I did a cost analysis for a client last year when they were shopping around for newsletter hosting sites. They had heard about Constant Contact and currently had Net Atlantic and asked me to do a comparison. Here are the results of that analysis:
Pricing (the thing everyone wants to know first) –
1. An option to build your own templates and include surveys with a “survey wizard” are already included in the price for Net Atlantic, BUT there is an additional charge for the survery option with Constant Contact.
2. With Constant Contact, pricing runs cheaper at smaller numbers of subscribers, but becomes more expensive the higher the subscriber base. For example, at 1,000 subscribers, Constant Contact is less expensive than Net Atlantic’s. This does not even include the additional price for surveys and use of more than 5 images at a time.
3. Hidden Cost – also with Constant Contact, “Image Management & Hosting” has a hidden cost. The customer is limited to 5 images at a time per their “standard image hosting and management” package. Adding more is an extra $5/month and is limited to 25mb of storage. This fee was not immediately apparent. I stumbled across it in my indepth research of the website. (http://www.constantcontact.com/email-marketing/email-campaign-creation/manage-images.jsp)
Ease of Use –
1. Constant Contact appears to be a program that anyone can use – both online newsletter editors looking for an easy, quick alternative, and professionals that do not know/work with html code.
Template Limitations –
One drawback to Constant Contact is that as an easier, quicker alternative, it also means that the choices are more limited. There is also a question of whether the images in their templates can be left off the design completely. This was not answered on the website.
Free Trial Limitation –
In Constant Contact, the “free trial” is limited to accounts with lists under 100 contacts. They say that if “your list exceeds 100 contacts at any time during your trial, you will be prompted to upgrade to a paying account”. (http://www.constantcontact.com/pricing/index.jsp)
Constant Contact’s Pros –
1. Preview and tests of an email campaign can be conducted.
2. Campaigns can be scheduled.
3. Selection of one contact, many or multiple contacts or contact lists.
4. Names can be imported from a spreadsheet or Microsoft Outlook.
**All of these pro points already exist with Net Atlantic’s “Discussion Group Email List Hosting” account level.**
Constant Contact’s Cons –
1. The “free trial” is limited to accounts with lists under 100 contacts (see under “Free Trial” topic).
A further analysis of the breakdown of Constant Contact’s available templates:
“SpeakUp email marketing product” –
1. Email Newsletters (http://www.constantcontact.com/email-marketing/html-email-templates/email-newsletter.jsp) –
As in the case with the “Business Newsletter” template (http://www.constantcontact.com/email-marketing/html-email-templates/email-newsletter.jsp), there are choices for two top images which they call the “Left Column Image Block” and the “Right Column Image Block” but it does not say if these images can be left out or not. Would we be stuck with them even if we didn’t like them?
2. Email Promotions (http://www.constantcontact.com/email-marketing/html-email-templates/email-promotion.jsp) – is geared more towards retail with their ability to insert Paypal Buy Now links, promotions and coupons. All of these items can be inserted into enewsletters created with Net Atlantic, but not as quickly and the code needs to be written for them first. Once an item is created for either your Net Atlantic account or for Constant Contact, however, it remains available to use in the future.
3. Email Cards (http://www.constantcontact.com/email-marketing/html-email-templates/email-card.jsp) – has an ability to add any background image in the users library. Coupons can also be used.
4. Email Event Invitations (http://www.constantcontact.com/email-marketing/html-email-templates/email-event-invitation.jsp). Again the question arises if the images can be left off and this question could really be applied to any of the above four products.
5. Association and Nonprofit Templates – (http://www.constantcontact.com/email-marketing/html-email-templates/association.jsp) – another choice for templates not in their menu. I found it in the non-guided tour of their products. If, during the 60-day trial period, one can find a good or perfect combination of graphics, color schemes and choices for their needs from what is available, then Constant Contact will serve the purpose nicely. If, however, Constant Contact cannot meet a new or unexpected future need by their clients, if they have not upgraded their system to allow more choices and/or the uploading of the users preferences, then they will not do.
A helpful tip – you learn a lot by reading some of the comments in a company’s forums and message boards.
Let us know if you agree/disagree or have any additional comments or experiences with either company, especially with Net Atlantic.
Thank you for reading!