In response to questions about how we manage our email list and deliver Management Consulting News, I thought I’d give you a review of the service we use, Constant Contact.
I started using Constant Contact more than five years ago to manage this newsletter list and the one for my other newsletter, The Guerrilla Consultant. We use the service to sign up new subscribers and to send out the newsletters each month.
Overall, I’ve been very satisfied. When it comes to technical skills, I know just enough to be dangerous. Even so, I’m able to manage most aspects of my list maintenance and newsletter delivery without any trouble.
The Constant Contact system is cost-effective, easy-to-use, and it can handle most any sized email list with ease. You can test every email before you send it, the email delivery reports are comprehensive, and your options for cleaning up your list are good.
You can probably find a less expensive or more feature-rich system, as there are lots of choices on the market. For me, Constant Contact has one unbeatable feature: it’s reliable. Since I started using the system, I’ve had only one minor problem that Constant Contact caused.
Like any such service, Constant Contact isn’t perfect. There are some annoying “features,” but that’s to be expected. Over the years, I’ve found three areas that could be improved.
Constant Contact offers a library of newsletter templates that you can use as a starting point. Most of those design templates are pretty cheesy. You could use one of these off-the-shelf designs, but it’s likely that you’ll be happier–and so will your readers–if you design your own. Also, be aware that if you use your own newsletter template, the Constant Contact support staff won’t be able to help you with HTML issues.
Second, the support for the system is about as good as you could expect for a high-volume operation. I always get answers to my questions, either by phone or via online chat. But sometimes the response is slower than I’d like. You’ll probably be satisfied with the support process if you don’t need help with a complex question ten minutes before you have to publish.
Finally, when I first converted my list to Constant Contact, the service treated my existing subscribers as though they had signed up via a single opt-in process, even though they had done a double opt-in. This meant that Constant Contact hosted my initial list on a server with other single opt-in lists, which had a higher probability of being blocked by ISPs. I understand the company’s policy, but it was a nuisance.
Still, I’d recommend Constant Contact for email list maintenance and delivery. My needs aren’t overly complex, so the system works well for me. It’s easy to learn, the cost is reasonable, and the support is good. Constant Contact offers other services, including event marketing and survey management. Since I haven’t used those services, I can’t comment on their quality.