- Reasonable monthly cost
- Good reporting tools
- Good customer support
- Steep learning curve
- Basic feature list
Since its inception in 2001, VerticalResponse has been all about helping businesses connect with their customers through email. In the nearly twenty years since that time, they have consistently created new ways to do just that. VerticalResponse, now owned by Delux Corporation, remains a solid choice for email marketing needs in 2019, especially if some of the more advanced automation features implemented by other email marketing companies freak you out a little.
VerticalResponse has a good mix of usability, good features, and a decent price. You get a standard email editor, a landing page for your website, and more. You even get the option to make surveys for your subscribers, if you are willing to pay a little extra.
So is VerticalResponse worth it? I would say that on the whole, yes, it is. Read on to see why.
Table of Contents
VerticalResponse has re-formatted their price list since last we reviewed them. Now they have three plans for basic email marketing and three more for their new Survey service. Those plans break down as follows:
- Landing pages
- Pop-up forms
- Live customer support
- Send unlimited emails
- Remove VerticalResponse branding
- Automated follow-up emails
- Advanced reporting
- Delivery rate review
- A/B subject line testing
- Automated email series
- Dedicated account contact
- Email campaign strategist
- Emails created by experts
- Newsletter created by experts
- Social posts created by experts
- Tailored reports and consultation
Note that the minimum prices are for 500 subscribers, while maximum are for up to 40,000
All email plans also come with the following “core features:”
- Email editor
- Contact list management
- Basic reports & analytics
- Send automated emails to new contacts
- HTML editor
- Mobile-responsive templates
- Award-winning email customer support
- Facebook & Twitter sharing
- Access to image library
Like the email plans, the surveys come with a set of core features:
- Ask up to 10 questions per survey
- Survey up to 100 respondents
- Mobile-responsive templates
- Easily edit colors, fonts and question types
- Get basic reporting and analytics
From there, you pick one of the following plans:
- Ask unlimited questions
- Survey unlimited respondents
- Randomized questions
- Incorporate skip logic
- Remove VerticalResponse branding
- Custom domain
- Question & answer piping
- Score your surveys
- Advanced survey reporting
Ease Of Use
If VerticalResponse shines anywhere, it’s here. An email address and password is enough to get you started.
VerticalResponse has an extraordinarily simple design. A navigation bar at the top of the screen gives you a choice between Messages and Contacts; you can also access your profile settings and help options via a link in the upper right corner of the screen. While it is simple, there are times the layout isn’t as intuitive as I’d like. Custom fields for contacts, for instance, are located under profile settings rather than being on the contact page. Nonetheless, there are so few places to look for functions that it’s nearly impossible to get lost for long.
You have a choice between pasting in HTML and a pretty powerful drag-and-drop WYSIWYG editor. The latter includes a good number of theme templates and 4 basic templates.
One nice perk is the ability to edit images within the program. Once uploaded, images can be cropped, resized or even edited with effects ranging from text to stickers. It’s not Photoshop, but it’s more than sufficient for tweaking an image at the last minute.
We’d previously criticized some limitations in the editor’s button system but, while they still have some limitation, you’ve got a lot more ability to customize both the containers and the text.
You can’t edit the HTML code or do anything especially advanced, but I’m happy to report that VerticalResponse’s editor now offers a solid, streamlined foundation upon which to build a basic campaign.
Sending The Email
Before you send your email, you can preview it, shifting between desktop, mobile phone, and tablet views. The phone and tablet options provide views of both vertical and horizontal configurations. Unlike many ESPs, VerticalResponse doesn’t provide access to any kind of spam checker to alert you to potential problems in your message. You can, however, send a test email to up to 10 addresses before mailing it to your full list.
As with most ESPs, you’ll need to certify that any list you upload is permission-based and conforms with the provider’s anti-spam policies. You can add lists in the following ways:
- Upload a csv, txt, xls, or xlsx file (Max size: 100 MB)
- Manually enter contacts one by one; in addition to name and email address, the form includes fields for mailing address, phone numbers, website, birth date, marital status, and gender. You can also add custom fields.
My first email sent quickly and was successfully delivered to the test addresses.
After your message has been sent, you can click on the link to the message to view bounces, opens, clicks, unsubscribes, spam complaints, and social activity (Likes, Shares, Re-Tweets, and Comments). You can also view the specific email addresses associated with bounces, opens, clicks, and unsubscribes.
You can create lists of non-responders and responders to your email with a couple of clicks. However, you can’t do more advanced list segmentation.
Customer Service & Support
My experience with customer service was, on the whole, a good one. Representatives were generally helpful, knowledgeable, and prompt in their responses to my inquiries. While you have to fill in some forms in advance, I never waited more than a minute for an online chat representative. My emails received replies in anywhere from 15 minutes to six hours, and when I called, I was talking with a human being within five minutes.
VerticalResponse offers the following support resources:
- Live Support: VerticalResponse provides live one-on-one support through the following means:
- Phone Support: You can reach VerticalResponse by phone weekdays from 6 a.m. to 5 p.m. PST.
- Email: Contact VerticalResponse using the online contact form here. Available Monday – Friday, 6 a.m. to 5 p.m. PST and Saturday – Sunday, 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. PST.
- Chat Support: Available Monday – Friday, 6 a.m. to 5 p.m. PST and Saturday – Sunday, 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. PST.
Help Center: VerticalResponse provides a searchable knowledge base of articles and FAQs. You can browse articles by category or enter your own search terms. A neat feature within the program is a contextual help center that sends you to topics related to the page you’re currently on.
Live Webinars: Live webinars are offered weekly and cover topics such as “Creating a Successful Email” and “10 Tips to Grow Your Email List.”
Blog: At least once every weekday, the VerticalResponse team posts a new entry to its blog. Articles typically discuss small business management, email marketing, and social media.
Negative Reviews & Complaints
The most common complaints I found are as follows:
- Limited Functionality: Some users found VerticalResponse too basic for their needs, saying it lacks the functions and features of other ESPs. Some also feel that the customization available for templates is far too limited.
- Glitches: There have been reports of glitches and inconsistent performance by some users.
- Laggy Customer Support: A few users reported bad experiences with customer service, saying their emails were ignored and they had trouble getting in touch with representatives by phone.
- Hard To Use: While just about everyone agrees that VerticalResponse is easy to learn, some say it is hard to use on a day to day basis. They point to inefficiency in layout and design, saying that it takes too many clicks to perform simple functions, that navigation can be frustrating, and that it can be very difficult to fix problems when they arise.
Positive Reviews & Testimonials
VerticalResponse’s parent company, Deluxe, is a BBB-accredited business and gets an A+. While a variety of customers are listed on the software’s testimonials page, there’s no actual feedback posted there. The software gets 3.4/5 stars on G2 Crowd based on 51 user ratings, most of which are for Classic, and 3.8/5 stars on Trustradius.com based on 44 user ratings.
Here are some of the most frequent points of praise:
- Ease Of Use: By far the most common accolade. Users say VerticalResponse is extraordinarily easy to learn, as well as to use.
- Reporting Tools: While VerticalResponse sticks to the basics with its reports, some users find they present the information in a simple, easy-to-understand format.
- Support: Users praise support, saying that they had no problems getting in touch with representatives and that they liked the level of personal attention VerticalResponse provided. The company also gets kudos for offering support via online chat.
- Nonresponder Segmentation: Users like the ability to quickly establish a new list of non-responders in order to target follow-up emails to that group.
VR2 has a fairly limited feature set. New features from Classic continue to be added. Here are some of the best features currently:
- WYSIWYG Editor: VerticalResponse includes 48 themed templates and 3 basic templates. All use responsive design and scale to desktops, mobile phones, and tablets. The software includes a drag-and-drop WYSIWYG email editor which allows for limited customization of the templates, including the addition of social share buttons. You can also code your own email with HTML, using the “Import HTML” option; however, you cannot edit the HTML code of a pre-existing template.
- Autoresponders: VerticalResponse offers some rudimentary automation in the form of an autoresponder you can send to people who sign up for your list.
- Landing Pages: Designed to be the first thing visitors see on your website, a landing page can be a great way of efficiently communicating your core message – and getting people to sign up for your updates.
- Preview: Before you send your email, you can run it through a basic preview, allowing you to see what it will look like on desktop and mobile devices. No previews are available for specific email clients, however, and some users have noticed discrepancies between their emails’ appearance in the preview and the actual emails.
- Pop-Ups: Not the obnoxious, old-school pop-up ads that can hijack your internet experience without an effective blocker, these pop-ups simply appear on your website after a pre-determined time to ask if visitors want to subscribe to your newsletters. It can be a pretty effective tool for growing your subscriber list!
- Social Sharing: You can post messages directly to Facebook and Twitter through VerticalResponse.
- Sign-up Forms: You can easily create email signup forms. VerticalResponse offers 12 basic templates, with limited options for customization. You can choose between 10 fonts and select which fields to include using a series of tick boxes. Once your form is complete, VerticalResponse will host it; you’ll get a link to the URL. You can also create a matching “Thank You” page. However, you cannot embed the sign-up form directly on your Facebook page or on your website, only link to it.
- Email Analytics: VerticalResponse’s reports cover the basics: bounces, opens, clicks, unsubscribes, and spam complaints, as well as social activity (Likes, Shares, Re-Tweets, and Comments).
- API: VerticalResponse’s API allows developers to create their own apps and integrations for the program
- Surveys: Vertical Responses survey system is designed to gather business insights from customers in an effective, efficient manner. This is a great way of determining the promise of new ideas before wasting R&D time on it.
Integrations & Add-Ons
VerticalResponse offers 21 add-ons and integrations with popular software programs and services. All integrations are offered through Zapier.
Some of the most popular integrations are:
- Shopify: Automatically add ecommerce customers into VerticalResponse email lists. (See our review here.)
- Magento: Sync contacts with the popular ecommerce software. (See our review here.)
- CRM Integrations: Sync contacts with popular CRM software such as Salesforce (review), Zoho CRM (review), Sugar CRM (review), and Highrise (review).
- SurveyMonkey: This integration allows you to import contacts from SurveyMonkey.
- Salesforce: The extremely popular customer relationship management tool
VerticalResponse stores data behind firewalls, uses SSL encryption for credit card data, and limits access to personal information to those employees who need to know it in order to perform their jobs (for example, customer service representatives). Servers are hosted in a secure data center which includes automated backup power systems.
Anti-spam Policy & Protection
VerticalResponse has a top-notch anti-spam policy and is CAN-SPAM compliant. Company personnel investigate all reports of abuse. As with any reputable ESP, VerticalResponse requires that all your lists are opt-in only. Companies within industries that are notorious for high levels of spam are prohibited from using VerticalResponse; you can find the details in the company’s Policies and Terms.
VerticalResponse is a decently-priced, modestly-featured email marketing app with a strong track record in the business. Sure, there are a few complaints going around, and you should certainly take them into consideration. In particular, I would take a close look at the complaints of a steep learning curve. Do your homework: watch tutorials, sign up for webinars, and the like.
As long as you feel like you can figure out how to make this app work for you, it would be tough to go wrong with VerticalResponse. Having said that, if you are looking for advanced automation of the sort offered by MailChimp, Sendinblue, and the like, then VerticalResponse if not for you.
Of course, before making any final decisions, you should always take advantage of the free trial. Give it a shot, then let us know what you think!
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