iContact is an e-mail marketing service that allows small- to medium-sized business, as well as individual professionals and freelancers, to find and target potential new customers with their products or services. Founded in 2003, iContact has been trying to help these sorts of businesses share products and ideas via e-mail and, more recently, through social marketing efforts.
iContact is a wholly owned subsidiary of Vocus, a company that provides cloud-based marketing and public relations software to businesses. The company has approximately 120,000 customers worldwide, with its services available in multiple languages. The company trades on the NASDAQ exchange under the ticker symbol VOCS.
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Building the Right Message
The iContact site allows users to develop newsletters and marketing materials without much prior experience or knowledge in HTML or coding. It offers several tools for its customers to develop materials, regardless of past experience. All of the templates are laid out so that users can easily add and manipulate content by using drag-and-drop techniques that allow for simple customization. There are hundreds of templates available to choose from to develop just the sort of message that will catch the attention of targeted customers.
The beginner-level tool is known as MessageBuilder. This tool is best for users who are not familiar with HTML development or who have little experience using it. This tool will walk users through letter and material creation with easy toolbars and templates, with links to guidance tools embedded right on the creation page. The templates can be easily customized with assistance from video tutorials and reference guides available on the side of every screen throughout the content development process. For the beginner user, having this sort of assistance available with just one click can make a tremendous difference.
For more advanced users, iContact offers the MessageCoder service, MessageCoder works for customers who have more experience in graphic design, HTML, and coding. Code can be imported from other templates or internal resources by advanced users. If desired, the user can even begin developing their newsletters and materials completely from scratch. This can be an extremely useful feature if the customer wants to develop targeted campaigns to track the reach and success of different types of materials.
iContact offers integration with current e-mail distribution lists, with tools in place to allow marketing materials and newsletters to the right audience. These tools will help customers messages get past spam filters and reach those customers who may be interested in materials or who have already signed up to receive newsletters. iContact’s customers can put forth e-mails and newsletters with the same template, and design sign-up forms for new customers that go well with the design chosen. These e-mails can also be put forth into social media, with links to the most popular social media sites and networks included and enabled within these developed materials.
Lastly, iContact offers some simple tracking tools for its customers, to help determine best practices. The graphs, while somewhat simple, provide at least a basic view into the types of messages and offers that generate the most interest. The site will allow users to see basic information — delivery percentages, reading percentages, some segmentation, and number of likes or re-tweets or shares within social media applications. Furthermore, advanced users can also embed specific tags that can allow for the tracking to dive a bit deeper to see what works and what does not work, providing for much better segmentation and tracking of various marketing efforts.
Support and Customer Service
The iContact site offers a lot of resources to its customers in terms of support and assistance. While they do not offer 24/7 customer service, they do offer many different methods for their customers to feel secure in developing, managing, and delivering content to their targeted subscribers and potential users.
First off, their support site offers a page of frequently asked questions to take care of most basic inquiries. They also offer full e-mail marketing and social media marketing guides that really get into the important aspects — not just the how-to, but also answering why it is important to have effective campaigns and why certain practices are better than others. They show best practices that other customers have used in developing campaigns in order to assist iContact users in campaign and newsletter development.
The iContact site goes beyond these basics in providing resources, however. Their support site also offers pre-loaded webinars and video tutorials so customers can watch, step by step, the techniques that other successful clients have previously used. There is also a link to a marketing blog, where tips and tricks are shared with all of iContacts users to keep them aware of trends and helpful hints in continuing to build an audience. As a result, even if there is no round-the-clock customer support offered, iContact customers have plenty of resources to ensure that even if they cant find an answer, they will be able to exhaust almost every effort on their own thanks to the resources already provided.
Now, if the situation arises that all the resources provided do not give a customer an answer, there are advisors who can deal with customers one on one to find out where the problem lies. Whether the solution lies in developing a highly customized template, importing complex address lists, or something else, the advisor can work with the customer until a resolution is reached and agreed upon by all parties.
The pricing offered by iContact is quite affordable, starting as low as $15 per month. Its pricing plans vary based on the number of subscribers, not on the number of e-mails sent out. These sorts of plans allow for customers of iContact to spread as wide a net as possible to bring in possible new customers.
Even better, iContact allows new users to use their services for one month for free. Its a great way for companies and business owners to get an idea of the full range of services that iContact can provide. It allows potential customers of iContact to take the time to try out their products and figure out if they will work. And if things dont work out, they can cut off their services within the 30-day timeframe. Its a highly trusting move on the part of iContact, allowing its potential customers to try out its services and letting their products speak for themselves.
iContact offers its services at a fairly priced option for small businesses and individual professionals and freelancers. The real value for iContact customers lies in the vast array of resources and training made available for customers to learn at their own pace during the free trial period. That facet of iContacts business is enough to warrant a look when deciding what direction to take a businesss e-mail marketing efforts.
Company Website: http://www.icontact.com