- Written by Barrie North
Email marketing: Love it or hate it, it's the way the web works. No matter what kind of website you have, building a list and communicating to a constituency is a key part of any successful website.
In 2006 I THOROUGHLY tested and reviewed many email systems, and my conclusion was that when your email lists start to get above a thousand subscribers, a whole set of problems arise that basic newsletter programs simply can't solve. You need the backing of a 3rd party company ensuring your email deliverability.
So then I investigated 3rd party hosted providers: Detailed Reviews of Email Marketing Solutions
Then I realized there was a problem. None of these solutions integrated into Joomla. A critical factor was missing: when users register on a Joomla site, importing them into an email list can be difficult and time consuming. There needed to be an automated process.
So we created one --- J!Contact
Joomlashack's iContact Story
In the summer of 2006 our email lists had grown so large that we needed a very robust hosted solution capable of better navigating the Bermuda Triangle of CANSPAM compliance. When I decided to review all the various newsletter options for Joomla, and the best of breed in hosted solutions as well. iContact rose like cream to the top then, and it's gotten even better.
Since implementing iContact in the fall of 2006, Joomlashack has seen tremendous growth in our email marketing opportunities. Our complaints are down, our delivery rate is up, and our unsubscribe rate is in the cellar. Our subscribers control their addresses, and we know what they want to read because we can see what they click on. Our newsletters are better, our sales are up, and our lists grow and grow.
As we've mastered the basics, we've also explored iContact's advanced features. We've integrated our various data systems using their stellar API. Our customers receive helpful time-released autoresponders that anticipate their problems. We even built our first-ever Joomla Survey on iContact's robust form system, and now we can communicate directly with our respondents about their needs through some highly refined list segmentation and custom fields. Their site boasts a that "iContact is More than Email Marketing. It Represents the Future of Communication." For Joomlashack, the future is now.
But is cool software why we recommend iContact? Not entirely. It's their super customer service, too. Operators with gentle southern charm standing by throughout the day, who known who we are when we call. Easy tutorials, videos, and knowledgebase. Rapid email support. Great software plus great support: sounds like a good company to use.
But here's an even better example of why iContact rocks. On Wednesday of this past week (spring 2007), one of Joomlashack's loyal customers let us know that a link in the iContact website was dead. Not just any link, but the link that brought "Forward to a Friend" recipients to iContact's site. Pretty important page to have live and lovely, and for all we knew, a link dead to the millions of customers a day that receive a message via iContact.
Because we're partners and admirers, we immediatelty forwarded the email to a few iContact folks, and for good measure cc'ed the CEO/Founder of iContact, Ryan Allis, whom none of us know or have ever talked to. Surely he thought, Joomlawhat?
But guess who wrote back first? Ryan. In less than 2 minutes.
Now, this wouldn't be surprising from a little company like Joomlashack, where all our guys do it all, from forum support to product design. But iContact is a multi-million dollar operation with 50+ employees and over 10,000 customers, of which we are merely one. Yet the CEO was reading email and responding to customers, in our case, instantly.
We wouldn't be surprised if, were we to have a dead link on the Shack, he'd pick up the phone himself and let us know. It's that kind of company.
Use iContact for your email marketing. Actually, use iContact for More than Email Marketing. Use iContact to build your web presence, communicate with your customers, do sophisticated research on their needs, and build your business, organization, or campaign.
Okay, but what's J!Contact?
So we think that iContact is great, the best there is. But what about that difficult integration question?
That's right, we think this solution is so good, we wanted to help people get it running on their Joomla websites. So we spent thousands developing a component that will automatically insert your Joomla (or Community Builder or SMF) registrants into your iContact lists!