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If you’re looking for an all-in one website builder at an affordable price tag, Constant Contact has a lot to make you sit up and listen. But limited customization options and comparatively underwhelming features mean that there’s still quite a long way to go before it can really compete with the best website builders of 2021.
Has Constant Contact Got What It Takes?
To compare the best website builders on ease of use, templates, customer service, and value for money, we tried to build the same site on each platform. Check out the results here.
It may be better known as an email marketing service, but in recent years Constant Contact has been branching out. It now claims to have created “the industry’s best website building and e-commerce platform.” That’s a bold claim, and – in a market crowded with stiff competition from top dogs like Wix and Squarespace – it has a whiff of exaggeration about it.
So, naturally, my interest was piqued, and I just had to put Constant Contact to the test, looking at everything from features and ease of use to templates and customer support.
Constant Contact’s definitely got it down on the simplicity and ease of use front – offering a beginner-friendly, AI-powered editor and a neat, inexpensive, one-size-fits-all pricing plan (plus a generous free trial). It’s also available in 11 languages.
However, you also get what you pay for. Constant Contact offers a lot of features, but not a huge amount of power.
Read my Constant Contact website builder review to learn about all the pros and cons, help you decide if it’s the right choice for you.
The most important thing you need to know about Constant Contact – and we’ll come back to this in more detail in just a second – is that it’s very heavy on the AI (Artificial Intelligence). This means you gain a lot of simplicity, but you lose a lot of control.
Let’s take templates as an example: There are no Constant Contact website builder templates, per se. Instead, Constant Contact works by auto-generating your website layout using AI. It starts by asking you to type in what your website is about. You can choose one of the suggestions it pulls up (what other builders call “categories”) or just stick to your guns (hey, you’re unique, right?). Either way, the AI editor will then start putting together a website layout based on your answers.
You’re asked to give your site a title, add a main image and a logo (if you have one), pick a font, a color scheme, and then your preferred navigation style. I wouldn’t class this as choosing a template so much as building your own from scratch.
I’m in two minds about this process. On the one hand, it is super, super easy. Rather than presenting you with an overwhelming selection of hundreds upon hundreds of templates, Constant Contact literally takes you by the hand and helps you make your own. If you’re looking for pure ease, you’ve got it. The whole process took about three minutes, tops.
But at the same time, I felt like a lot of creative control was being taken away from me. Constant Contact automatically added a services page, and a testimonials section, without me saying that I wanted either (I actually wanted a store – but the setup wizard never asked me about that). I ended up with a website skeleton that didn’t really look like what I had in mind. I would have preferred to be able to browse through a few different options and choose my favorite.
This theme of limited creative control continues when you finally get taken to the Constant Contact editor to make tweaks to your site. Since your website is already basically created, all you need to do is swap out the default content for your own. You can add, reorder or delete elements (“blocks”) as you need, and customize by changing the sizes and colors of fonts, buttons, backgrounds, and so on.
But your options are limited. For instance, your color choices are restricted to the palette you chose at the beginning. So I only had the choice of two different shades of green. This might be good if you’re not hugely design-savvy, but complete creative control this most certainly is not. For that, you’d need to look to Wix.
I wouldn’t necessarily have minded this restrictiveness, if Constant Contact’s designs were absolutely knock-out, but, ultimately, I wasn’t particularly impressed. The color palettes were not visually appealing and my own website ended up looking a bit, well, boring.
Constant Contact websites are not automatically mobile-friendly, per se, but the editor does give you both desktop and mobile views to make sure your site is formatted correctly for different screen sizes. It works okay generally, but I did encounter a few issues with text being bunched up at the top of the screen – more on that later.Explore Constant Contact Website Builder Templates
Jack of All Trades, But Master of None
In keeping with its one-size-fits-all approach, Constant Contact offers all of the basic features any small business owner might need, including:
Neat AI-powered editor
Content delivery network (CDN) for fast page loading
Easy-to-understand website reporting and analytics
Free SSL certificate
Visual effects, like parallax scrolling
Social media integrations
On the surface, this seems like a lot. But if you dig a little deeper, it becomes clear that many Constant Contact features aren’t as robust as those offered by the competition. But then again, considering the price tag, this isn’t exactly surprising. You get what you pay for, as they say.
One of my favorite Constant Contact features is the direct Unsplash integration, which gives you access to more than 550,000 professional-quality, royalty-free photographs. This is especially useful if you’re a website newbie or a small business without the equipment or photography skills needed to produce your own killer images. If you do want to upload your own images, Constant Contact offers you unlimited storage, so you don’t ever have to worry about running out of space.
On the downside, however, there aren’t any integrated image editing tools – which plenty of other website builders offer. You can edit the image’s zoom, shape, and effects, but that’s about it.
Reporting & Analytics
Keeping with Constant Contact’s mission to keep things simple, it also keeps all reporting and analytics in-house. This means: no third-party tools, no separate accounts, no tracking codes, and no jargon.
Instead, engagement stats are integrated directly into your Constant Contact account, in a highly visual and easy-to-understand dashboard that contains useful information on your visitors and their demographics, where your website traffic is coming from, and which sources are driving it. Website analytics can sometimes seem a bit daunting, especially to beginners, so I think this is one of Constant Contact’s standout features.
But – if you are a more advanced user, you still have the option of adding a Google Analytics tracking code to your site. So everyone’s a winner.
E-commerce is another aspect where Constant Contact does really well. Considering the low price tag, I would say that it’s actually pretty great how much functionality you get out of your Constant Contact online store. With your plan, you get:
Digital and physical products and services
Coupons and discounting features
Integrated shipping management
Transactional emails (not marketing emails)
Some of the features are actually on the advanced side, such as the option to limit the number of times someone can access a digital download. Payments on Constant Contact are primarily managed by PayPal, meaning you have to factor in processing fees on top of Constant Contact’s transaction fees.
On the downside, there’s no option to make sub-pages, so you can’t categorize your products if you have a lot of them. But if you’re a small business just making a few sales, this isn’t a deal-breaker. Real-time shipping rates ensure you can always give your customers the best deal, while the analytics section makes it easier to track your performance as a seller.
I want to take a moment to touch on SEO tools, because I think it’s an area where Constant Contact really pales in comparison to its competitors. In a nutshell, the tools you’re given are very basic. You can change page titles, descriptions and alt tags, but that’s about it – apart from a few very simple guides in the Constant Contact knowledge center, which mostly direct you toward a paid tool.
I know that Constant Contact isn’t exactly shooting for the stars with its website builder, but SEO is essential, even for beginners – it’s how you get your website found. This is something that other website builders learned a long time ago, and now offer great solutions – like the Wix SEO Wiz, which can get just about anyone SEO-literate in a few simple steps.
When it comes to ease of use, Constant Contact finally scores highly. Seriously, it doesn’t get easier than this. My dog could build a website using Constant Contact (okay, he’s lacking the dexterity needed to work the mouse, but you get what I mean…) Everything about Constant Contact seems to be designed to make building your website as quick and straightforward as possible, making it ideal for beginners or the less technically-capable.
AI-Powered Website Builder
I touched on this above, but just to reiterate: the Constant Contact editor takes you by the hand and guides you through the whole set-up process. This definitely feels a lot easier than building your site from scratch using something like Squarespace or WordPress. Indeed, you never feel overwhelmed by choices, but there’s still just about enough customization options to make you feel that you’re putting your own stamp on your website.
Super Beginner-Friendly Editor
After the AI has done its thing and built you a shell of a website, you are taken to the point-and-click editor. Constant Contact seems to know that being presented with a new interface can feel a bit overwhelming, so it gives you a little tour to kick things off, telling you what each of the buttons do.
After that, adding, deleting and editing elements feels incredibly intuitive. You simply select what you need from the panel on the left, and then it pops up on the website preview on the right. All changes show up in real-time, so you can see exactly what your website will look like.
Another saving grace is the automatic save function. It happened a couple of times that I accidentally clicked away from my website without saving (partly due to a glitch – more on these later). Annoyingly, if you accidentally exit the editor, there’s no “cancel” button; you can only choose whether to save your work or not. A few times, I accidentally clicked “exit without saving,” wrongly assuming that it was the “back” button.
But, don’t worry, the next time you load up your website you’ll get a greeting telling you that you forgot to save your work, but Constant Contact didn’t (a bit smug, if you ask me, but anyway…) If you’re anything like me and are forever clicking buttons without really reading what they do, this is a good backup to have.
Creating an Online Store
Setting up a store on Constant Contact is – you guessed it! – also super simple. You just need to click the “Store” button in the left-side panel, and then the wizard runs you through the whole set-up process. Enter your store details, preferred payment methods, and shipping charges, and then you can start adding products, before putting the final touches on your storefront.
I would have given Constant Contact a perfect score on the ease-of-use front, if it weren’t for the fact that it’s a bit glitchy. I ran into this issue right at the beginning, literally on the second step of my sign-up process. I wanted to browse through the Unsplash image options, which were displayed in a bar to the left side of my screen, but no matter what I did with my mouse, it would scroll the website preview on the right-hand side. The images wouldn’t budge. Annoying.
There were also moments where I noticed that Constant Contact’s editor itself wasn’t displaying correctly, as if it couldn’t optimize itself for my screen size. Text was showing as all bunched up, or with words actually sitting on top of each other. If the actual platform itself can’t display correctly on different devices, it doesn’t fill me with confidence that my website will…
And I don’t think I was just unlucky. From what I’ve read online, plenty of other people have experienced issues like this with Constant Contact. If you’re a beginner, this is far from ideal, because it can be hard to work out whether it’s the builder that’s the problem, or you!See if Constant Contact Website Builder is Right for You
Constant Contact Lives Up to Its Name
When you decide to name your business Constant Contact, you’re setting expectations pretty high when it comes to the customer support side of things. So, when you run into issues, does Constant Contact live up to its name?
Constant Contact offers help and support via phone (available Monday through Saturday) and live chat (available Monday through Friday). If you have a problem on a Sunday, your only option is to consult the Knowledge Base, which is a selection of walk-through guides covering a number of different topics, illustrated with videos and images.
One area where I ran into confusion was the fact that there are separate help centers for the Constant Contact Website Builder and for Constant Contact Email Marketing. For instance, if you just search “Constant Contact Support,” you get taken to the support pages for email marketing – although that’s not made immediately clear, so I was browsing for quite a while before I realized my mistake. Perhaps unsurprisingly, since that product’s been around a lot longer, there’s a lot more in the way of support – they even have a forum – but none of this is going to solve your website builder problem.
So, since I have a lifetime aversion to talking to people on the phone, I turned to the live chat option first. You have to select your problem from a drop-down list and then type your question, before being connected to an agent. I wanted to know if I was able to import content from my WordPress website directly to my Constant Contact one.
I was waiting for just a few seconds before someone arrived. Their language had that slight sense of being auto-translated, but everything made sense and they were able to answer my question pretty easily – in a word, no, it’s not possible.
The next time, I wasn’t so lucky. When I clicked through to the live chat option, I encountered yet another glitch. Every time I attempted to select an option from the drop down list, the whole thing would sort of shiver, then go blank. I couldn’t select anything.
I had to exit and reload the page before it would work. This time, I was connected to an agent, Kavya, within a few seconds. I was put “on hold” for a few minutes a couple of times while she tested some things out, but everything (such as a security code to my email address) came through very quickly, and my issue with the image scrolling was solved. Overall, glitchiness aside, I was quite impressed with Constant Contact’s live chat option. I certainly can’t fault their waiting times.
In the name of research and thoroughness, I then picked up the phone. This time, I had to wait a little longer – around seven minutes – but eventually I was patched through to a friendly and cheerful agent who explained to me exactly why it wasn’t possible to transfer my WordPress website over, but how I could copy-and-paste certain elements and save me time. They were very nice. Perhaps I’ll pick up the phone more often…
Simple: Do You Want Emails or Not?
Constant Contact used to offer three different price plans, including a free one, but recently they’ve made some pretty major changes. Now, instead of a free plan, there’s a 60-day free trial and one website builder plan – which is aptly named “Website Builder.” This one-size-fits-all plan offers pretty much everything you need to build a decent website – and everything I’ve mentioned above.
It’s worth noting again that this pricing comes with a transaction fee of 1.5% on all website sales (and you’ve also got to factor in processing fees, depending on which payment gateway you use) – but considering Constant Contact’s low price tag, it’s still a pretty good deal, especially if your sales volume is relatively low.
You also won’t get access to email marketing tools on this plan, because – and this should be obvious – Constant Contact also wants to sell you their email marketing service, which, surprise surprise, comes with a much heftier price tag. However, since Constant Contact supports external integrations, you do have the option of attaching your website to email marketing from another provider, such as Mailchimp, so I don’t see this as a dealbreaker.
To upgrade, you simply need to click “View pricing” from your account dashboard. Constant Contact accepts PayPal and all major credit cards, including Visa, MasterCard, and American Express. There’s also a discount if you pay for six months upfront, and an even bigger discount if you go with an annual subscription.
Cancellations & Refunds
Constant Contact subscriptions renew automatically, unless you check the “Do Not Renew” button during your sign-up process. This means that, even if you’ve only paid for one month upfront, they will keep charging you automatically after that until you cancel your subscription.
And cancelling your subscription isn’t exactly fuss-free. It took me a lot of searching round and round my Constant Contact account and then, finally, turning to the internet in desperation, before I discovered that, to cancel your account, you’ve got to get on the phone. When it comes to upgrading, however, they’re perfectly happy to process your request online.
When you call the number provided, they’ll go through a few questions as to why you’re cancelling your subscription, and then send you an email within 24 hours to confirm the cancellation. It’s not a huge hassle, but making people call seems to me like a way to put people off – and lots of people on TrustPilot seem to agree with me.
My refund was processed pretty quickly. If you aren’t satisfied with your plan, you can get a full refund within 30 days of your first payment. One small caveat – your upgrade contains a free domain for one year, but if you decide to cancel, you’ll be asked to pay for it.
Constant Contact Website Builder REVIEW: BOTTOM LINE
Constant Contact is an incredibly user- and budget-friendly website builder, offering all of the tools you need to set up a fully functioning website. Its AI-powered interface and intuitive point-and-click editor make it a great option for beginners or those who want an all-in-one-product with an attractive price tag.
However, its limited customization options, poor designs, and some comparatively underwhelming features mean that it’s still got quite a way to go before it’s ready to compete with the top dogs of website building. Customers who want more power, flexibility and aesthetics would be better off spending a little extra on a Wix website.
Is Constant Contact a good website builder?If you’re looking for a great all-rounder website builder that offers a lot of features for a competitive price, Constant Contact could be a great choice. However, compared to some other website builders on the market, it scores relatively poorly on power and customizability. Check out our list of the best website builders for 2021 to find your perfect match. How much is a Constant Contact subscription?Constant Contact offers one website builder pricing plan (as well as a free 60-day trial), which comes with everything you need to make a basic website. You can get significant discounts if you take out a six-month or annual subscription. If you want access to email marketing, you’ll have to upgrade to one of their email marketing packages. Before upgrading, make sure to visit our coupons page to take advantage of the best deals.Does Constant Contact have landing pages?Constant Contact is a specialist in all things email marketing, and so helps its members create a variety of landing pages – single web pages that encourage users to take a specific action. It’s also possible to create landing pages via the Constant Contact website builder.Are there any good free website builders?While Constant Contact doesn’t offer a free plan, it does have a 60-day free trial and a competitively-priced website builder plan. If you’re looking for a free website builder, check out our list of the best free website builders in 2021.
Abi has worked as a writer, editor, and content marketeer for more than five years. When not glued to her laptop, she whips up calorific baked goods, writes terrible short stories, and searches for new dogs to follow on Instagram.