It may be surprising to hear a successful email marketing company say it, but Janine Popick, Founder and CEO of VerticalResponse Marketing admits the main product her company has been selling to small businesses for the last 13 years has had its day.
So when the company decided on an upgrade, they came to the conclusion that they would be better off just going back to the drawing board. Popick told Small Business Trends recently:
“Because we’ve been around so long, we just listened to what our customers wanted.”
Acquired in 2013 by Deluxe, VerticalResponse Marketing has designed a totally new platform that brings in some new ideas, too.
One of the biggest changes is the addition of simple drag and drop controls. They let you add photos, text and even social media buttons to your newsletter, thank you, invitation, or sale announcement.
Another new idea is a freemium version. For the first time, it allows small businesses with fewer than 1,000 email contacts to get started with an account free of charge.
In the previous version of VerticalResponse, Popick says users could have a trial period using the software. But after that, even the smallest businesses were expected to start paying for the service.
Popick sees the new freemium version as a kind of marketing tool. She explains:
“We’re hoping you’ll tell a friend.”
Also, as small businesses using VerticalResponse expand, the company hopes they will upgrade to the paid version of the service.
There are three basic pricing tiers:
- At the free level, users can have up to 1,000 email contacts, send a maximum of 4,000 email messages per month and can link one Facebook and one Twitter account to the platform.
- At the Basic level, users can connect up to three social media accounts, send an unlimited number of emails per month and pay an introductory cost of $8.80 per month for up to 500 email contacts. (Prices increase with the number of email contacts on your list.)
- At the Pro level, users can connect up to six social media accounts, send an unlimited number of emails per month and pay an introductory cost of $12.75 per month for up to 500 email contacts. (Again, prices increase the more email contacts your business has.)
The new version of VerticalResponse also lets you share and schedule email and social media up to a month ahead of time.
Controls for both email and social media are located in one dashboard. This is unlike the older software which had email and social media controls in two separate parts of the program.
It is also the first time the company has offered responsive design on all its content. This is so that newsletters, invites and other updates you generate will look the right way whether displayed on a laptop, tablet or mobile phone. The platform offers 50 responsive templates to choose from when designing your emails and social media posts.
Some less popular features will be leaving, Popick said. One is a feature letting you send paper postcards to your contacts. She says Deluxe has another similar feature for sending postcards that will take this service’s place.
So what about the old product which the company calls VerticalResponse “classic?” VerticalResponse will slowly begin migrating current customers to the new platform over the next year.
I think that they are heading in the right direction by making these changes. They had just introduced something unique to their marketing platform. They can now give potential customers a reason to shift to their platform. Let’s see what it can do to their business.
I think what it shows, above all else, is that there are times you must reinvent your product or service for the changing market. But I think it’s also great to give small business owners a look at some of the evolving tools out there — some of them even free — that can solve marketing and other problems they face.