iContact, the large email marketing solution provider, released a free edition on April 12th, 2011. This isn't an unexpected move, considering that some of their large competitors started doing that, what's however surprising is the fact that you are allowed to add up to 500 subscribers and email them for free without paying anything. To me that seems a lot of contacts, and this is obviously targeted for active people/small businesses. To use the free iContact edition you just need to visit their website and sign-up (no credit card information necessary).
Free is good because it gives you the option to test their email marketing services for a longer period of time. But how does this compare with what competition has to offer in terms of email marketing options? Let's see (comparing just the most well-known reliable email marketing services):
- Constant Contact offers only a free trial, for 60 days (credit card is required). After the trial expires you have to pay $15 for 500 subscribers.
- GetResponse doesn't offer a free edition or a trial, you have to pay up to $9 for 250 subscribers.
- VerticalResponse offers a free trial too, but only for 100 emails (no credit card required).
- Aweber offers a sort of a trial, as they let you test it for one month by paying just $1 (after that $19/month).
- The only other iContact competitor that offers a free edition is MailChimp, which lets you add up to 2000 subscribers but you are limited on how many emails you can send per month ($10 per month for 500 subscribers after that)
So the free iContact edition is indeed a catch, personally MailChimp seemed to be way too complicated to use (and I didn't like the fact that when you import email addresses you won't be able to import general email addresses such as info@ or sales@ without verifying those). Before they released the free edition 500 subscribers was $10 per month, still a bargain but free is even better. The free edition includes also a lot of the features that the paid edition includes, to be more specific it will allow you:
- Create, send and track up to 500 subscribers
- You can choose from 24 different HTML email designs
- Social media marketing tools by integrating with your Facebook and Twitter accounts
- Free icontact for iPhone and Android mobile apps
- Built-in survey tool.
This will be a magnet for individuals, small organizations and start-up companies that need email marketing with social media integration. And iContact's approach to this is brilliant, they gain more by helping you grow, as once your contact list approaches the 500 contact limit you'll want to upgrade to the paid edition. Right now the user-base is around 700,000 but expect to see a rapid increase once the free iContact edition news starts spreading. To benefit from this simply visit their website and sign-up here: iContact Free.