US tech firm crosses pond

AMERICAN online marketing adviser Constant Contact is today opening a London office in a bid to help the UK catch up with the technologically superior US.

The company, which helps small and medium businesses use and monitor their online presence from email to Facebook, is backing the trend of American IT firms basing themselves in the UK. A report released last week in conjunction with the US Secretary of Commerce showed over 3,500 US technology companies now have a British base.

Founded in 1998, Constant Contact has 450,000 SME customers worldwide, of which 10,000 are in the UK.

UK managing director Annette Iafrate said, “The early adopters of the email market, and then the social media market, seemed to be in the US. The UK is catching on quickly, but it still seems to be a little behind.

“In October we surveyed over 1,900 respondents. We found that over 81 per cent of SMEs in the US use social media. In the UK, only about half of small businesses do.”

She further revealed that only a third of SMEs in the UK believe that their current social media attempts have been effective.

“There is a gap between the US and UK but the gap is closing. Expanding to the UK is the logical next step,” Iafrate said.

Constant Contact, based in Massachusetts, is growing at a steady rate of about 20 per cent a year.

It reported a revenue of $174m in 2010, up 35 per cent from its 2009 figure. It is expected to reach over $213m in 2011.

The opening of the UK division coincides with the launch of Social Campaign, a social media tool which allows SMEs to run results-oriented marketing campaigns on Facebook.

Iafrate said, “There is a wealth of talented and ambitious small business owners who play such a crucial role in the UK’s economy.

“We’re thrilled to establish a permanent base here to provide our customers with the help they need to succeed.”