Constant Contact Debuts Event-Marketing Tool

Today’s launch of Constant Contact Event Marketing provides small businesses an inexpensive way to more effectively market events, increase awareness and drive greater participation among their customers and members. The new online service helps businesses, associations and non-profits professionally promote and efficiently manage registrations, RSVPs and payments for meetings, functions, seminars, in-store promotions and other events.

“Small businesses and organizations typically handle event marketing and tracking via indirect means, such as e-mail and spreadsheets,” said Erik Mintz, director of product strategy at Constant Contact. “Constant Contact Event Marketing gives them a professional service and a central point to plan and help promote events.”

With the service, customers can set up a “micro-site” Web site, which is hosted by Constant Contact, that serves as the home page for the event. Constant Contact furnishes templates and themes — more than 40 at launch — to get customers started, and customers can customize the ad-free site with their own branding and a Google map showing the event location.

In addition to the event site, Constant Contact Event Marketing provides e-mail invitations, an online calendar and an event link that you can include on other Web sites, blogs and social networking tools like Twitter and Facebook. The service also allows customers to send professional-looking communications such as reminders, updates and thank-you confirmations to registrants.

Beyond promoting the event, Constant Contact Event Marketing also lets customers capture and manage participant information. “The core of the service is our registration system,” noted Mintz. Customers can use the ready-made registration form as is, or customize it to capture particular data from registrants. Registrations are accepted 24/7, and the service enables credit card processing via PayPal to make it easier and faster for small organizations to manage payments.

Once you schedule an event, Constant Contact Event Marketing lets you track registration, payment, attendance and other information in real-time. A “dashboard” view offers quick links you can use to modify the event home page, update event information, send e-mails to registrants and other contacts and more.

You can even export collected data from Constant Contact Event Marketing as a CSV file for viewing and analysis in a separate program such as Excel.

Customers also gain access to the company’s technical support infrastructure, which includes Webinars, FAQs, a customer community and 160 live support technicians. “We also give them best-practices help, such as the best timing for their event,” said Mintz.

Constant Contact Event Marketing is a monthly service, with fees starting at $15 per month for up to five active events. If customers see that they won’t be holding an event for a period of time, they can discontinue the service and reactivate when they need it.

Mintz pointed out that there are no setup or sign-up costs and that, unlike other services, Constant Contact does not charge on a per-registration basis. “We don’t want to penalize customers for having a successful event,” he said.

You can use Constant Contact Event Marketing as a standalone product or as an integrated part of the company’s SpeakUp! Email Marketing and ListenUp! Online Survey tools. Using any combination of the services in tandem lets you seamlessly access your existing contact databases and information when promoting events.

For example, you could first send a “save-the-date” message in an e-mail blast or newsletter, promote and track the event via Event Marketing, and then gather feedback using the online survey tool. Constant Contact offers a 33-percent discount off the second service when customers sign up for more than one.

Jamie Bsales is an award-winning technology writer and editor with nearly 14 years of experience covering the latest hardware, software and Internet products and services.

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