While many people might view a site like Aweber to be the end-all, be-all in the world of email marketing, we already know that there are a few other contenders separating themselves from the herd. One is MailChimp.com, a site we’ve also reviewed here at Clickfire, but the one we’re concerned with today is Vertical Response, which advertises itself as email marketing for small businesses.
Is Vertical Response better than MailChimp? Better than Aweber? Like many things, the answer usually depends on what you’re looking for – the needs you have to have filled. But a closer look at Vertical Response should give you a better idea of whether this is the platform you want to check out. To get started, let’s take the classic approach: a pros and cons list.
Let’s start with the positives.
Free trial: Any frequent reader of my reviews knows that I consider a free trial to be a necessity for most online platforms, and that a good, easy-to-sign-up-for free trial will yield bonus points for any online platform. Heck, some platforms will let you use their minimal services for free – that’s the good stuff. There’s a free trial here, as well, which is a plus, and no credit card is required. Maybe I didn’t like Vertical Response’s reaction to one of my all-letters passwords, but all in all it’s a good way to check out the service if you’re still not sure. One thing I’m not sure about: why Vertical Response needs my phone number for a free trial.
Analytics: One thing I really liked about MailChimp is that it allows you to easily perform A/B tests on your email campaigns right from the main account page. Here I don’t see much in the way of A/B tests except that which you have to perform yourself, but the rest of the analytics do seem pretty impressive. Features like ROI tracking for your online store and campaign comparisons should provide plenty of meat for most online marketing junkies to sink their teeth into.
Partnering: Integration with Twitter and Facebook is a must-have in this day and age, and that’s what Vertical Response looks to deliver. MailChimp also offers integration with other tools so if this is really important to you, a closer look at the resource integration capabilities of each site could be a deciding factor in which provider you end up choosing.
This Pros list is, admittedly, a little underwhelming. But if we’re rooting for Vertical Response we’ll want an even shorter list of Cons.
Pricing: As I mentioned earlier on, pricing is very important to me. If two platforms are essentially the same and one offers a minimal free service and the other doesn’t, guess which platform I’m going with? You guessed it. MailChimp offers free services for people with smaller lists while Vertical Response simply makes you pay a small fee every month. But I’d rather spend $10 a month somewhere else; I’m taking MailChimp if my email list demands are humble and I’m just starting out. Besides, getting over 500 subscribers is not a massive milestone that warrants an increase to a $28 monthly subscription.
But what about upper-tier pricing options? Like MailChimp, Vertical Response offers pay-as-you-go options. The prices here are pretty reasonable and you’ll actually pay less per email the more subscribers you have, which is a nice incentive to keep growing that list.
How many lists can I manage? MailChimp made a point of advertising your ability to create as many email lists as you want; from Vertical Response I see no such bragging, which leads me to believe there must be a caveat I haven’t been able to find. The casual email list maker might not need an infinite number of lists, but if your business is essentially online marketing, you’ll want to not have to worry about a quota. How many lists can I manage, Vertical Response?
Other Features and Notes
Thus far, a relatively superficial sweep of MailChimp and Vertical Response seems to tip the balance in MailChimp’s favor, so let’s talk a little more about what you’ll receive if you sign up with Vertical Response. Like many email marketing platforms, you’ll be able to easily integrate a few normal features like email surveys, subscription forms – all of that good stuff. Unsubscribing management is a must-have given our current laws, and of course Vertical Response provides for that, as well.
In our MailChimp review, we asked what it was about MailChimp that made it stand out from the crowd. That’s the question that seems largely unanswered here. Vertical Response advertises itself as email marketing for small businesses, but what is it about Vertical Response that small businesses will really enjoy by choosing Vertical Response over some other platforms? This question, too, seems unanswered.
I’ve managed email lists before, but admittedly I’m not a hardcore email list manager or email marketer. Even so, it’s hard for me to imagine that looking at Vertical Response would yield a “Wow!” from anyone with a lot of email marketing to handle and a lot of email addresses to manage. For people who are just starting out with email lists and email marketing, the free services of the lower-tier plan from MailChimp looks like a far superior choice to Vertical Response.
How does Vertical Response compare to Aweber? If you’re currently using Aweber and don’t have any problems with it, then you’re probably fine sticking with it. You can always experiment with Vertical Response and tinker with it during a free trial – always a plus – but if you’re not sure about which email marketing platform to use, you have to expect a company to knock you out with a really favorable feature. I don’t think Vertical Response quite accomplishes that.