Maybe if you're a begining novice but if you know what clickthrough rates or A/B test are, don't waste your time.
March 10, 2015

Maybe if you're a begining novice but if you know what clickthrough rates or A/B test are, don't waste your time.

Richard MacRae | TrustRadius Reviewer
Score 3 out of 10
Vetted Review
Verified User

Overall Satisfaction with iContact

We used iContact to send our retail and wholesale email newsletters for over 5 years.
  • Their deliverability was very good, our bounce rate averaged less than 2% and open rates were better than the email provider we moved to after we left iContact.
  • The user interface was relatively simple and easy to use, with only a couple exceptions it's very intuitive.
  • They have a large selection of templates to choose from, both completely blank and themed with graphics. Example: want to send a 4th of July themed email? Go into the email templates and they'll have several with fireworks and flags decorating the background and/or borders, all you have to do is plug in your main content and not worry about spending time "decorating" the email.
  • The amount of free storage they provide for hosting the images in your email is better than some of the others out there so if you need to store a lot of images for your emails it's easy to do within iContact and avoid using a third party hosting service, which complicates the email building process.
  • Very weak reporting. Example: they calculate click through rates based off of the number of emails you send, not off the number of people who opened the email and actually saw the links in your email. Because of this a poor open rate results in a poor click through rate, even if 100% of the people who read your email clicked on your link. If you're not aware how they're calculating this it could lead you to make some very poor decisions based on their misleading stats.
  • There is no automated A/B testing feature. You have to export your list, segment it in a spreadsheet, label each segment, then upload the segments, now you have the lists for the test emails and the main segment for the winner. Next you create the two versions of the email and send them. After you have collected enough data you have to examine the stats and choose a winner, then send it to your main segment. Both of the other email providers I've tired since have an automated A/B testing feature, create the test emails, the software segments your list, sends the test, waits for the data to come in, then sends the winner out to the remainder of your list. While they do have limitations, it's far easier than iContact.
  • They don't have any built in rendering or testing mechanism to see how your emails will look in Gmail vs.Yahoo, or a mobile device. If you want to do this you either have to use a third party service that you upload or send the email to or you can create various email accounts and send test emails to each, then log into each account to see how your email is displayed.
  • When I first started using them, our newsletters immediately gained a much better appearance due to their templates.
  • With their good delivery rates, I never had to worry about how many of our subscribers were NOT even getting a chance to see our emails due to them not reaching their inbox.
  • We always were able to make several times the annual cost of their service in revenue from our newsletters.
  • If I had been using a service with the more advanced features I could have done a lot more to get even better returns on our emails.
  • emailbrain,mailchimp
iContact far outperformed emailbrain in getting my emails to our subscribers (delivery rate) but with emailbrain I could easily send hyperlinks that opened pdf. documents, see how my email was going to look in a couple dozen different variations (gmail, yahoo, desktop, mobile), all within emailbrain. I could also very quickly and easily create A/B tests that would run, then the winning version would automatically be sent.

MailChimp has almost as many features as emailbrain but their delivery rates rival those of iContact and almost all of their templates are mobile friendly so they render well without having to take any special measures to make it happen. This is who I'm currently using and while I haven't been using them long the early results are CRUSHING emailbrain, and rivaling iContact but with a whole suite of features iContact can't even begin to touch. It takes me less than half the time (maybe as little as a third) to a accomplish my tasks in mailChimp as it did in iContact.
If you're a novice at mass email iContact could be good for you (I started with them in '09 with 410 subscribers) but as your list grows and you gain a better understanding of some of the intricacies of email marketing you'll become aware of it's many limitations. That's how it happened for me. If you're already practiced in mass emails and have a larger list then I'd definitely say this isn't for you. I just should have moved on years earlier so I could take advantage of the much more advanced features many other email providers offer.