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Best Email Marketing Service Overall: iContact Review

Best Email Marketing Service Overall: iContact Review

After conducting extensive research and analysis, we recommend iContact as our 2018 pick for the best overall email marketing service. To understand how we selected our best picks, you can find our methodology and a comprehensive list of email marketing services on our best picks page.

iContact is our choice for best overall email marketing service because of its solid industry reputation, strategy and design consulting services, and helpful features. It also has excellent customer support. iContact prices start at $14 per month.

iContact offers two main service plans, Essential and Professional, that differ in price and number of features. Pricing for both plans is based strictly on contact list size. Costs for the Essential plan range from $14 a month for 500 subscribers to $117 for 15,000 subscribers. The Professional plan ranges from $99 per month for 500 subscribers to $249 for 15,000 subscribers.

Both plans include an array of features, such as a drag-and-drop email editor, welcome-message series automation, list segmentation, prebuilt templates, signup form creation and Google Analytics integration. The Professional plan adds automation tools, landing pages, engagement and behavior tracking, social monitoring, and funnel reports.

iContact offers a 15 percent discount on both plans if you prepay for a year. Qualifying nonprofits receive a 20 percent discount. There is also a 30-day free trial for either plan.

Editor's note: Considering an email marketing service for your business? If you're looking for information to help you choose the one that's right for you, use the questionnaire below to get quotes and information from a variety of vendors for free:

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What really attracted us to iContact is the expert services it can offer small businesses. In addition to its regular plans, iContact has service packages that it can tailor to your specific needs. These add-ons combine the DIY platform with guidance from an email marketing expert. While it's significantly more expensive than a regular package, it can be a great value to a small business that doesn't have much marketing experience.

  • Bronze: The Bronze add-on, which starts at $200 per month, includes one account strategy call and one customer strategic services project per quarter.
  • Silver: Starting at $250 per month, the Silver package includes monthly account strategy calls and one custom strategic services project per quarter.
  • Gold: The Gold package is an additional $300 per month. It includes a monthly account strategy call and two custom strategic services projects per month.
  • Platinum: The Platinum add-on, which is $640 per month, includes one monthly account strategy call, one quarterly account analytics call and one weekly custom strategic services project.
  • Unlimited sending: Both the Essential and Professional plan allow you to send an unlimited number of emails.
  • Drag-and-drop editor: You can build your own email layout or choose a template to customize with iContact's drag-and-drop editor.
  • A/B split testing: Use A/B testing to ensure you're sending the best content every time. You can conduct tests on a small number of contacts to determine the best variables, such as subject lines, layouts, incentives and color schemes. 
  • List management: You can send highly targeted emails with list management and segmentation. Create contact lists based on demographics, geography, social activity and onsite behavior.
  • Automation: You can create a campaign and then forget about it, because it'll send and time itself. iContact's strategic services team can help you create an automated journey if you need.
  • Campaign reports: With reports and analytics, you can determine what worked and what didn't. They'll show you data such as opens and bounces in real time.

iContact uses two separate platforms for its plans. We tested out the regular iContact and found the platform's dashboard simple to navigate. It has links that allow you to quickly create messages, add and review contacts, see the images you have saved, and create social postings.

The dashboard also highlights your most recent email marketing campaigns and some quick stats on each, such as how many people opened your email, how many clicked through to your website and the devices they opened your email on.

When creating a message, you can use the system's drag-and-drop editor or HTML coder. You can also create plain text messages. When using the drag-and-drop editor, you can choose from iContact's many themes.

You can create emails with a drag-and-drop editor or HTML coding.

The layouts are filled with different content blocks, such as text, images, headers and logos. You can remove and add any content block, as well as edit the text and colors of each block any way you like. When choosing a color scheme, you can pick from an extensive palette or select one of 15 preset themes.

After you create the message, you can preview how it looks on computers and mobile devices, and run it through a series of tests to ensure there aren't any spelling errors or content that will flag it as spam.

You can add contacts into the system one at a time or upload them using CSV, VCF, XLS or XLSX files. Once you add a contact, you can build a complete profile that includes the contact's name, physical address and phone number. You can create custom fields for any other information you deem important.

We were extremely impressed with the customer service iContact provided us. To test what you can expect from the support team, we called the company multiple times, posing as a new business owner interested in the service.

Each of our calls were answered by friendly and helpful representatives who gave us thorough explanations of the plans and how they differ from each other. We liked that they didn't try to rush us off the phone and took as much time as needed to answer all of our questions.

We were just as happy with the live chat support. Each time we asked a question, it was answered in just a few seconds and in just as much detail as we received over the phone. Between the phone and live chat tool, iContact provided some of the best customer service we received during our research of email marketing services.

In addition, you can access more than 40 video tutorials when logged in to the system that teach you everything from creating and sending messages to adding and editing contacts.

The biggest drawback to iContact is the price. It's one of the more expensive services we considered, especially if you are looking to take advantage of the expert advice. However, getting to work one-on-one with an email marketing expert who understands your goals and objectives can be valuable to your business. If iContact isn't in your price range, we would encourage you to consider Benchmark, our pick as the best email marketing service for small businesses, or GetResponse, our pick as the best low-cost email marketing service.

Additionally, iContact uses two different platforms for its Email Marketing and Marketing Automation solutions. That means if you switch from one service to the other, you have to readjust to how the platform works.

Want to learn more about email marketing services? Here's a breakdown of our complete coverage:

Additional reporting by Chad Brooks.

Editor's note: Considering an email marketing service for your business? If you're looking for information to help you choose the one that's right for you, use the questionnaire below to get quotes and information from a variety of vendors for free:

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Saige Driver

Saige received her Bachelor’s degree in Journalism and Telecommunications from Ball State University. She is the social media strategist for Business.com and Business News Daily. She also writes reviews and articles about social media. She loves reading and her beagle mix, Millie. Reach her by email, or follow her on Twitter.