The Future of Marketing is Engagement! A Q&A with Constant Contact’s Rick Jensen

Posted by Debi Kleiman on Tue, Nov 20, 2012

A few weeks ago at FutureM, marketing and technology innovators came together to discover what’s next for the marketing industry. During the event, I sat down with MITX board member Rick Jensen, Chief Marketing and Sales Officer at Constant Contact, to discuss the future of marketing and how Constant Contact is evolving to meet the growing needs of its customers.

Tell us what’s new at Constant Contact?

The past year has been a busy one for Constant Contact. We’ve launched two new products designed to help small businesses reach their next great customer in important categories -- social media marketing and local deals. Social Campaigns, our social media product, created a new category for small business marketing, allowing customers to quickly and easily run results-oriented social media marketing campaigns on Facebook. With the launch of our new local deals product, SaveLocal, we took on the daily deal giants and addressed critical problems with the model that were putting merchants at significant financial and operational risk. As with all of Constant Contact’s products, the brilliance of SaveLocal and Social Campaigns is the ability to take highly complex marketing tasks and make them incredibly simple for our small business audience.

We also acquired four separate companies since the start of 2011 – all of which bring incredible talent to the Constant Contact team and help pave the way for the company’s continued evolution. The first of these acquisitions was Bantam Live, a social CRM platform, followed by MobManager, a Chicago-based company with deep expertise in how to make deals work for merchants as part of its preparation to enter the deals space with SaveLocal. Not long after, Constant Contact acquired CardStar, a Boston-based company that offers a mobile loyalty application, further accelerating the company’s entrance into the mobile marketing and loyalty spaces—two areas that are critical for small businesses to reach an increasingly mobile customer base. Most recently, we acquired SinglePlatform, which gives small businesses a single place to update their critical business information and delivers that information across a publishing network that reaches more than 200 million consumers per month.

I’d say the biggest take-away here is that it’s a whole new world at Constant Contact. We’ve grown from only offering email marketing to become the single place for small businesses and nonprofits to get the tools and resources they need to find new customers and create long-lasting relationships with them.

What are some key Constant Contact initiatives that you’d like the FutureM community to know about?

One thing became very clear to me after attending several interesting sessions at FutureM. The future of marketing is about engaging with your audiences – both new and existing. Defining and implementing an engagement strategy is the most effective way to generate new customers, repeat business, and referrals. This concept of Engagement Marketing is central to our future initiatives at Constant Contact, across both product development and customer coaching.

What makes Constant Contact different than other companies in your marketplace?

Constant Contact is unique to the industry because of its focus on small business. Our goal is to be a one-stop destination for small businesses to fulfill all of their online marketing needs—everything from email, to events, to local deals, social media, digital storefronts and online surveys—in an easy and affordable way. We also recognize that our customers don’t just need the tools; they also need education and coaching to use those tools effectively. To that end, we not only offer award-winning customer support but we also provide all customers with a free marketing coach to help them create effective marketing campaigns.

What has been Constant Contact greatest accomplishment in 2012?

At the beginning of 2012, we reached the half a million customer mark—a huge milestone for us. As our customer base continues to grow, so does our team serving it. We now have more than 1,000 employees working in our seven offices across the US and in the UK. With the introduction of new products and acquisitions made during 2012, we are well on our way in the transition from a company primarily known for email marketing to a multi-product online marketing solution. Email marketing continues to be one of the most effective tools that a business can use to connect with their customers, but today that connection can be reinforced by a variety of other online tools.

What is the biggest challenge you face in the marketplace today?

Keeping up with an evolving marketplace is our biggest and most constant challenge. As technology continues to advance, marketing shifts and develops alongside it. We are working day in and day out to stay with – or ahead! – of these trends to make sure that we are providing small businesses with solutions and services that meet their evolving needs.

Check out the last post in this series, by Dan Smith.