We’re back with Part 2 of our Constant Contact walkthrough! Hopefully Part 1 provided you with enough information to start your own email marketing account and begin growing your messaging audience. Don’t forget to reach out with any questions you may have – the Country Folks Grower family would be delighted to address any particular reader issues or feedback you may have.

We’re going to shift focus to the expanded features Constant Contact has recently introduced – Social Scheduling & Community Listening, Paid Search & Social Ads and Event Registrations. These tools will help you nurture your client/audience relationships, reach new customers that haven’t previously engaged with you or your business and add revenue lines by hosting ticketed events.

Social Scheduling & Community Listening

For most small business owners, time management is key. With so many responsibilities to handle day in and day out, remembering to post to your Facebook Business Page multiple times a week can prove not only tedious but also draining to your creativity and customer service skills.

Thankfully, Constant Contact has built these features to help small business owners maximize the effort they spend creating content and posting to social media platforms. Users can now schedule posts in advance, making content planning and maintaining a regular posting schedule a more manageable task. “Social” is now one of the main menu items within the Constant Contact dashboard – that’s how much focus they’ve put into these new tools.

You’ll first need to properly connect and authorize Constant Contact and Facebook (or your other social accounts – CC can connect to Instagram, Twitter and LinkedIn as well). Go the “Social” menu and follow the prompts to connect your accounts. When you’re ready to get started with content scheduling, go to “Campaigns,” click the “Create” button and select “Social Post.”

You can upload images, write hashtag- and emoji-compatible captions and schedule your newly created post to be published whenever you feel it’s most relevant or timely. You can even opt to publish posts to multiple platforms at once. Since they all have different character limits for posts (Twitter a mere 280, but Facebook allows over 63,000!), Constant Contact allows you to create variations and reformat captions when needed, to make sure important information doesn’t get cut off and lost. This one-stop shop set-up, allowing users to schedule content for multiple social media accounts in one place, can be a huge time-saver.

So what happens after the post is published? We need to gauge how well our content is received by our customers. Community listening involves monitoring what people are saying about your brand throughout an array of online mentions, whether they comment directly on your post, use a hashtag related to your company, brand or product or directly tag your company’s account in a post or comment. It’s important to engage with your customers by responding back to their comments on your posts, or resharing their posts if they mention you favorably.

While Constant Contact doesn’t quite seem to be able to monitor hashtags yet, comments to your CC-published posts will appear in your Social dashboard under “Inbox.” Responses can be posted from there, without needing to switch to the social media platform, allowing you to stay on-task when you’re in business mode.

Paid Search & Social Ads

You may have noticed when you clicked that “Create” button there were quite a few other options besides “Email” and “Social Post.” “Ads” (to this writer) is the most impressive feature Constant Contact offers, because ad management is no walk in the park. While Facebook and Google ad managers can be extremely daunting, Constant Contact cuts to the chaff.

There are three options for “Ads” in this dashboard. Facebook and Instagram ads use demographic and personal data to help you target customers. Facebook lead ads will help reach new potential customers who may be interested. And Google ads will show up in search results, helping to put your business front and center.

You will have to go through additional account set-up steps, as each platform has stringent regulations on what can be published as an ad. There are also costs involved, as advertising isn’t free.

Ad placement and targeting is something that should be carefully thought out, perhaps using the customer avatar strategy we discussed a few issues back. Images need to be professional looking, eye-catching and pleasing to look at, while words need to be carefully chosen to succinctly deliver your best selling point. There is room for trial and error here – these platforms will offer reports about ad performance, allowing you to review what ads folks reacted to and which were ignored.

Event Registrations

If you’ve hosted events before and sold tickets online, you may have heard of Ticket Tailor, Eventbrite or other online ticketing platforms for event planners. Once again, Constant Contact has expanded their features and made juggling additional accounts, passwords and monthly fees a bit more manageable.

Events are also under the “Campaigns” -> “Create” menu. Enter all the relevant information, like title and description, start time and location (which can be virtual, of course!) and decide on options like maximum tickets available, auto-shutoff of registrations after a certain time or number of registrants and whether you’d like to prompt them to join your newsletter list (this is originally an email platform, after all!). The next page of “Event Settings” will offer options to charge a fee for the ticket, create ticket pricing tiers if applicable, whether you’d like to offer any other items for sale along with the registration (like merch available for pick-up at your event), discount codes or donations.

Once you’ve created your event, Constant Contact will prompt you to customize your registration form, edit notifications that customers receive and even create a landing page you can point customers to for purchasing tickets.

From there, start promoting via social channels and email campaigns, and your event is on its way to being a huge success, all in just a few minutes.

In summary, Constant Contact is an industry-leading, multi-functional marketing tool and an affordable and user-friendly partner in helping small businesses reach their goals.

Thanks for reading – we covered a lot of different features here, so if there are any questions, email us! You can reach Liz via Associate Editor Courtney Llewellyn at cllewellyn@leepub.com.