After more than 20 years of experience leading direct and online marketing programs for some of the biggest companies in tech and entertainment such as NBC Internet, XOOM.com, Claris Corp (a wholly owned subsidiary of Apple Inc) and Symantec Corporation, Janine Popick struck out on her own and started VerticalResponse in 2001. VerticalResponse, which was started as an email marketing service provider, today offers a full suite of tools including social media marketing, online event marketing, online surveys and postcard marketing.
Janine started VerticalResponse in an effort to help small businesses and non-profits grow by offering them affordable self-service marketing tools. Her proudest moment as the founder of VerticalResponse has been the day the company became profitable seven years ago and the fact that they’ve really never looked back.
Helping Small Businesses Implement Effective Internet Marketing Strategies
The entire gamut of internet marketing tools can be puzzling, especially for small businesses with relatively smaller budgets. As per Janine, “The biggest challenge I hear from small businesses is that they don’t have enough time to spend on their marketing. You’ve got your website, blog, email marketing, maybe search engine advertising and search engine optimization … Combine that with all the different social media platforms you ‘must’ be on like Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Yelp, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Instagram, Tumblr and now Vine, and it’s no wonder that many small businesses are so overwhelmed, especially when they have all the day-to-day responsibilities of running a company on their shoulders, too.”
This is why Janine has focused her company on developing marketing tools that are super easy to use right away, even for those who are not tech-savvy. The company also offers pay-as-you-go pricing, where businesses can buy email credits in advance, like postage stamps, so they only pay for what they actually use.
VerticalResponse is known for its efforts in trying to educate small businesses on how to make the most of their marketing and how to prioritize. They crank out tons of guides, webinars, tips and how-to’s on everything from email marketing to social media to SEO. Their award-winning marketing blog is very popular, too. Another unique offering is their non-profit email marketing program, where 501(c)3 organizations can send up to 10,000 emails every month through VerticalResponse, absolutely free.
Janine warns that before small businesses start shopping around for tools, they need to set some goals for their online marketing initiatives. For example, if site traffic is a big deal for you, you definitely need to get hooked up to Google Analytics, which will tell you were your website visitors are coming from. A social media publishing and management tool is great if your goal is to generate more overall awareness of your company. And email marketing is perfect for building relationships and generating sales.
Key internet marketing trends for the next few years
As per Janine, keeping an eye on social media and your engagement with your customers and prospects is going to be huge. You need to keep communicating with your customers in the way they want to be communicated to. If your customers are reading your emails, then make sure you’re testing the best possible subject lines and content that your recipients are looking for. Are they looking for you on Facebook or Twitter? Be there! And if your business is local, make sure your local page on Google+ is the best that it can be.
Building Winning Teams
Here’s Janine’s take on leading a team, “As long as you are clear about who your customer is and your vision, smart people can execute their way to success”. She admits that thanks to an amazing team, she has been able to take a backseat in the day to day running of the business. Instead she focuses her energies on to figuring out what’s next in technology for the business and concentrates on growth.
She is a firm believer in facilitating communication, education and mentorship. A monthly email to staff contains not only departmental updates, but also whether the company is on track to achieving business goals. Employees are encouraged to participate in workshops and tradeshows to show that VerticalResponse is invested in their professional growth.
Advice for other women entrepreneurs
Janine grew up on the East Coast and graduated from Hofstra University with a bachelor’s degree in Communications and English. She concedes that not having an engineering degree and working in a male dominated industry can be challenging. That’s where tenacity comes into play. She says, “If you believe in your dream and your idea, just make it happen, any way you can”.
When not in the office, Janine can be found playing with her adorable pup Dwight, hanging out with her husband on Lake Tahoe or cheering on the Giants! Janine also uses her spare time to contribute as a columnist for Inc.com, the Huffington Post and American Express OPEN Forum.