Using social media and blogging has become a way of life for many people whether its personal, small business or larger companies, it’s important to choose the right tools to distribute your social media marketing messages.
There are many platforms out there for distributing these social media messages via e-mail marketing, many with great features but many with poor features. In the early days of doing Email Marketing I reviewed many products, the popular ones being Aweber, Constant Contact, Vertical Response, Benchmark Email and IContact are just but a few.
After deciding what was important to me in an Email Marketing platform I chose IContact
. The features that most impressed me were easy and obvious navigation of this platform but also the strong ability to manufacture custom HTML and in line CSS templates which can then be manipulated by IContacts WYSIWYG editor
In 2010 IContact
upgraded many features including social media plug-ins, a new message builder interface and today 9th of July 2011
they have just released a whole new fresh look to their interface.
First impressions after logging in were the speed of page loads are considerably faster without the bloated graphical boxes. The navigation is very similar and still very easy to understand with having permanent high level tabs for home, contacts, create, send and track.
Another nice improvement is the fast pull down list in the top right corner for account configuration and management. This new interface offers two click availability to nearly all features from any where in the interface. The body of the home screen has not changed in content and features, just smoother faster load times and cleaner presentation. A good move!
After initially logging in, the home screen offers an efficient overview of your account including the current subscriber count with details of individual lists, your remaining message count for that month, your image library of which you get 5 MB as standard and a detailed breakdown of your last message sent statistics. Various other modules are shown to do with help functions, IContact
community, and general news. The last panel to mention is the Partner Central which offers a great way of tracking your affiliate program with IContact
. It’s worth noting that the affiliate program for IContact
gives you a 25% monthly commission on all affiliate signups, great for building passive income.
The contact page is the place to manage and create all your lists, offering various methods of uploading, one at a time, copy and paste, upload excel or csv files and the sign-up forms for embedding in your website (additional IContact
plug-ins and widgets are available for Joomla
making publishing the sign-up forms easy on these popular CMS platforms
). Managing contacts afterwards is easy, with flexible search facilities and contact browser.
The great benefit of using sign-up forms is the ability to deliver a squeeze page
which offers a service or product free for the price of collecting new contacts for your marketing lists and also triggering the autoresponder sequence which I’m sure we are all familiar with. A new additional feature this year is the Facebook Sign-up form
feature, allowing a Facebook fan page
to have your signup forms so extending your reach for list building.
Creating a new Email is easy with various options for the novice through to expert levels
, creating draft messages for use as part of a campaign, autoresponder sequence or surveys. I use both the online IContact
editor for creating draft template messages and also I use Dreamweaver to create more custom and complex templates for customers which can then be edited within the IContact WYSIWYG
. For those wanting an easy start-up route there are 100’s of templates to choose from all ready built-in to the system for you to use and modify.
The online editors for your email creation are concise and feature rich, with the facilities to manipulate text, paragraphs, tables, image placement and message proofing tools such as spam checker, spell checker and test Email sending.
The sending and scheduling process is straight forward whether sending a single campaign or building autoresponder sequences. All emails can be scheduled for immediate release or scheduled for release in the future using a calendar / time selection panel.
Once released, extensive tracking facilities are available for each Email and autoresponder sequence, giving statistics on open rates, bounce rates, click through rates and unsubscribes. Using these tracking statistics gives great feedback on testing what works and what doesn’t work so improving your deliverability in the future.
Some of the features introduced earlier this year were based on using social media integration with twitter and Facebook enabling auto publishing to these platforms for you and your customer. Other great additions such as iPhone apps, Android phone apps, Salesforce integration and extensive API programming interface makes this an all round winner.
In all, these changes released today have again proved that IContact
are making consistent efforts to improve an already good product. These latest interface changes are going to make navigation and the daily use of this product more efficient and productive. The interface performance is just great and when it comes to support, there is a UK support phone number making it easy to get in touch with IContact
. The TopTenREVIEWS website
has an interesting review of IContact.
has various packages to suit needs and experience, starting with the free package which offers up to 500 subscribers with no time limits. For those of with greater needs, packages start from $10 (£6-£7) a month. Sign up today for a free or trial account
to find out how good this product has really become. And don’t forget the many rewards for starting an affiliate program with 25% commission rates.