So you’re considering taking a subscription for Vendasta? Hold on… First read my thorough Vendasta Review before proceeding in paying thousands of dollars.
This article will fully explain my experience with Vendasta and why I don’t recomment Vendasta to you as Marketing Agency Owner, if you’re serious about your business.
I wrote this article after a really bad experience with Vendasta and I am now trying to prevent other marketing agency owners from making the same mistakes I did during my career as agency owner.
One of those mistakes was taking a Premium Enterprise subscription to Vendasta, the company with the tagline: “The Vendasta platform empowers agencies with the tools and resources they need to become a cloud-based, full-stack provider of digital marketing solutions for local businesses.“
Basically Vendasta promises agency owners that they will be empowered with a great set of new digital marketing tools and solutions to serve their clients. I think that word ’empowered’ is perhaps suitable for some agency owners, but definitely not for all of them.
Let’s dive in.
Reason 1: Vendasta’s Poor Translations looks extremely Unprofessional (for non-English local businesses)
Agency Owners need to be able to serve their target customers in their own language. I think everyone agrees that you should always sell products and services to your clients in their own language. This feels most natural to them and increases your chances of landing that client.
To start this Vendasta Review with a first shortcoming: this is one of the biggest ones. The translations on the platform are poorly done. The Dutch translation we get is full with spelling mistakes and has several English words still mixed into it.
If you don’t have a Dutch platform, fine. But if you put translations online, why don’t you perfect it first before releasing, Vendasta?
Translated with Google Translate or Deepl?
The Vendasta Business App (which is available for your Agency Clients) is available in Dutch (Nederlands), German (which Vendasta thinks is the language we speak in Belgium, according to the screenshot), English, Canadian French, French French and Czech.
Unfortunately these languages are created with Google Translate, Deepl or similar translation services.
A second thought: Marketing Agency Owners can also sell copywriting services to their clients with the white labeled Vendasta Business Dashboard. Prospects have to use this dashboard to order such services, but they probably would never place a copywriting order, given all the linguistic mistakes.
Would you ever trust a copywriter who isn’t capable of avoiding spelling mistakes on his/her own website?
Hence, this translation issue is a big one for anyone using Vendasta with a non-native English market. Think of German agency owners, French agency owners, Dutch agency owners, Spanish agency owners and so on. You should all think twice before considering selling your services through Vendasta.
As good as the Vendasta platform might be for native English markets (there are also many Americans and Canadians very positive about Vendasta), working with it and showing the world your translated dashboard with built-in spelling mistakes might hurt your credibility as European agency owner, as you run the Vendasta platform white labeled in your own name and with your own logo.
By using the Vendasta white label marketing platform with these language problems, your clients might not take your business serious
So again, you wouldn’t be taken seriously with a dashboard that looks like what you see in the screenshot further below. The spelling mistakes and mixed-in English words make the dashboard look everything but legit.
Client’s suspicion will only raise by seeing this dashboard.
In its current translated stage, the platform will not guarantee any new sales coming in. As the spelling mistakes are everywhere, most of your prospects would not trust your business. And would question your capabilities to write and code, as Vendasta is white labeled – which will point all the arrows in your direction.
Even crucial CTA fields are still not translated
The Client Dashboard gives an overview of all your services. Your clients can place an order in the Client Dashboard and even pay. In essence this Client Dashboard should be fully optimized for conversion.
In the Client Dashboard any client can select a service they’re interested in, or willing to buy, and place the order by clicking a ‘GET IT NOW’ button.
That specific button is not translateable with the built-in translation editor (which might seem like a detail, but isn’t). Other areas are customizeable (like the main description field) but the CTA button text will always stay ‘GET IT NOW’.
If you would read a CTA button with the tekst: “COMMANDEZ” or “BESTEL NU” – would you be conviced to click it?
These example CTA’s are written in French and Dutch and might not be a language you speak. But as Agency serving local businesses in France, Germany, Belgium or the Netherlands, not all of our Clients are fluent in English. For some of them, this ‘GET IT NOW’ button could be a dealbreaker.
To users without English knowledge, the ‘GET IT NOW’ button gives the same amount of click trust as ‘COMMANDEZ’ or ‘BESTEL NU’ gives native English speakers enough confidence to click it and trust the source.
Inconsistencies like spelling mistakes could ring the prospect’s alarm bells. The average internet user is more and more trained in detecting fraudulent websites. Spelling mistakes and translation mistakes are big signals that a platform might not be professional and potentially fraudulent.
I contacted Vendasta Support to address the issue with the translation and they confirmed this. It’s an issue that will not be dealt with in the near future, according to their answer.
I think this is a crucial feature and I believe non-English users would better not even be allowed to take paid subscriptions to Vendasta, as it’s not made for non-English users.
Reason 2: The client-side URL doesn’t look trustworthy
This brings me to the second part of this Vendasta review: the Vendasta’s Business App (this is your “Shop” on which you let your customers buy services from you – it’s not a real App) has an unprofessional looking URL.
Let me show you a screenshot below.
I mean, would you ever buy from an e-commerce platform where the URL looks like that?
I wish I could just write in this Vendasta Review that they have a Custom URL feature.
Why the URL matters so much
Here are some of the positive effects of a branded URL (source: Appsflyer)
- Delivers brand consistency – URLs should echo and emphasize your brand name; just as important, a link that does not include your brand name can impact brand equity negatively.
- Promotes the brand – One of the biggest benefits of branded links is that your brand, not a generic or potentially suspicious link, marks your campaign.
- Fosters trust – Users are more likely to click on branded links (e.g., in SMS, social media, etc.), while email validation systems are more likely to consider emails containing branded links as valid promotion emails.
Reason 3: Vendasta promises it’s reseller marketing services are eligible for selling in Belgium (but most of these services aren’t)
In the ‘Discover Products’ area (where you can add new Services to your virtual Agency Store where your clients could place orders) you will find an advanced filter function where you could pick, for example, Belgium, among many other countries.
Suggesting Belgium as a search filter, and showing 96 products/services as a result, implies that these products are available for Belgian marketing agencies and eligible for selling on that territory, right?
I make the distinction between the words ‘availability’ and ‘eligibility’ because these 96 services are indeed available in Belgium (you can pay for them which makes them available) but – in many cases – will never qualify to be sold to local business clients in Belgium.
That makes this number 96 very misleading.
You could ask yourself: why are products that are not saleable in Belgium included in this product index for Belgium? Because the number 96 looks impressive? Or because it boosts the membership sales?
Belgium is not the United States
Belgium is a small European country where people speak both French and Dutch and where many large tech companies don’t provide their services, simply because scaling any kind of tech business is not easy in small countries – especially not in countries with a small population and with 2 languages to support.
Most of these tech providers, Bing Places for Business for example, that competes with Google My Business, honestly state that Belgium is not yet supported, which is clear and transparent, and doesn’t set false expectations. Bing just writes: “Country not supported” and that’s the end of it.
The Vendasta Marketplace, however, suggests in the ‘Discover Products’ area that many services that are available in Belgium. The option to filter Services per country suggests that any Marketing Agency Owner in that country indeed could leverage his or her business by signing up to Vendasta.
This is one of the main reasons why I took a subscription to Vendasta as Enterprise Member, which involved a minimum engagement of 12 months.
Obviously I wouldn’t have committed to 12 monthly payments of 350USD, had I known what I learned now the hard way:
Most of these advertised features will never be saleable in Belgium.
Let me show you and analyze a few examples from these 96 products in the table below.
|Service Name||Available in Belgium according to Vendasta||Dutch language required for Agency use||Could we use it in our Belgian marketing agency?|
|4 Blog Posts Monthly||YES||YES||NO (language barrier)|
|8 Blog Posts Monthly||YES||YES||NO (language barrier)|
|ActiveCampaign||YES||NO||YES (our clients don’t expect this to be Dutch)|
|Advanced Reporting||YES||YES||NO – we can not report in English to our non-English speaking clients|
|Blog Package (Textbroker)||YES||YES||YES – if we hire an extra copywriter to proof read all deliveries from Textbroker, which consumes more time than organizing the copywriting entirely ourselves.|
|Conversion Audit & Optimize||YES||YES||NO – the call with an CRO expert (included in this package) is in English.|
|Corporate Identity Package||YES||NO||YES|
|Custom Brochure Design||YES||YES||YES – but a Translator will be needed to communicate the design CTA’s etcetera to the Designer. We will still need to hire a designer.|
|Digital Ads: Facebook & Instagram||YES||YES||NO – to run successful Facebook Ads you need to understand your target audience and speak their language.|
|Digital Ads: Google & Bing||YES||YES||NO – to run successful Google Ads you need someone who can write very effective Text Ads in Dutch.|
Each product/service has specific marketing material. For English markets only.
By the way, if you want to sell the Vendasta services to your clients, some awesome Sales templates await you in the Vendasta Marketplace. You can easily use these templates, change the logo and send it out to new clients…
If your clients master English at a native level.
If you’re serving a non-English speaking market, you will have to translate all these documents yourself or never use them.
Reason 4: Vendasta is way more expensive than purchasing the services directly from their source
The promise of Vendasta that you can buy services at a “wholesale” price is untrue. I will use the example of Textbroker: one of the many services you can Enable on Vendasta (after which the billing will be activated immediately, so don’t make the mistake of clicking that blue button too fast).
The Textbroker Blog Package of 12 customized 400-word blog posts are sold here at “wholesale” price: 480$ (roughly €396 – 1 euro converts to 1,21$ according to Currency Converter XE.com at the moment of this writing).
I made the effort of simulating this exact order on www.textbroker.nl myself and discovered that the real wholesale cost is €120 for 12 Customized Blog Posts with a 4-star quality.
Besides, it’s impossible to just trust these blog posts. Textbroker only works if there is someone in the team checking every Blog Post submitted (because not all writers deliver the same quality). This double check will not be done by Vendasta.
In other words: if you sell Copywriting Services to your Dutch or Belgian clients and use Vendasta here, you will still end up doing manual work of checking every blog post (if you’re invested in delivering quality for your clients).
Reason 5: You will Pay, and Pay More, and More
For every tool or service you enable on Vandasta, with the easy-to-push ‘Enable’ button in the corner of each product page, you will start receiving invoices.
Given the rather chaotic structure of Vendasta, you will probably have a hard time distinguishing the included features from the paid features. When paying a high monthly Vendasta membership fee, you might expect to be able to use many free tools, right?
That is far from the truth – almost all features in Vendasta are paid.
Of course we understand that third party services can never be free, but still there lacks a possibility to test out certain products or services. When you’d buy a new car, you would also first test ride it, right?
Imagine that car dealer presenting you a bill for your test drive. You’d probably buy this car elsewhere.
Incorporating new services as a marketing agency requires testing
As an agency you try to grow your services list to maximize your service towards your clients. It’s normal that we test all tools there exist: i.e. Rocketium Video Maker, Google Workspace or ActiveCampaign – one of the many Products that are available for Belgium in the Vendasta Marketplace.
But here’s the thing: you are not able to test drive these tools in Vendasta. From the moment you sign up to use these tools, billing will start – and it seems that for every small amount you will receive a separate invoice in your mailbox.
I even got invoices for 2USD each for running a ‘Snapshot’ (= marketing report) of a website. A service I thought would be included for free, as it’s part of Vendasta, but it wasn’t free.
Bottom line: you will get charged additionally for almost every small feature you use in Vendasta. Below a screenshot of one of the many invoices I got for using the Snapshot Feature in Vendasta.
(read further below the image)
How about test riding other Vendasta Marketplace Tools & Software?
I asked Vendasta’s Support about the possibilities to test the software that’s available in the Marketplace before making a purchase, for example.
If you subscribe to them with Vendasta, you will pay $70 for Rocketium, $63.25 Google Workspace or $9.75 for ActiveCampaign. STARTING NOW.
Are you also an Agency manager who likes to actually test your outsourced service offerings first before selling it to your clients? Then you will still have to go directly with any platform that integrated with Vendasta – whereas the main USP of Vendasta was that we have everything available in one marketplace…
And here is the dilemma.
You either test all Vendasta integrated services yourself (and pay a lot of money), not sure whether or not you will implement each of those services after the test. Or you just don’t test anything and start selling it to your customers (and use your clients as test cases, potentially harming your client relationship).
I made an enquiry about this at Vendasta Support and here was my answer.
The Expensive Enterprise or Scale Plan won’t protect you from Unexpected Invoices
When paying a lot of money for the monthly Vendasta Membership (which is already expensive enough) you would expect the previously mentioned Premium features to be free, right?
Besides, the Membership Plan I took and based this Vendasta Review on, was the highest level (equal to what is advertised as the Growth Plan on the Vendasta Sales Page). It costs $1150 in the monthly plan with a setup fee of $1500.
I got a similar plan which they call ‘Enterprise’ and allegedly has even more features than what the Growth plan. I was sold this plan by Quantum Agency, which resells Vendasta services. Call it an agency for agencies: providing all tools and software that help agency owners to grow and scale.
Apparently the ‘Enterprise plan’ was highly exclusive, sold by Quantum Agency alone, allowing members even more advantages in the Vendasta platform.
I even got a large discount. Where this type of membership would “normally cost XYZ amount of dollars”, now it was available for only $350 a month. And I would get all benefits that were sold in the public Growth Plan of $1150 a month + $1500 onboarding fee. And even more features than that.
It sounded so good – I had to try this and take the risk. This exclusive type of membership would allow me to use the platform without any limitations, because the free plan I already had obviously had many limitations and didn’t allow to fully understand how Vendasta works or could benefit my business.
Until I noticed the previously mentioned problems AND saw several new invoices coming in for absolutely no extra return in terms of new clients, or an improved service to my existing clients.
In other words, the Vendasta business model as I’ve experienced it, was an untransparent model that mainly helps them grow themselves in very subtle ways, instead of their agency partners that pay high membership fees.
Don’t take my word for it. You can read plenty of Vendasta Reviews on these websites:
Overall: the Vendasta Platform is confusing and untransparant
It’s very easy to get lost in Vendasta (as Agency Owner or as Client). Before you know it, you subscribed to some paying service you didn’t ask for, and you’ll first notice it when the first invoices appear in your mailbox.
Switching between products is awkward, and at times the whole thing feels Frankensteined together. It requires a big learning curve, which is why a lot of partners rely on Do It For Me services.Vendasta Review from Devon Hennig, ex-head of marketing of Vendasta, read it here on his blog
I signed up at Vendasta because they made a clear promise: they are here to help my Agency scale its business. However, the opposite seems true for any agency operating in a non-English speaking environment.
It’s still unclear to me where the added value of Vendasta lies. Vendasta explains very enthusiastically what they do and it all sounds great!
But most things that are wrong with Vendasta only come to the surface after you’ve signed up and made some big financial commitments.
First of all, the premium monthly / yearly pricing of Vendasta is expensive. For that money you don’t expect invoices coming in for built-in Vendasta features that are not sold by a third party.
Secondly, the white label pricing communication is vague and untransparant. All third party services that are integrated in the platform are sold at “Wholesale” prices (that’s how Vendasta calls it internally).
With “Wholesale price” you would expect a negotiated lower bulk price, which would be lower than the commercial price you’d find if you go directly, right? Were this true, this would greatly justify the high monthly Vendasta membership fees.
But the prices in Vendasta appear to be more expensive than if you’d go directly with these external software and service providers. Should you decide to start reselling these services to your client base, with an added margin to it, you will have a very expensive agency. Given the high prices you’d have to charge, your clients will follow your work very closely. And if you then deliver them results that are below average… You will easily lose your client and burn your agency’s reputation.
Last but not least: Vendasta is a company that apparently likes to keep clients on board that aren’t satisfied. At the moment of this writing there still runs a dispute between me and Vendasta, whereas they could also just have simply allowed my plan to cancel, and I would have never written a Vendasta Review about it. That kind of behaviour is not common in the B2B SaaS industry and raises a lot of questions.
In summary, the impression can’t escape me that it seems that mainly the Agency Owners help Vendasta to scale and not the other way around.
Hence remains the question unanswered: what is the real added value of Vendasta? Based on my experience I could find no convincing arguments to answer that question.