%, while the average email marketing campaign averages a 20-30% open rate.
How and why does email marketing work?
While the statistics are helpful and provide valid, concrete information, you are probably still wondering, how can email marketing help MY small business? (Furgison, 2014)
- Email keeps your business at top of mind (i.e. newsletters, holidays, etc.).
- Establish authority (i.e. industry news, product use tips, etc.)
- Establish and nurture relationships through email (i.e. welcome email, happy birthday, testimonials, etc.)
- Email marketing can increase sales (i.e. new product emails and promotions).
- Improve retention (i.e. reminder to reorder).
Getting Started with Constant Contact
Getting started with Constant Contact does not require an initial commitment, as there is a free trial option. To create your first campaign you can choose from one of the many pre-designed templates or have the in-house professional service team assist with creating a custom design. In addition to design, the Constant Contact staff is more than willing to help walk you through the steps for uploading your contacts and sending your first email.
For more detailed information on creating and sending your first campaign, Constant Contact has created a user friendly PDF guide: Creating Your First Email Campaign with Constant Contact, A step-by-step guide for first time email marketers.
Pricing is dependant on the type of campaign package you choose and the number of contacts in your account.
Features of Constant Contact
In addition to the variety of campaign types, Constant Contact also offers the ability to store and maintain multiple contact lists and information. Contact lists can be segmented and assigned to aid in organization. Additionally, Constant Contact offers multiple resources and tools for growing your contact list. In addition to Constant Contact’s 60 Ways to Grow Your Email List, they also offer a desktop tool designed to add and update contacts directly from your computer, as well as apps such as iCapture (for iPad or Android) and Shoeboxed, which imports information directly from business cards.
Constant Contact also offers the ability to track email responses and creates easy to read reports. Detailed, real-time tracking shows you who has opened your emails, who has clicked through, forwarded, purchased items, registered for events, redeemed offers and more.
In 2014 the Constant Contact Toolkit was created as an all-in-one online marketing platform designed to bring together the tools needed to drive repeat customers and reach new ones. Toolkit combines new and existing elements of Constant Contact making it easier for small businesses to improve their marketing and achieve their individual business goals. Constant Contact CEO, Gail Goldman, elaborates on the features and benefits of Toolkit, including the ability to plug Google Analytics into Toolkit.
Constant Contact’s Integration with Social Channels
Like many email marketing companies, Constant Contact allows for the addition of social sharing buttons to campaigns. This allows email recipients to easily find and follow your company on various social media platforms.
A share bar, which is located at the top of your email just below the name, subject line and reply email, can also easily be added to allow email recipients to easily share your content with their friends and family via social media.
Constant Contact offers the ability to post campaigns to social networks using Simple Share, which publishes a link to your email, making it easily accessible directly from the web.
Images from Facebook and Instagram are also capable of being accessed directly through Constant Contact and utilized in campaigns.
Not only does Constant Contact enable integration with social media platforms directly, but they have also partnered with Hootsuite to allow users to monitor their campaigns through their dashboard. Additionally, if you utilize WordPress for your website, the Constant Contact WordPress plugin allows you to integrate your Constant Contact account with your website. Benefits of integrating your account with your website include easy email sign-up, the ability to build and design forms, promote events and receive additional analytic reporting.
Why social integration is important:
- From June 2010 to August 2011, small businesses and nonprofits that combined email marketing with social media marketing saw faster list growth, larger list size, and higher click-through rates than those only using email. (Constant Contact infographic)
- Emails that include social sharing buttons have a 158% higher click-through rate (Edgecomb, 2013).
- Constant Contact emails that included the Constant Contact’s Facebook Join My Mailing List application resulted in 1 million unique addresses added. (Constant Contact infographic)
Constant Contact is Mobile Friendly
Did you know….38% of emails are now opened on mobile devices, yet 63% of Americans will close an email not optimized for mobile (Edgecomb, 2013). If your company participates in email marketing, it must be mobile friendly! If that’s not enough to convince you, according to Edgecomb’s article, 64% of “decision-makers” read their emails via mobile.
Not only does Constant Contact offer mobile-friendly templates, but they also offer the ability to create email campaigns directly from your mobile device. The Toolkit app provides the ability to create and manage campaigns directly from your mobile device.
Effective Practices & Enhancements
As a Constant Contact user, I can attest to their exceptional level of customer service. Not only is the Constant Contact team responsive, but they are also polite and extremely helpful.
For a company geared toward online communication, you may expect them to be less responsive by phone, however this is not at all the case. While they do offer many helpful online resources, such as their blog, they also offer live classes and training in addition to webinars and other online training and educational opportunities.
Collier, A. September 4, 2013. 4 Tools to Help You Integrate Your Social Media and Email Marketing. Retrieved from http://blogs.constantcontact.com/fresh-insights/integrate-social-media/
Constant Contact, http://www.constantcontact.com.
Constant Contact, Inc. May 1, 2014. Constant Contact Announces First Quarter 2014 Financial Results. Retrieved from http://investor.constantcontact.com/releasedetail.cfm?releaseid=844694
Constant Contact Newsroom. April 23, 2014. New Constant Contact Study Links Multi-Channel Marketing to Small Business Success. Retrieved from http://news.constantcontact.com/press-release/new-constant-contact-study-links-multi-channel-marketing-small-business-success
Constant Contact Newsroom. N.D. The State of Email Marketing (infographic). Retrieved from http://news.constantcontact.com/image/infographic/state-email-marketing?cc=SM_PIN_ConstantContact
Edgecomb, C. July 30, 2014. 25 Compelling Statistics About the Importance of Email Marketing. Retrieved from http://www.impactbnd.com/blog/25-compelling-statistics-about-the-importance-of-email-marketing
Effective Student Marketing. N.D. Email is not Dead. Here’s Proof [INFORGRAPHIC]. Retrieved from http://effectivestudentmarketing.com/press/email-not-dead-heres-proof-infographic/
Furgison, L. April 30, 2014. How Email Marketing Helps Your Small Business. Retrieved from http://www.verticalresponse.com/blog/email-marketing-helps-your-business/
RI WebGurus. November 29, 2012. How to create an email campaign in Constant Contact. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vbNKkVya2rI
WordPress.org. Constant Contact for WordPress. Retrieved from https://wordpress.org/plugins/constant-contact-api/