iContact is joining the likes of MailChimp and Amazon.com in offering a free self-service email marketing program to SMBs. Such organizations with email lists of less than 500 addresses can utilize "iContact Free Edition."
Jeff Revoy, chief of product, marketing, and strategy for iContact, told ClickZ that the business goal for his company was to start relationships early with emerging SMBs. As their marketing functions escalate, he explained, they may subscribe to one of his company's services. While iContact's starter plan costs $10 monthly and - like the free version - limits users to 500 email addresses, it offers 500 "premium" design templates and phone support. The basic plan (up to 2,500 email addresses) runs at $29 monthly, and the "Pro" plan (up to 10,000 addresses) is priced at $74 per month. The Raleigh, NC-based firm also offers "iContactPlus" for more than 100,000 addresses at a negotiated rate.
Revoy said, "It may be a local softball league or a church group. These are people who could be SMBs today or could be in the future…And as their business needs grow, they may go up to a higher-level version. The other benefit for us is to have a lot of users on our system. We'll learn a lot more about our product when more people are using it. It's a model that a lot of companies have used by having a free version available."
Other elements in the free services package include:
Meanwhile, MailChimp's "Forever Plan" offers up to 2,000 email addresses and 12,000 messages sent per month for free. Amazon's "Simple Email Service" lets marketers send up to 2,000 email messages a day via web services calls (definition). Otherwise, email messages are charged at $0.10 per thousand.
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Christopher Heine was a senior writer for ClickZ through June 2012. He covered social media, sports/entertainment marketing, retail, and more. Heine's work has also appeared via Mashable, Brandweek, DM News, MarketingSherpa, and other tech- and ad-centric publications. USA Today, Bloomberg Radio, and The Los Angeles Times have cited him as an expert journalist.
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