Founded in 2003 by Ryan Allis and Aaron Houghton, iContact was built from the ground up in an era where email marketing was still scarce. Today, iContact is worth over $169 million and has hundreds of thousands of customers all over the world. Their Facebook email signup alone gets more than 50,000 active users per month.
One thing that sets iContact apart from the rest of the market is their stance on manual submission. Aweber, the other email marketing giant, does not allow email marketers to add subscribers manually in large amounts. iContact allows this, provided your customers are expecting your emails.
In other words, if you run workshops, do business card drop-off raffles or get email addresses from offline sources, iContact will be a better choice for you than Aweber.
Here are some of the unique features of iContact.
#1 – Hosted Images
iContact allows you to host all the images you plan on sending in your emails, completely free of charge. Just upload them to iContact’s servers, then insert them into your emails as you’re sending them.
All the images uploaded have to be under 200 KB and the storage capacity is 5,000 KB, meaning you can have at least 25 images stored at any given time.
#2 – Add Contacts Manually
As mentioned before, one of iContact’s unique features is its willingness to let you add as many contacts as you want from offline sources.
Allowing people to add contacts themselves is a huge risk for autoresponders. It makes it very easy for spammers to use their system to send people email. Maintaining a high deliverability rate with an open policy like this requires a lot of work.
Other autoresponders, most notably Aweber, skip this process entirely by not allowing large lists to be uploaded. However, iContact allows you to do this – While still maintaining a strong deliverability rate.
#3 – Export Contacts
iContact also allows you to export all your contacts with the click of a button. If you want to move your contacts lists to a different autoresponder service, or want to port them over to a different CMS management system, it’s very easy to do so with iContact.
One of the really unique things about iContact is their surveys. Instead of having to use an outside service to handle your surveys, you can do it all inside of iContact.
You can use this feature to research what new features your customers want, to research what they’d be willing to pay, to see what they like or don’t like about your current business, etc.
Surveys can either be private or public. Public surveys are great with you want to make content out of the data, while private surveys are good just to help you make internal decisions.
#5: Social Signups
Have you seen those Facebook pages that have an email signup box on them? Adding email signup is a powerful way to turn your Facebook followers into loyal readers.
Facebook isn’t the best way to stay in constant touch with people. People may not check Facebook very often and Facebook won’t display your status update on their news feed every time you post.
On the other hand, email allows you to get your message in front of your audience every time.
Using this feature is much simpler than most people think it is. All you need to do is enable the Facebook feature, choose which page(s) you want to give iContact access to then generate the code.
Once the code is generated, just copy and paste it onto your Facebook page.
#6: List Segmentation
iContact allows you to separate your lists into different categories of people. This makes it easy for you to custom-target a variety of messages for just a specific subsection of your audience.
Instead of just blasting out emails, this will allow you to get higher response rates from the right people. You also won’t alienate the rest of your list by sending them emails that they don’t care about.
There are a number of different criteria you can use to segment your list. The most common type of segmentation is based on data that users entered when they first registered for your email list.
#7 – Advanced Search
Looking for a specific person or group of persons? iContact makes it easy to find them with their advanced search system.
Let’s say you run a speaking business. You remember that 6 months ago, someone named Susie who ran a hair salon came to your workshop. You want to follow up with her about something, but don’t remember her email address.
All you need to do is go into iContact and plug in the business name. The system will find her and give you all her contact information.
What makes this search function so powerful is that you can search based on any criteria.
#8 – RSS In-Feed
If you have a blog and want to regularly take posts from your blog and send them out to your email list, then an RSS in-feed is the perfect tool for you.
The RSS in-feed takes an RSS feed and transplants all of the content into your email followup. No more pesky copying and pasting and trying to figure out how to make sure formatting doesn’t come out wrong in email. iContact does it all for you.
These are some of iContact’s unique features. All in all, if you’re looking for a high deliverability email autoresponder service that allows you to manually add email addresses, iContact is a great choice. They certainly have all the bells and whistles.