Skip to main content

WMC Interviews: Janine Popick

I recently caught up with Janine Popick, founder and CEO of VerticalResponse. Like many other hosted email services, VerticalResponse gives you easy-to-use tools for creating and executing email campaigns—pre-built HTML templates, list management and segmentation, click-through reporting, etc. Unlike many other services however, VerticalReponse prices its service on a pay-as-you-go model rather than a monthly or annual fee. This is great for organizations that send out email blasts on an irregular or ad hoc basis.

Here's our conversation.

WebMarketCentral (WMC): What did you do before VerticalResponse?

Janine Popick (JP): I've been in Direct Marketing for about 17 years in one fashion or another. In the late 90's after a merger with, and to form NBCi, I formed NBCi Direct, the direct marketing division of NBC Internet. Before that I served as VP of Direct Marketing and Ecommerce at the 12th most trafficked website and was an officer of the public company.

In the early to mid 90's I managed Direct Marketing at Claris Corp. a wholly owned subsidiary of Apple Inc. as well as Insignia Solutions and Symantec Corporation. I've mostly been around high technology companies.

WMC: How, when and why did you get started in this business?

JP: After just a year and the beginning of the bust, it was time for a break. My husband John and I headed to Paris, but not just for relaxation. We had invested in a Parisian email marketing company and went to apply experiences to help them. I worked there almost daily for 4 months.

While in Paris, I developed the idea for VerticalResponse, the successful online marketing solution enabling anyone – regardless of technical expertise – to get up and running fast with email marketing campaigns – the perfect solution for small businesses. I've not strayed from what I set out to do 6+ years ago. Small businesses need tools to grow and we feel we built a pretty darn good one for them.

WMC: Who is your ideal or typical client?

JP: We focus on smaller companies but because we've got a great solution, we often find ourselves with customers from smaller divisions of very large companies. Our typical customers mails weekly or every two weeks and needs a wizard-based solution enabling them to build their own graphical email.

WMC: What sets you apart from your competition?

JP: I think our customer service and attentiveness is probably the biggest thing. We care about them, we talk to people and help them with any issues. Once, one of our engineers couldn't replicate a problem a customer was having, and he happened to be a 15 minute drive, so he drove over to the customers business. Now that's customer service.

We also have a pay-as-you-go model which small business seem to like. They don't want to have to pay for something they don't necessarily need on a given month.

One more differentiator: As easy as it is to create and launch an email marketing campaign using VerticalResponse (in minutes really), you can also design and launch a direct mail postcard campaign to your postal addresses. It's a nice one stop shop for direct marketing for small businesses.

WMC: How do you market and promote your business?

JP: You name it! We have an award-winning blog, email marketing campaigns (of course!), an easy-to-navigate website, tons of marketing resources, PR, tradeshows (we're going to eBay Live in June!) outbound newsletter sponsorships, online advertising buys, radio, we even have an outdoor advertising campaign! However, the most special promotion we can get is word of mouth. Watching our customers tell others about our services is just the best.

WMC: What's the biggest or most important marketing lesson you've learned since you started VerticalResponse?

JP: Being a direct marketer I really discounted PR in the beginning. There was very little in the way of tracking anything. That's what direct marketing is all about. Now with social networks, blogs, reviews, you've got to put a ton of effort into PR since your PR is really in the hands of anyone who can publish to the web. If you do but effort behind it, and you do it right, it really works all the way to your sales goals.

WMC: Anything else you'd like to add?

JP: It's more important than ever to track what people are saying about you. Now more than ever you've got user feedback that's instantaneous. Talk about being able to make changes to a product or service you have by "listening" to your users...what a concept!


The affiliate Internet marketing portal:

The only Minneapolis-based agency focused exclusively on
marketing and PR for B2B technology companies: KC Associates

Contact Tom Pick:


terra said…
Great post! It's good to see other women in technology! Loved the interview!
Tom said…
Terra - thanks! You might also want to check out my interviews with publishing diva Yvonne DiVita and my boss -- an extremely smart B2B marketer, Kirsten Chapman.

All Time Greats

Digital Marketing for Law Firms, How Hard is it?

A lot of "verticals" or industries make sense for digital marketing and the whole process can be very easy and intuitive. For instance, if you are running a Search Engine Optimization company, it's very straightforward to content market:

1- Write blogs or articles about SEO
2- Try to answer questions people have about SEO
3- Optimize those blogs around what the questions are and what you are saying.

But what about an industry that is a lot more complicated and not very straight forward? What about marketing for lawyers?

ACE, one of Philadelphia's top Law Firm Marketing companies, just posted this extremely helpful blog about why SEO is important for Law Firms. It delves into exactly how to do the job for a complex industry like the law and its practitioners.

One of the key points in the entire article is: "If your customer journey does not have a use for search services, then you'll never see SEO campaign results."

We recommend reading the whole thing. …

Tip #3 to improve your digital marketing

Do Your Research You may have ideas for what is going to work best for your audience based on past experience with your ads, but taking the time to conduct thorough research and have data to support your actions is important. You may anticipate that your customers will behave a certain way, when in fact they go in a completely different direction. It’s essential to be prepared for this ahead of time and use the information you collect from research to planning your marketing strategy. Elliot Simmonds explains this concept below:

“ A lot of people use sponsored posts and other paid advertising, and it seems that many are happy to simply pay the money and watch the views and clicks roll in - even if some of those clicks are from individuals tangential to the product or service they're promoting. Most platforms allow you to specifically target your sponsored posts and ads, and my tip is to do so following a period (even if it's only a short period) of actual research. Your gut i…

Tip #2 to Improve your Digital Marketing

Spend Wisely Each platform used to market online provides you with a different value. You need to analyze which outlets you should invest more time and money into, and which ones are not as important. Some platforms that work well for one company, yield little to no results for another. You need to find the one that suits your business goals the best. Digital Marketing is all very specific to your brand, and you need to plan your budget accordingly. Determining what each platform is going to do for your specific advertising efforts should be the basis for the decisions you make with your campaigns, explains Hitesh Sahni, Marketing Consultant at Smemark:

“It’s imperative to understand the value each channel offers. Search advertising platforms, such as Google Adwords, work best when there is a clear demand for your product or service, and you want to target people who search for your product or service online. Search advertising is less effective for a startup that has created a new an…

Does SEO Actually Work?

I wrote this for my new Doctor Digital column over at Results Driven Marketing's Blog. But I wanted to share it here too.

It's the most basic question of all: Does SEO Actually Work?

Yes it does! But not like you think it does.

This graphic should explain it pretty well:

Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving, Y'all!

Tips to Improve Digital Marketing: Tip 1

Digital advertising has become a major component of modern day marketing strategies. Here are tips on how to improve your digital marketing strategy:

1. Be Creative Your business has visual elements that make it stand out from your competition. Use that to your advantage in your marketing efforts. Whether it is a logo, mascot, font, or color scheme, having it included can help make your brand recognizable. You want to catch the eye of the audience, but you also want to maintain their attention and have them remember your brand. Incorporating unique and creative visual elements into your ads is crucial to the success the ads will bring you. Sarah Maloy, Content Marketing Manager at Shutterstock points out that you want a variety of creative images, but they should be consistent: "When advertising on social media, it's important to refresh your creative often so that it is relevant and so that users aren't seeing the same post more than once. When testing variations and tryi…

AHREFS tops the marketing blunder list of 2018

It’s Early in 2018 and AHREFS tops the marketing blunder list It’s only the first week in February and you are reading about the Metrics/Data supplier that has provided us with fodder by creating a huge marketing blunder, Ahrefs.

Ahrefs is world's biggest third-party database of search queries with refined monthly search volume and research metrics.  Their data is used by untold numbers of digital marketers across the world.  Arguably they are the industry leader in this type of data.  The only thing that they changed was how a tiny item in their metrics was being calculated. 
About a week prior to the effective date of the change, Ahrefs notified users that a change was coming to how they calculated a domain rating or DR.  They also stated that many sites would see their rankings drop.  I agree that a need for change was warranted.  What I don’t agree with how they calculated the change and its ramifications for roughly 75% of all websites.  

This past Friday evening around 11 P.…