Overview Direct Email Advertising
For many an evening in 2004, three people sat Around a single desk in a tiny medical office — an office which functioned as the team’s conference room, lunch room, and thought heart. Backed by a small programming team in India, the trio (consisting of Benchmark Internet Group founder Curt Keller, his wife Denise, and an SEO pro ) discussed ideas on how best to implement a deceptively simple concept. Simple email advertising. Many of the ideas were beyond the resources of this fledgling company, but that didn’t stop Keller from moving ahead.
The first Clients of Benchmark Mail were small businesses located in near proximity to Benchmark’s one-room HQ in Long Beach, CA. Keller and his staff sold them on the usage of email marketing, while working hard to create a simple user interface that would be easy to operate. All the time, the company championed such novel ideas as customizable templates and software which adapted to user requirements. They also made sure from the beginning that anyone who needed help would have quick access to excellent customer support.
Benchmark Has continued to grow and advantagesper. Its present focus. Providing global email marketing solutions to small and medium-sized companies while continuing to honor a commitment to help kids in need. This doesn’t indicate that Benchmark is a little-guys-only service, however; it has stuck to its core principle of adaptability and serves large organizations like UNICEF and Kaiser-Permanente through its High Volume Enterprise plans.
Today, Benchmark serves up of 73,000 users from across the planet, but the company has not forgotten its origins. Benchmark still maintains good relationships with little, locally-based businesses. In reality, the organization supplies a complete page of testimonials from local users of the app. You may read more about Benchmark’s history and development here.
While the Majority of the features Benchmark provides Are on par with the rest of the business, among the standout characteristics of the ESP is the fact that nearly all its attributes come standard with every single accounts — including the free ones. Below are a few of Benchmark’s most notable offerings.
· Countless Industry-Specific, Themed Templates. Benchmark offers all users access to its library of over 400 templates. These are organized into 19 classes, some of which are tailored to particular industries like education, entertainment, and retailstores. There is also a class for social media-specific templates.
· Video Emails. Perhaps the best-known advantage of Benchmark is its support for video emails. The business describes the advantages of this feature here.
· Online Surveys. You’ll be able to create professional-looking online surveys using among Benchmark’s 6 templates. Post your poll on your website or construct it directly into an email.
· Dedicated Email Server. All Benchmark’s High Volume plans have a dedicated IP address to help increase deliverability prices. Users on other plans have the option of paying for this service ($30/month) to increase their own delivery stats. Read more about the advantages of dedicated servers .
· Email Delivery Management. Benchmark’s email shipping management program is about getting customers’ mails into inboxes. The business is a part of the Email Sender and Provider Coalition and works with ReturnPath, a top email delivery and consulting support. The company also communicates with ISPs on its clients’ behalf. Direct Email Advertising
· Mobile App. Benchmark’s mobile programs allow customers with an Apple device to access several functions on the road. They can access and add contacts, browse reportsand send videos through integration using a YouTube account, and even design and send fast email blasts with one of 10 available templates. This is quite a bit more than many other businesses offer on their mobile programs, making them considerably more operational.
· Photo Editing. If the photos you intend to utilize in your email campaign are not perfectly sized or want some color adjustment, you can use Benchmark’s integrated photo editor. This is a pretty handy feature if you don’t have photoshop available.
· Code Editor. In case you have the know-how to work magic with HTML, Benchmark offers this ultra-customization choice with which you may construct your emails from scratch.
· Autoresponder. Each Benchmark customer has the power to style up to eight custom autoresponder messages. These can be scheduled as a series or occasion lead-up, or designed as yearly messages such as birthday or anniversary mails.
· Sign-Up Forms. The only way to be prosperous in email advertising is through growing your own list, and Benchmark actually promotes doing so through sign-up forms. The business bases its Free For Life account completely around website and Facebook sign-ups and provides an easy-to-use tool to create custom templates for every medium.
· Inbox Checker. Since every email program differs and each web browser has a signature fashion, making certain your emails look good across the board is crucial. It is possible to use Inbox Checker to have a look at the way your email displays in Gmail using Explorer and Outlook 3. Using the full app (which checks everything from AOL to Yahoo, Explorer into Safari, mobile to PC) is a paid add-on service, available for $14 per 100 checks.
· RSS-to-Email. Regular bloggers can create newsletters out of their sites automatically through the RSS-to-Email attribute, which works with any blog which manages an RSS-feed. Users only need to set up a campaign and template within Benchmark once.
· API Integration. An API (Application Program Interface) allows different software programs to communicate with one another without a formal plug link. Benchmark’s API Integration feature permits users with XML-RPC, HTTP POST, or HTTP GET skills to retrieve data from some other apps that use JSON, XML, XML-RPC, or PHP serialization strings. In brief, this allows them to play three functions. Manage contact lists, handle campaigns and campaign sending, and assess data. The business describes this role in more detail here.
· Advanced Metrics. Benchmark provides both List Segmentation and AB Split Testing.
· Multiple-Language Interface. Benchmark is offered in seven languages. Chinese, English, German, Japanese, Italian, Portuguese, and Spanish.
Ease Of Use
Signing up for a Benchmark account is pretty straightforward. After entering your name, email, phone number, and business name, you need to confirm your email address. This is a five-minute procedure for me. Upon logging into my account (with the free plan) I was greeted by an appealing UI that gave me a very clear path on how best to create my first email campaign. Good beginning!
Email Campaign Creation
On its dashboard, Benchmark provides users five main choices. Emails, Automations, Contacts, Surveys, and Reports. To make a new effort, go to the Emails section, then hit on the large blue”Create New Email” button at the upper right-hand corner. Direct Email Advertising
From there, you must decide If You Would like an RSS Or classic email message. You can use Benchmark’s drag-and-drop editor, or go for more customization using the built-in code editor. If you are someone who codes their own email, then my hat is off to you, but I am not personally gifted that way, so I moved with the drag-and-drop alternative.
I had been prompted to enter a subject line for my Email and setup how much observation I desired on the message, as well as if I wanted an automatic tweet once the effort went out. The following task was to choose which contacts I wished to receive the campaign. With that, I was finally able to start constructing the email itself. If you would like to, you are able to construct your personal email layouts using a very intuitive editor. On the other hand, you can alter one of Benchmark’s templates, which are great, and better than I managed to do on my own.
Sending the Email Campaign
If you are just Starting out, you can do as I did and manually enter contacts one at a time. However, for people who already have a listing, there are numerous ways to import it. You are able to upload a CSV, xls, or txt file right from your computer; import contacts directly from Salesforce.com, Hotmail, or Gmail accounts; or copy and paste large lists of contacts to a text form. When you make your Benchmark lists, they’ll appear on your dash, together with a Master Unsubscribe List.
The actual sending of the email is quite simple. When you have finished all your tweaks, you may either save email as a draft, send it instantly, or schedule a time and date for delivery. If you would like to check everything is well before distributing your email about the world, it is possible to send it to your self to preview it as many as 10 times/day. I chose to program my email for shipping to see how timely the automated system would actually be. I advised my email for 2.45 and obtained it at 2.50, so while the timing was not exactly perfect, it was likely present in tolerance levels for most users. If you’re one of the more rare users who need on-the-minute email sending, then you may need to appear elsewhere. More worryingly, my email didn’t go to my primary inbox but was automatically sorted into my”promotions” folder. Definitely not ideal.
Mail Campaign Reporting
The first thing I Noticed about Benchmark email reports was something I would read in a few reviews. They are really, really quickly. I mean lightning fast. Opens register in the Benchmark system almost instantaneously. I have worked with a lot of other apps where these reports require hours or even days to appear.
Benchmark provides users with several key Pieces of data about each effort. The possibly most important statistic, the available speed, seems in both pie chart and numerical form. In addition, Benchmark supplies users with stats for clicks, forward, bounces, unsubscribes, and abuse. Each stat further breaks down to the exact email addresses related to a given action. Users can export this information for additional analysis by means of a csv or xls file. There is also a social networking place which reports shares through Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn, in addition to a map that breaks down, by state, that opens your mails. Direct Email Advertising
Though all of this information Is Excellent and Necessary, it isn’t enough to sustain increased level marketers who want more info such as conversions, which links were clicked, and revenue analysis. Though Google Analytics provides a lot of that info with appropriate integration, there may come a time when serious entrepreneurs need more information than Benchmark provides. Whether a small company will get to that point changes, of course, dependent on the business.
Particular Size Of Business
Benchmark made its 3-tiered pricing Structure with the objective of serving everybody from the tiniest kitchen-table startup to large email marketers. However, the organization’s key focus is on small to medium companies, particularly those just beginning in email advertising. This is particularly reflected in the fact that customers subscribing to the medium plans get unlimited mails, while larger plans have limitations.
Integrations and Add-Ons
Benchmark Offers approximately 20 plug-ins and integrations. If you don’t see the integration you need, there is still hope. You’re able to use the API or ask an integration by sending an email to [email protected]
· Benchmark Events — Benchmark Events is event marketing software designed to integrate fully with Benchmark Email. Launched in 2012, this app allows users to make and customize events, promote and market tickets, and monitor the success of the events through their Benchmark Email account. A variety of programs are available, such as a free option.
· Salesforce.com — This integration allows users to import contacts into Benchmark and utilize Benchmark’s email system to keep Salesforce customers participated. Read our overview of Salesforce here.
· WordPress — Benchmark Mail Lite is a WordPress plugin which permits users to quickly build an email audience via their readers. The plugin can automatically produce email variations of blog posts and allows users to connect up to five Benchmark accounts.
· Highrise — Merges Highrise contacts using a Benchmark listing. Read our overview of Highrisehere.
· Benchmark Power — This free plug-in lets you supply pictures for your Benchmark emails from locations across the web. Benchmark Power captures images you find and instantly uploads them to your Benchmark accounts for future usage.
· Flickr — Users with Flickr accounts may link Flickr for their Benchmark image galleries.
· Shopify — You can link a Shopify account to Benchmark and automatically add Shopify customers to Benchmark lists. You may even add subscribers to various lists based on what they bought. Read our review of Shopify here.
· PayPal — Users can add some of their PayPal customers for their own Benchmark email lists bylinking the account. Read our review of Paypal here.
· Easy List — Learn more about this very simple list-making app and download it .
· WordPress — The ever-present blog and site builder provides an integration using Benchmark. Use it to send emails of your blog articles and use the analytics to see how your subscribers respond to them. Learn more here.
· Zapier — Gain access to Zapier’s huge integration library . Direct Email Advertising
Social Media Integrations
Because Of the integral link between social networking and email marketing, it is important to look at the social networking features contained in Benchmark.
· Social Media Templates — One section of Benchmark’s massive email template list is made of societal media-specific templates that directly promote your company’s participation in social networking forums such as Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.
· Facebook”Like” Button — Benchmark offers a simple function which allows you to add a Facebook”Like” button to your own emails.
· Facebook Sign-Up Form — Benchmark supplies easy-to-create sign-up forms (see”Characteristics” above) for both websites and Facebook enthusiast pages, to help you convert followers to subscribers.
· Social Links within Mail — After you connect your Benchmark account with your Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn account, you can add buttons to every email which will direct your readers to each of your social networking pages.
The company also fully Complies with the U.S.-E.U. and U.S.-Swiss Safe Harbor Frameworks regarding the collection of personal data from citizens of these countries. When clients provide credit card amounts to Benchmark, the business utilizes secure socket layer (SSL) protection to encrypt the information. The whole system is encrypted to ensure the safety of customers’ personal details.
Anti-Spam Policy and Protection
Like All valid ESPs, Benchmark takes spam seriously and outlines a clear zero-tolerance coverage for any of their users trying to take part in spam activities. The company is fully in compliance with the U.S. CAN-SPAM Act of 2003. Benchmark additionally takes several steps to preserve its standing as a spam-free provider, one of them membership from the Email Sender and Provider Coalition. The company employs the program SpamAssassin to filter messages sent through its server.
To prevent users from Unknowingly sending spam-like substances, Benchmark provides a spam check feature which looks for words widely utilized in spam messages. It scores every email on a scale from 1 to 5; 5s are delegated to content that’s likely to be blocked. In the event of a top score, the program suggests”less spammy” alternatives. Individualized IP addresses also assist large-volume senders reduce their spam numbers.
Customer Support and Service
Benchmark Offers its customers a great deal of support tools. Customer support is usually responsive, with minimal waiting times. The site provides good learning tools, but may be opaque occasionally. Crucial information is often buried and difficult to locate, particularly in the event that you don’t know precisely what you’re searching for, particularly in regards to minute particulars about strategies. As an example. That the Free For Life plan includes Benchmark branding on each email, but you won’t find that mentioned on the Free For Life page, not even in the fine print. Nor will you see it said when you register. The only place it is mentioned is in the FAQ, here.
Here are some of those resources Benchmark offers. Direct Email Advertising
· Live Support and Email — Benchmark supplies live one-on-one aid through the following means.
· Email Service. Contact Benchmark at [email protected] or through the organization’s contact form . Accessible 24 hours Monday — Friday and limited hours on Saturday.
· Telephone Support. You are able to reach Benchmark at 800-430-4095 (U.S.) or even 001-562-252-3789 (all countries). Available weekdays from 6 am to 5 pm PT.
· Chat Support. Accessible almost 24 hours per day Monday — Friday and limited hours on Saturday. Offered in English, Spanish, Portuguese, and Italian.
· FAQ — Benchmark’s FAQ section is somewhat mislabeled as it is closer to some QandA-format knowledge base than a normal FAQ. You will find over 900 entries, sorted into 18 subjects ranging from”Getting Started” to”API.” Users may perform a keyword search of any topic (or sub-topic) or from the FAQ as a whole. 1 caveat. With such a comprehensive knowledge base, it is pretty much inevitable that some entries will be out of date. Some of the QandAs provide advice that’s wholly inaccurate, so in some cases, you might want to contact assistance to hash things out.
· Video Tutorials and Webinars — Benchmark supplies about two dozen movie tutorials which take users step by step through the features of this app. The company also offers a webinar known as”Benchmark Email Crash Course.” You may view it live each Friday at 10.00 a.m. PST or see the recorded version at any time. You might even ask for a special webinar on quite a few other subjects. Live webinars include the opportunity to ask questions throughout the demonstration.
· Email Marketing Manuals and Articles — There are more in-depth information on email marketing in general, as well as the Benchmark program especially, in the Manuals Section. These downloadable documents also cover industry-specific troubles. Articles, similar to sites, offer users guidance beyond that found in the FAQ section, but in shorter, more digestible chunks than the manuals provide.
· Glossary of Email Marketing Requirements — This can be a particularly helpful tool for all those brand new to email marketing who feel absorbed by all of the jargon. Benchmark gives a glossarywith 50 of the most popular email advertising conditions from”above-the-fold” to”whitelists.”
· Website and Newsletter — For current information about email marketing trends, check out Benchmark’s monthly newsletter, in addition to its extremely active blog. All subscribers automatically obtain access to present newsletters, and Benchmark also offers an archive of newsletter posts from November 2007-October 2012.
· Benchmark Community — Benchmark users may post their latest newsletters on message boards at the Benchmark Community. This forum allows users to discuss newsletter production approaches, vote for their favorite newsletters, and gain inspiration from other Benchmark users.
Web-Based Or Locally-Installed
Benchmark is entirely web-based and doesn’t Require any setup on your computer.
Positive Reviews and Testimonials
Benchmark Has a four-out-of-five star rating on G2 Crowd, with a slightly better showing on GetApp and Capterra. 4.5 stars each. Direct Email Advertising
Some common points of compliments.
· Top Notch Support. This is perhaps the most common observation regarding Benchmark, and something I discovered for myself as well. People today tend to find support prompt and helpful, and some say it’s actually the component that distinguishes Benchmark from its rivals. The business also receives praise for its blog posts and videos.
· Characteristic Selection Across All Aims . Some users praise the addition of attributes including AB analyzing and surveys in all programs; many companies charge extra for these features or only include them in their pricier plans.
· Ease of Use. Users have a tendency to find Benchmark’s interface extremely intuitive and user-friendly. The program gathers compliments from a wide assortment of demographics, from first-time ESP consumers to people who have attempted many different programs before settling Benchmark.
· Mobile Friendly Emails. Consumers were impressed with all the mobile-friendly email layout of Benchmark’s templates. Since more and more people access their email from mobile devices, this can be an increasingly important factor to take into account.
Negative Reviews and Complaints
I was not able to find many people who loathed Their own Benchmark experience. However, I was able to discover a few complaints.
· Inconsistent Send-Times. Apparently some users experienced a problem with Benchmark where their emails were sent hours when they were scheduled. One customer theorized the issue might arise in lengthy lists of recipients. Not all customers of all Benchmark will possess time-sensitive shipping needs, but others will. Should you need your emails to go out precisely whenever your schedule dictates, you may need to take into account this issue.
· Buggy Social Media Integrations. I saw several user testimonials that commented the social networking integrations in Benchmark are not up to par.
· “Spammy” Templates. Some users were concerned that Benchmark’s templates can feel like spam email, causing receivers to mark them as spam rather than reading the contents. Since the whole point of an ESP is to stop this from occurring, this may be a problem. On the flip side, I never felt this way whilst searching through the template list, so it might not be the most valid of complaints.
Benchmark Provides a enormous variety of pricing strategies, including a totally free plan and a huge scale of paid programs which may service anywhere between 600 and 7,140,000 subscribers.
Benchmark’s free plans do not require credit Cards, which is always refreshing. The only grab. There’ll be a small Benchmark logo in the bottom of each email you send out. Obviously, you can always choose to upgrade to a paid program in case you don’t need the Benchmark branding. The free program allows you to send up to 14000 mails to up to 2000 subscribers and provides you access to all but not all of Benchmark’s features list. Notable absences into the attributes list for free accounts comprise email automation and sub-accounts (allowing multiple users to get one Benchmark accounts ).
Paid Plans. Direct Email Advertising
Users with little contacts lists and limited Monthly messages have the option of paying to get their email marketing based on the number of emails that they send every month.
o Moderate Plans. 600-50,000 subscribers, $13.99-$254.99 per month
o Large Strategies. 55,000-100,000 subscribers, $285.99-$494.99 per month
o Extra Large Strategies. 125,000-1,000,000 subscribers, $659.99-$4,273.99 a month
o Enormous Plans. 1,070,000-7,140,000 subscribers, $4,500-$29,200 a month
Benchmark accepts all Major charge cards and also allows you to pay through PayPal. They also offer a 25% discount for nonprofits and teachers.
Benchmark is a good program. It is Simple to Use, Open to invention, and competitively priced. Its free options might just be the best in the company for anybody who only wants to dip into email marketing (particularly small, local businesses). For that matter, any Benchmark strategy can work well for a little business which perspectives email as a minor aspect of its marketing and does not have any desire to operate past the principles just yet.
If you are a little or maybe medium-sized Company trying to find a simple email marketing program with a host of amazing features, Benchmark is an exceptional choice. Though there may come a time when you launch the app, it provides a lot for the money, provides excellent service, and the business appears to be sensitive to the requirements of its users. You can’t ask for much more.