You’ve heard John say it before, just as you’ve heard countless other Internet marketing gurus say it before. The power is in the list. This is true if you’re a professional blogger who wants to stay in touch with his audience or you are a company of any size that wants to promote new and exciting products. The challenge is finding the best way to manage that list and make sure that your newsletters don’t end up in the junk folder.
For today’s review, we turn to one of the most popular solutions on the Web. It’s called iContact.com and it’s a part of the Vocus family. The core objective with iContact is to increase your brand awareness and reach your audience through e-mail.
The Complete Email Marketing Solution
Whether you have a modest mailing list of only a few hundred subscribers or you have a much larger list with thousands and thousands of people, iContact wants to power your email marketing efforts. Here in Vancouver, we find the Big City Perks daily deal site and The Georgia Straight newspaper using iContact for their newsletters, among countless others from across the country and around the world.
At its most basic level, iContact will let you manage your mailing list, compose your messages, and distribute those messages to your subscribers. However, the feature set goes far beyond that. For instance, one of the most powerful features is called SPAM Check. It reviews and scores every message that you send, flagging those that have a higher likelihood of being marked as spam, so that you can edit your message before sending it out. iContact will also track your emails, including opens, unsubscribes and click-throughs.
Some of the other notable features include the ability to create surveys right within your messages, so that you can get feedback from your customers and readers, as well as the easy creation of sign-up forms to insert on your website. iContact also integrates with your social media efforts, seeing the impact you make through the networks and embedding social sharing buttons in your email messages. The contact management feature lets you see the interaction history with any customer and the email split test lets you test new layouts to see which perform best.
Signing up for a free trial with iContact.com takes a matter of moments, granting you instant access to the user dashboard, even before you verify your e-mail address. You’ll still need to do that, of course, but it means you can get started right away.
To some people, the dashboard may not even look like a conventional dashboard in that it looks more like a part of the overall iContact website. Even so, you can click through the main sections through navigation bar at the top: home, contacts, email, social and reports. The layout is clean and easy to follow, giving you at a glance information about your account health, your last email statistics and so on.
Composing Newsletters with MessageBuilder
Some people are apprehensive about email marketing campaigns because they’re not familiar with how to create newsletter layouts. For them, iContact includes a tool called MessageBuilder.
You get to choose from hundreds of different templates that approach all sorts of different industries and come in a range of theme colors. Composing the message itself is similarly straightforward via the WYSIWYG editor, allowing you to insert images, move text, change fonts, alter alignments, insert bullet points and so forth. This is all done via a simple drag-and-drop interface.
For users who are more advanced and don’t want to use pre-designed templates, there is MessageCoder. This lets you build your newsletters from scratch via HTML in a WYSIWYG editor.
Maintaining Your Vocus
Whether you want to have a simple newsletter to send out to your blog readers or you have very complex email marketing needs for your larger corporation, iContact is strategically positioned to provide you with the tools and features that you need. Most importantly, iContact strives to deliver your messages to the inboxes of your subscribers, bypassing spam traps and blacklists.
Pricing starts at $10 per month for up to 250 subscribers with a 15% discount if you pay for an annual plan in advance. As your list grows, you can scale your plan accordingly. Try iContact free for 30 days and be more successful with your email marketing.