iContact has been one of the large players in email marketing services for many years, and has the potential to become the absolute leader in email marketing now that it falls under the Vocus umbrella since a couple of months. Vocus is a large player in small business marketing tools and PR through its wide range of other services and products. Now that iContact is a part of the Vocus group, the company is working hard on making its Vocus Marketing Suite the perfect solution for small- and medium-sized businesses.
We had the honor to interview John Hayes, a marketing expert who works for Vocus as a marketing strategist and author. Small business owners will find that John shares some great tips for improving their marketing strategy. He also has some great views on how mobile, email and social can all come together to help you market your products through content marketing.
Can you introduce yourself to our readers?
I joined the Vocus team as marketing strategist and contributing author when Vocus acquired iContact this past winter. Vocus grew up in the PR software, but late last year introduced the Vocus Marketing Suite for small- and medium-sized businesses (SMB). The Marketing Suite brings together several different products focused on separate marketing functions, such as publicity, search, content and social media into one integrated platform. iContact will add another important feature in email marketing.
Why should marketers opt for software that combines both email marketing and social media marketing?
Email and social media are increasingly being seen as highly complementary channels, with many marketers combining their strengths to drive increase levels of engagement, generate leads and ultimately sell their products or services. By managing both channels via the same software, marketers are better able to accurately monitor their successes and deliver a more accurate understanding of Key Performance Indicators such as open and click-through rates, campaign reach and Return on Investment (ROI). Think of it this way: every business has prospects that don’t know them, prospects that are getting to know them, and customers that know them. We are enabling a single view to engage customers at each point along this sales cycle and allow the marketer to make more informed decisions and optimize future campaigns.
Which types of businesses does iContact serve best?
iContact is best known for its work in the SMB space. However, we also work with a significant number of enterprise-type clients, as well as a wide range of charity and not-for-profit organizations, which all benefit from our low cost, easy-to-use email marketing software. One of the many great things about working in the email marketing industry is the fact that almost any business or organization, regardless of industry, size or location can benefit from our software.
What are the advantages for iContact of being part of Vocus?
iContact joins an amazing family of technology companies operating under the Vocus umbrella, including PRWeb and Help A Reporter Out (HARO) – and Vocus has launched an entirely new product specifically tailored to SMBs. Vocus views email marketing as an essential component of its complete marketing vision – for every dollar invested in email, marketers get about $40 in return – and will shortly be integrating iContact’s email product into the Vocus Marketing Suite. Vocus is also committed to continue building iContact as a standalone product meaning that iContact clients old and new will continue to benefit from our focus on email and social media marketing but with the additional benefits and resources that come from being part of a larger organization.
What makes the customer support provided by your company so great?
People buy from people they like and we are definitely people-people (not just a technology company). In the online world it is too easy to hide behind technology and jargon and this doesn’t offer customers a great experience. Because of this we are fanatical about the levels of support we offer. We believe our award winning customer support and a cohesive, integrated approach to marketing, is what separates Vocus and iContact from our competitors.
Read what other marketers and small business owners are saying about iContact in their customer reviews.
Video: Customers about Vocus Marketing Suite
How will iContact adapt itself to the rising mobile trend?
Mobile represents a huge opportunity for email marketers, essentially enabling them to engage with their subscribers at home, in the workplace and at play. This means, anytime is a good time to send email. iContact’s email marketing software is already highly suited to the mobile environment and we are committed to educating our clients about design and campaign best practices for targeting subscribers via their mobile devices. iContact also offers mobile solutions via its iPhone and Android apps allowing our clients to manage and monitor their email campaigns from their mobile devices.
Will there be more PR features coming to iContact?
iContact clients who consider upgrading to the wider Vocus Marketing Suite will have access to Vocus’ complete range of capabilities, which includes PR, social media and search engine optimization (SEO).
For clients who are not yet ready to upgrade can of course take advantage of some of the individual components of the suite such as new release distribution via PRWeb, journalist and media alerts from HARO and our range of Facebook apps from North Social. It’s worth noting the basic level of HARO is free and anyone can sign up at HelpAReporter.com.
Do you have any quick PR tips that you can give to small business owners?
PR works best when it is rolled out as part of a much wider content marketing strategy which includes regular blogging, email and social media activity. Regular news releases will have a much bigger impact than occasional activity. If you need any inspiration for you news release content check out BloggingPRWeb.
Why should we use iContact for our email and social media marketing, and not a different service?
It all comes down to the service we offer. There are many firms competing with iContact in the SMB email marketing space who provide a very similar service in terms of technology and price. But they cannot compete with us on service and support.
What will be the next big feature for iContact?
The iContact product is constantly evolving in terms of technology and service. Our main priority at the moment is integrating iContact’s technology into the Vocus ecosystem.
How is working at iContact/Vocus like?
The transition from iContact to Vocus was actually very easy, because both companies are completely focused on creating great working environments for their employees. Our offices around the world have world-class facilities (recreation rooms, sports facilities, etc.) and our employees are encouraged to find a healthy work/life balance. We also have a very open company culture where information is shared freely and ideas, discussion and debate are encouraged throughout the organization. We are always looking to hear from ambitious and smart individuals who are interested in joining the Vocus team. For more information check out WhyWorkatVocus.com.
Our thanks go to John Hayes and the rest of the iContact team for wanting to do this interview with us.