Constant Contact: Review and Expert Opinion
“You may know Constant Contact better for being an email marketing service. I know I did, so I was intrigued by their claims of building the ‘best website building and ecommerce platform’ in the industry. I wouldn’t go that far, but there are some great features included. One of my favourite things about this website builder is that it is perfectly possible to use the free version.”
August 22, 2020
Constant Contact’s website builder is very much based on the fact that we don’t all have a lot of time these days, and so we need something that is easy and does most of the work for us! The service also makes use of a royalty-free image gallery from Unsplash, meaning you don’t even need to take your own photos, unless you want to. Is it worth the hype? I’ll reveal everything you need to know…
Some quick Constant Contact facts and figures
- Constant Contact was founded in 1995
- Its headquarters are in Waltham, Massachusetts
- The company was sold to Endurance International for $1.1 billion in 2015
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Is Constant Contact Really Easy to Use?
The short answer to this question is; yes! I was really impressed with the set-up process with Constant Contact. I think it is perfectly suited to anyone who does not have a lot of experience. I’ll show you all of the steps involved in the process below…
First of all, I was prompted to input the sort of site I wanted to create. Simply type in the sort of field you’re involved in, and your category should pop-up underneath. You may need to play around with different words in order to find your niche if it is a bit unusual.
After this, it was time to pick a cover image. It’s worth noting here that there were only four stock images to select from. Of course, you will have different stock images depending on the industry category you first selected. You can upload your own image if you would prefer, though.
Once you have uploaded your logo, you will have six different font pairs to select from. (Has anyone else noticed that we’ve gone from 60% done in the previous screenshot, to now being halfway there? – Clearly, someone at Constant Contact doesn’t know their percentages!)
Next, you will be able to pick a dark or light theme, as well as your choice of colour combination. I found myself toggling between the ‘previous’ and ‘continue’ tab quite a lot, previewing different fonts and colour combinations.
The final design decision in the set-up process is the sort of navigation you want. As you can see, there are five options available.
Finally, you will be asked to input your contact information so that this can be added to your website. It’s worth noting that you can actually just leave this blank for now if you want. That’s what I did!
Once I had done this, I was prompted to create a free account with Constant Contact. You simply need to input your email and create a password to do this. After this, I was taken directly to the website editor.
As you can see, you can go on a tour around the site editor or you can skip the tour and explore the website builder yourself. Either way, I think you’d agree that the set-up process is pretty easy, right?
Customising your website
If you want to change the assigned design, you can do so. You are able to select from approximately three to five different formats for every ‘block’ on your page. You can also get rid of any elements you aren’t feeling, such as a particular subtitle or button.
If you’re looking for complete design customisation, Constant Contact isn’t really going to be for you. In my opinion, you get some design freedom, but you’re never going to stray away from the website that is initially set-up for you too much. I’d advise Wix for more customisation options or you could even use WordPress and download various plug-ins.
That’s why I am pretty stern in my belief that this is a beginner’s site creator; it’s not for those seeking something advanced. That’s also why I personally don’t use Constant Contact to power my websites, but I would certainly encourage those with little experience to consider using it.
When I went to preview my website on Constant Contact, I was pleased to see that I had the option of not only viewing it as a desktop version but a table and mobile one as well. I think this is vital in terms of ensuring you offer the best user experience for everyone.
From my own experience, I think the different designs on Constant Contact are generally mobile responsive. I did have a few little glitches whereby some of my content ended up looking a little bit bunched up. That’s why I highly recommend you preview your website thoroughly across all devices.
Constant Contact Templates
You don’t have templates per-say with Constant Contact, as you do with say, Wix. Instead, you have the AI design process that I walked you through earlier, whereby you have different colour options and layouts to select from, as well as some font combinations.
Quick Tip!You can change the colours and theme of your website after set-up. Simply click on ‘edit site’ from your dashboard, and then the theme tap at the top.
Personally, this is one of the areas whereby Constant Contact really lacks for me. There’s not much in terms of design flexibility. While there are a number of colours to select from, you may not find something that perfectly aligns with what you had in mind for your brand. If you’re looking for great design flexibility, I would recommend checking out my Wix or Squarespace review.
Firstly, it’s important to make you aware that there is no app store and you’re not going to be able to make the most of third-party plug-ins. This isn’t always a bad thing, though. Squarespace is another website builder that has opted to go down this route.
I found that there are some great things about Constant Contact’s range of features, yet there are also a few drawbacks as well. Given the low price point of Constant Contact, you get a good selection of features. At the same time, they’re not as advanced as I was looking for. Again, that’s why I really do view this as a website builder that is perfectly tuned for beginners.
Here are some of the standout features from the website builder:
- There is an AI-powered logo maker tool, which can help you to get started with business branding.
- The analytics dashboard provides period-based and real-time metrics, which outline user engagement with your site.
- The e-commerce platform comes with plenty of tools for selling online – more on this below!
- You will get a free domain for a year.
I’ll give you my view on some of the different features Constant Contact offers…
Let’s start with one area of the feature list that did impress me, and this is the e-commerce features that come with Constant Contact. What really impressed me is the fact that you can sell items on the free plan. This is something you don’t see often! However, as I will soon explain, you are very restricted in terms of how many items you can sell.
There are a number of e-commerce elements that work well, including tracking, integrated shipping, and tax calculations. I also really enjoyed the analytics dashboard, which is easy to use and gives you a great snapshot of your yearly performance across a number of areas.
In terms of SEO, I do feel like Constant Contact has a little bit of catching up to do. Take Wix as a prime example. They have implemented an SEO Wiz to help you with this area of your site, and it is something I would like to see Constant Contact do.
You can still do everything you need to in order to get your website ranked on Google and other search engines, don’t get me wrong. It’s purely that you’re going to be left to your own devices, so do keep that in mind. For some, this won’t be an issue. For others, they would prefer having their hand held when it comes to optimising their site.
If you are looking to blog consistently, you may find Constant Contact a little bit frustrating. This is because the blog is only available in an RSS feed format. This means that the most recent item is always going to be displayed first. You cannot post in categories, for instance. Also, user comments are not enabled.
Quick Tip!Use the Blog Post Page as your Master Key. Visitors can’t see your changes but they determine the look of your blog in the end. Changes made here only impact the look of your posts.
I would advise taking a lot at my guide on starting a blog for more information on the best blogging platforms and how to set your blog up effectively.
It’s worth noting that the blogging part of Constant Contact is one of the newer areas of the website builder, so I do expect there to be improvements to come. But right now, it is certainly lacking in this area and would not be my recommendation if blogging is to play a large part in what you aim to do with your website and online presence.
Security of Constant Contact Websites
I always like to find out what sort of precautions website builders take with regard to security, as this can be a real dealbreaker for me. I was pleased to see that the security provided by Constant Contact is very much multi-layered, with a lot of approaches taken to ensure data is managed securely.
This includes encrypting all subscriber, credit card, and account information via Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) connections over HTTPS, which is the industry standard. They also use multiple and distinct firewalls to protect the hosting environment from the public Internet. They have strict measures in place for physical, network, host, and software security, and this definitely is a massive tick in my book! You can never afford to compromise on security when choosing a site builder.
Constant Contact Support
In terms of support, my experience with Constant Contact was a good one. The knowledge center is pretty comprehensive, and there is also support available via email, phone, and live chat. Do note that live chat is not available in some countries, including the US, but it is available in the UK. All of these support features are available on the free plan aside from phone support, yet paid users do get prioritised, so you can expect a quicker response time on a paid plan. I’ll give you my thoughts on the different support options that are available…
Live chat is certainly a great feature of Constant Contact if it is currently available in your location. I was connected to a live agent right away, and they were able to help me with my query. It was an easy and efficient process; no complaints! It does appear that you’re only going to be connected to a live agent on weekdays, though, so do keep this in mind.
Email and phone
Emails are responded to within a 24-48 hour period, which can be a little bit on the lengthy side if you don’t have access to live chat and there is a problem with your website. Of course, you can call Constant Contact during office hours for assistance. Support is available from 8 am until 11 pm ET for the website builder. There is an international number (0808-101-4665), as well as a Canada and US number (866-816-5602).
Another way to get help is through the knowledge center. This contains a number of different guides that can help you to use the website builder properly. I found the articles to be useful, containing videos and annotated screenshots. Yet, the formatting could have been a bit more user-friendly, as some of the images are quite difficult to see. However, on the whole, the guides were very helpful!
One thing that I would have liked to see from the knowledge base is a forum. It would definitely be helpful to connect with others in the Constant Contact community so that you can ask queries and share your tips and advice.
Is Constant Contact Right For You?
I think Constant Contact is suitable if you’re looking for a good entry-level website builder. If you want to try out a site builder for the first time or you’re only looking to create a small site and you don’t need many features, I would recommend this platform. The free version is certainly more comprehensive than what is offered by other site builders.
However, if you’re looking for a lot of design control and freedom, I would recommend checking out Wix or Squarespace. Also, if you’re looking for something that is scalable and is going to be able to take your business to high heights, I think you may find that Constant Contact ends up holding you back in the future. In my opinion, this is a platform for beginners and small-scale projects.
Constant Contact Pricing
Constant Contact has a very simple pricing structure: a free service and a premium service. You may be a bit confused, as a lot of the information on the Internet references a Starter Plan and a Business Plus Plan. This has been scrapped in favour of something more simple, so you’ve either got a Free Plan or a Website Builder Plan to choose from, there is no in-between!
I believe the Business Plus Plan used to be £14 per month and the Starter Plan was £6, so they’ve hit us with a Website Building Plan for £10 a month. Really, it’s much better value for you, as you’re getting everything you would have gotten in the Business Plus Plan for less!
As I have mentioned, their free service is one of the best options out there. You will still get access to all support options, albeit there are longer wait times, and you will get to access a lot of the features on the website builder. However, there are going to be circumstances whereby your only option is to go for the paid version if you want to make the most of the platform and end up with the right website for your needs.
Plus, just because the free plan is good, doesn’t mean there aren’t limitations. There are some major ones, as is the case with anything that comes for free.
Free plan limitations
The five main limitations that I found with the free version compared with the free one are as follows…
- You aren’t going to have access to phone support.
- You can only sell three products.
- You won’t get any paid ad credit.
- Your site is not going to be ad-free. Say hello to Constant Contact branding, including a signup CTA at the foot of your site and the Constant Contact blue banner, which is not very subtle!
- You cannot connect a custom domain name. You have to use the one that has been auto-generated for you, including ‘constantcontact.com’ at the end.
The paid plan
Quick Tip!While Constant Contact doesn’t shout about it, they offer pre-pay discounts. You can get 15% off for pre-paying for 12 months or 10% off for 6 months.
So, let’s take a look at the paid plan and what you’re going to get for your monthly fee…
- You will enjoy unlimited storage on all of the files you upload to your website.
- You get complete access to the reporting and analytics tool.
- You can connect your own custom domain, rather than using the Constant Contact subdomain.
- You can add a blog to your website.
- You can sell as many products as you want.
- The transaction fee for your e-store is 1.5% of your revenue.
- Advanced shipping management.
- Ability to apply discounts both at the product and order level.
- LogoMaker is included.
- You can add Google Ads and Instagram and Facebook Ads & Insights.
- Contact list important and management.
These are some of the main extras you are going to get with the paid plan. While you can get a website up and running with the free plan, you are probably going to want to use the paid plan in order to take your site to the next level if you have decided that Constant Contact is the right website builder for you.
Quick Tip!Choose a paid account if you’re going to be selling. Charges per transaction double for free accounts, meaning they can end up costing you more overall.
You will also get a 30-day money-back guarantee, so you can try out the paid version to check that it is right for you!
Constant Contact is owned by Endurance International Group. Endurance International Group is an IT services business that specializes in web hosting. It was founded in 1997 and was formerly known as BizLand.
Yes; it is possible to create your website with Constant Contact and then simply add a store at a later date. You can also do it in reverse order, i.e. build a store and then build the rest of your website at a later date.
Unfortunately not, but you do get some email marketing options, for example, you can store transactional emails and send automated welcome emails to new subscribers. So, you may find that the email services included with the website building plan are more than enough for you. However, if you want to use their other email campaign services, you will need to upgrade to either the Email or Email Plus plan to do this.
Yes; no matter what type of plan you have, you can build a store for free and you can make it live. If you do opt for a free plan and you intend to sell products via Constant Contact, please note that you are going to be charged 3% on every transaction, rather than 1.5%. In essence, depending on your sales, this could mean that you end up spending more on the free version overtime!
Constant Contact’s email marketing application enables companies to export consumer data from email clients, like Microsoft Outlook and Gmail, as well as spreadsheets. You can personalize email sign-up forms and embedded on Facebook or web pages so that new contacts can be captured and email lists created.
I hope this has helped you to get a good understanding of what Constant Contact has to offer. While the site maker certainly ticks to the boxes of being easy to use, there are a few drawbacks in terms of limited features and a lack of themes. For more, it’s a platform for beginners, so if you’re just starting out, give it a try and see if it is something you feel comfortable with and enjoy using.
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