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For many a day in 2004, three people sat Around a single desk in a tiny medical office — an office which functioned as the team’s conference room, breakfast area, and idea heart. Backed by a little programming team in India, the trio (consisting of Benchmark Internet Group founder Curt Keller, his wife Denise, and an SEO expert) discussed ideas for how to execute a deceptively straightforward idea. Simple email advertising. Many of their ideas were beyond the means of the fledgling business, but that did not stop Keller from moving ahead.
The first Clients of Benchmark Mail were small companies located in near proximity to Benchmark’s one-room HQ in Long Beach, CA. Keller and his team sold them on the usage of email advertising, while working hard to create a very simple user interface that would be easy to operate. All the time, the business championed such innovative ideas as customizable templates and applications which adapted to consumer requirements. They also made sure from the outset that anyone who needed help would have quick access to excellent customer support.
Benchmark Has continued to grow and advantagesper. Its current focus. Providing global email advertising services to small and midsize companies while continuing to honor a commitment to help children in need. This doesn’t indicate that Benchmark is a little-guys-only service, however; it’s stuck to its core principle of adaptability and functions big organizations like UNICEF and Kaiser-Permanente through its High Volume Business plans.
Today, Benchmark serves up of 73,000 users from across the globe, however, the company hasn’t forgotten its origins. Benchmark still keeps good relationships with small, locally-based businesses. In fact, the organization supplies a full page of testimonials from local users of the program. You can read about Benchmark’s background and development here.
While the Majority of the attributes Benchmark provides Are on par with the rest of the business, among the standout features of this ESP is the fact that nearly all its attributes come standard with each account — such as the free ones. Here are some of Benchmark’s most notable offerings.
· Countless Industry-Specific, Themed Templates. Benchmark offers all customers access to its library of over 400 templates. These are organized into 19 categories, some of which are tailored to particular industries like education, entertainment, and retail. There’s also a category for societal media-specific templates.
· Video Emails. Perhaps the best-known advantage of Benchmark is its support for video mails. The business describes the advantages of this attribute here.
· Online Surveys. You’ll be able to create professional-looking online polls using one of Benchmark’s 6 templates. Post your survey on your site or build it into an email.
· Dedicated Email Server. All Benchmark’s High Volume plans have a dedicated IP address to help increase deliverability rates. Users on other plans have the option of paying for this service ($30/month) to increase their own delivery stats. Read more about the benefits of dedicated servers here.
· Email Delivery Management. Benchmark’s email shipping management program is about getting clients’ mails into inboxes. The company is a member of the Email Sender and Provider Coalition and works with ReturnPath, a leading email delivery and consulting support. The business also communicates with ISPs on its customers’ behalf. Free Newsletter Subscription Service
· Mobile App. Benchmark’s mobile programs allow customers having an Apple device to access several functions on the road. They can access and include contacts, browse reportsand send videos via integration using a YouTube account, and even design and send fast email blasts with one of 10 available templates. That is quite a little more than many other businesses offer in their mobile programs, which makes them considerably more functional.
· Photo Editing. If the photos you intend to utilize in your email campaign aren’t perfectly sized or need some colour 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 build your mails from scratch.
· Autoresponder. Each Benchmark customer has the ability to style up to eight custom autoresponder messages. These could be scheduled as a series or event lead-up, or made as annual messages like birthday or anniversary emails.
· Sign-Up Forms. The only way to be successful in email marketing is by way of growing your own list, and Benchmark actually promotes doing this 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 instrument to create custom templates for every medium.
· Inbox Checker. Since every email program is different and every internet browser has a signature fashion, making certain that your emails look great across the board is crucial. It is possible to use Inbox Checker to have a look at the way that your email displays in Gmail using Explorer and Outlook 3. Using the entire app (which checks everything from AOL to Yahoo, Explorer to Safari, mobile to PC) is a paid add-on service, available for $14 per 100 checks.
· RSS-to-Email. Regular bloggers may create newsletters from their sites mechanically through the RSS-to-Email feature, which works with any site which handles an RSS-feed. Users simply need to establish a campaign and template inside Benchmark once.
· API Integration. An API (Application Program Interface) allows different software programs to communicate with one another with no formal plug-in connection. Benchmark’s API Integration feature allows users using XML-RPC, HTTP POST, or HTTP GET skills to retrieve data from other programs that use JSON, XML, XML-RPC, or PHP serialization strings. In brief, this allows them to perform three purposes. Manage contact lists, manage campaigns and campaign sending, and assess data. The business explains this function in more detail here.
· Advanced Metrics. Benchmark provides both Listing 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
Enrolling in a Benchmark accounts is fairly straightforward. After entering your name, email, phone number, and company name, you have to confirm your email address. This was a five-minute process for me. Upon logging in to my new account (with the free program ) I was greeted by an appealing UI that gave me a clear path on the best way best to make my very first email campaign. Great beginning!
Email Campaign Creation
On its dashboard, Benchmark offers users five chief options. Emails, Automations, Contacts, Surveys, and Reports. To create a new campaign, proceed into the Emails segment, then hit the large blue”Create New Mail” button in the top right-hand corner. Free Newsletter Subscription Service
From there, you must decide if you want an RSS Or traditional email message. You can use Benchmark’s drag-and-drop editor, or move for more customization with the built-in code editor. If you’re 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 option.
I had been prompted to enter a subject line for my Email and setup how much observation I wanted on the message, as well as when I wanted an automatic tweet once the campaign went out. The following task was to choose which contacts I wanted to get the campaign. With that, I was finally able to start building the email . If you would like to, you are able to assemble your own email layouts employing a very intuitive editor. On the other hand, you can modify one of Benchmark’s templates, that are great, and better than I was able to do in my.
Sending the Email Campaign
If you are just Starting out, you can do as I did and manually input contacts one at a time. However, for people who already have a listing, there are several ways to import it. You can upload a CSV, xls, or txt file right from your personal computer; import contacts directly from Salesforce.com, Hotmail, or Gmail accounts; or copy and paste huge lists of contacts to a text form. Once you create your Benchmark lists, then they’ll show up on your dashboard, together with a Master Unsubscribe List.
The actual sending of this email is rather simple. When you have finished all your tweaks, you can either save email as a draft, send it immediately, or schedule a time and date for delivery. If you want to verify all is well before unleashing your email about the world, you can 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 automatic system would really be. I scheduled my email for 2.45 and received it in 2.50, therefore while the timing wasn’t exactly ideal, it was probably within tolerance levels for most users. If you are one of the more infrequent users who demand on-the-minute email sending, you may need to look elsewhere. More worryingly, my email did not go to my main inbox but was mechanically sorted into my”promotions” folder. Definitely not ideal.
Email Campaign Reporting
First thing I Discovered about Benchmark email reports was something I would read about in a couple of reviews. They are really, really fast. I mean lightning fast. Opens register in the Benchmark system virtually immediately. I have worked with a lot of other apps where these reports take hours or even days to look.
Benchmark provides users with several key Bits of information about every campaign. The possibly most important statistic, the open speed, seems in both pie graph and numerical form. Additionally, Benchmark supplies users with stats for clicks, forward, bounces, unsubscribes, and misuse. Every stat further breaks down to the exact email addresses associated with a given activity. Users may export this data for additional analysis via a csv or xls file. There is also a social media area which reports shares via Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn, in addition to a map which breaks down, by state, who opens your mails. Free Newsletter Subscription Service
Though all of the information Is Excellent and Necessary, it is not sufficient to sustain increased level marketers that want more information such as conversions, which links were clicked, and earnings analysis. Though Google Analytics provides a lot of this information with appropriate integration, there may come a time when serious marketers need more info than Benchmark provides. Whether or not a small business will reach that point changes, naturally, dependent on the business.
Specific Size Of Company
Benchmark designed its 3-tiered pricing Structure with the goal of serving everybody from the smallest kitchen-table startup to large email marketers. However, the organization’s main focus is on small to medium businesses, especially those just starting out in email advertising. This is especially reflected in the fact that clients subscribing to the medium plans get unlimited mails, while larger plans have constraints.
Integrations and Add-Ons
Benchmark Offers approximately 20 plug-ins and integrations. If you do not see the integration you need, there is still hope. You can use the API or ask a integration by sending an email to [email protected]
· Benchmark Events — Benchmark Occasions is event marketing software designed to integrate fully with Benchmark Email. Launched in 2012, this program permits users to create and customize events, promote and sell tickets, and monitor the success of their events through their Benchmark Email account. A number of subscriptions are available, including a free alternative.
· Salesforce.com — This integration enables users to import contacts directly into Benchmark and utilize Benchmark’s email system to maintain Salesforce customers participated. Read our overview of Salesforce here.
· Twitter — Benchmark Mail Lite is a WordPress plug-in which permits users to quickly build an email audience through their subscribers. The plugin can automatically produce email versions of blog posts and allows users to connect up to five Benchmark accounts.
· Highrise — Merges Highrise contacts with a Benchmark listing. Read our review of Highrisehere.
· Benchmark Power — This free plugin lets you source images for your Benchmark mails from places across the net. Benchmark Power captures images you find and immediately uploads them to a Benchmark accounts for future use.
· Flickr — Users with Flickr accounts may link Flickr to their Benchmark image galleries.
· Shopify — You can link a Shopify account to Benchmark and automatically add Shopify clients to Benchmark lists. You can even add contributors to various lists based on what they bought. Read our overview of Shopify here.
· PayPal — Users can add some of the PayPal clients for their Benchmark email lists bylinking the accounts. Read our review of Paypal here.
· Easy List — Know more about this very simple list-making program and download it here.
· WordPress — The ever-present site and site builder offers an integration with Benchmark. Use it to send emails of your blog articles and use the analytics to observe how your subscribers react to them. Learn more here.
· Zapier — Gain entry to Zapier’s enormous integration library . Free Newsletter Subscription Service
Social Media Integrations
Since Of the key link between social networking and email advertising, it’s important to look at the social media features included in Benchmark.
· Social Media Templates — One section of Benchmark’s massive email template list is made of social media-specific templates which directly promote your company’s involvement in social networking forums like facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.
· Facebook”Like” Button — Benchmark provides a simple function which permits you to add a Facebook”Just Like” button into your own emails.
· Facebook Sign-Up Form — Benchmark supplies easy-to-create sign-up forms (see”Features” above) for both sites and Facebook fan pages, to help you convert followers into subscribers.
· Social Links within Mail — After you link your Benchmark account together with your Facebook, Twitter, and/or LinkedIn accounts, you can add switches to every email that will direct your readers to each of your social networking pages.
The company also fully Complies with all the U.S.-E.U. and U.S.-Swiss Safe Harbor Frameworks regarding the selection of personal data from citizens of these nations. When customers provide credit card amounts to Benchmark, the company utilizes secure socket layer (SSL) security to encrypt the info. The entire system is encrypted to ensure the security of all customers’ personal details.
Anti-Spam Policy and Protection
Like All valid ESPs, Benchmark takes spam seriously and outlines a clear zero-tolerance policy for any of the users hoping to take part in spam activities. The company is fully in compliance with the U.S. CAN-SPAM Act of 2003. Benchmark also takes several measures to maintain its standing as a spam-free supplier, one of them membership in the Email Sender and Provider Coalition. The business uses the app SpamAssassin to filter messages sent through its host.
To stop users from Unknowingly sending spam-like substances, Benchmark provides a spam test feature that looks for words widely used in spam messages. It scores every email on a scale from 1 to 5; 5s are delegated to content that is likely to be blocked. In the event of a high score, the program suggests”less spammy” choices. Individualized IP addresses also assist large-volume senders decrease their spam amounts.
Client Service and Support
Benchmark Offers its customers a lot of support resources. Customer service is usually responsive, with minimal waiting times. The site provides good learning tools, but may be needlessly opaque at times. Key information can be buried and hard to locate, particularly if you don’t know precisely what you’re looking for, particularly when it comes to minute details about plans. As an example. That the Free For Life plan includes Benchmark branding on every email, however you won’t see 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’s mentioned is in the FAQ, here.
Here are some of those resources Benchmark offers. Free Newsletter Subscription Service
· Live Support and Email — Benchmark provides live one-on-one support through the following means.
· Email Service. Contact Benchmark at [email protected] or via the company’s contact form here. Accessible 24 hours Monday — Friday and restricted hours on Saturday.
· Phone Support. You can reach Benchmark in 800-430-4095 (U.S.) or even 001-562-252-3789 (all countries). Available weekdays from 6 am to 5 pm PT.
· Chat Support. Available 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 because it is closer to some QandA-format knowledge foundation than a normal FAQ. You will find more than 900 entries, sorted into 18 topics ranging from”Getting Started” to”API.” Users may execute a keyword search of any topic (or sub-topic) or from their FAQ as a whole. One caveat. With such a comprehensive knowledge base, it is pretty much inevitable that some entries will be out of date. A few of the QandAs offer information that’s wholly incorrect, so in some cases, you may need to contact support to hash things out.
· Video Tutorials and Webinars — Benchmark provides about two dozen video tutorials which take users step by step through the features of the app. The company also offers a webinar called”Benchmark Email Crash Course.” You can view it live each Friday at 10.00 a.m. PST or see the recorded version at any time. You might also request a special webinar on a number of other subjects. Live webinars comprise the opportunity to ask questions during the presentation.
· Email Marketing Manuals and Articles — There are more in-depth details on email marketing generally, as well as the Benchmark program specifically, in the Manuals Section. These downloadable documents also cover industry-specific issues. Articles, similar to sites, offer users advice beyond that found in the FAQ section, but in shorter, more readable chunks than the guides provide.
· Glossary of Email Marketing Terms — This can be a particularly valuable tool for all those brand new to email marketing who feel absorbed by all of the jargon. Benchmark provides a glossarywith 50 of the very popular email advertising conditions from”above-the-fold” to”whitelists.”
· Blog and Newsletter — For current information about email marketing trends, check out Benchmark’s monthly newsletter, as well as its exceptionally active site. All subscribers automatically obtain access to current newsletters, and Benchmark also provides an archive of newsletter posts from November 2007-October 2012.
· Benchmark Community — Benchmark users may post their newest newsletters on message boards at the Benchmark Community. This forum allows users to talk about newsletter production approaches, vote for their favourite newsletters, and gain inspiration from additional Benchmark users.
Web-Based Or Locally-Installed
Benchmark is entirely web-based and does not Require any setup on your computer.
Favorable Reviews and Testimonials
Benchmark Includes a four-out-of-five star score on G2 Crowd, with a slightly better showing on GetApp and Capterra. 4.5 stars each. Free Newsletter Subscription Service
Some common points of praise.
· Top Notch Support. This is maybe the most common monitoring concerning Benchmark, and something I discovered for myself too. People tend to find support prompt and beneficial, and a few say it is actually the element that distinguishes Benchmark from its competitors. The business also receives praise for its blog articles and videos.
· Feature Selection Across All Plans. Some users praise the addition of attributes including AB testing and surveys from most plans; many firms charge extra for such attributes or only include them into their pricier plans.
· Ease of Use. Users have a tendency to locate Benchmark’s interface incredibly intuitive and user-friendly. The program gathers compliments from a wide assortment of demographics, from first time ESP consumers to those who have attempted many different programs before settling on Benchmark.
· Mobile Friendly Emails. Users were impressed with all the mobile-friendly email layout of Benchmark’s templates. Since an increasing number of people access their email from mobile devices, this can be an increasingly important factor to consider.
Negative Reviews and Complaints
I was Unable to find many Men and Women who loathed Their Benchmark experience. But, I managed to discover a couple of complaints.
· Inconsistent Send-Times. Apparently some users experienced an issue with Benchmark where their mails were sent hours after they were scheduled. 1 customer theorized the issue might arise in lengthy lists of recipients. Not all customers of Benchmark will have time-sensitive shipping needs, but others will. Should you need your mails to go out exactly when your program dictates, you may need to take into account this situation.
· Buggy Social Media Integrations. I watched several consumer reviews that remarked the social networking integrations in Benchmark are not up to par.
· “Spammy” Templates. Some users have been concerned that Benchmark’s templates can feel like spam mail, causing recipients to mark them as junk and not studying the contents. Since the whole purpose of an ESP would be to prevent this from happening, this might be an issue. On the flip side, I never felt this way whilst looking through the template list, therefore it may not be the most valid of complaints.
Benchmark Offers a huge variety of pricing plans, such as a free plan and a huge scale of paid plans that may service anywhere between 600 and 7,140,000 subscribers.
Benchmark’s free plans do not require charge Cards, which is always refreshing. The only grab. There will be a small Benchmark logo at the bottom of each email you send out. Of course, you can always choose to upgrade to a paid program if you don’t need the Benchmark branding. The free program permits you to send up to 14000 mails to around 2000 subscribers and provides you access to all but not all of Benchmark’s features list. Notable absences to the attributes list for free account comprise email automation and sub-accounts (enabling multiple users to access one Benchmark account).
Paid Strategies. Free Newsletter Subscription Service
Users with small contacts lists and restricted Monthly messages have the option of paying for their email marketing based on the number of emails they send every month.
o Moderate Plans. 600-50,000 subscribers, $13.99-$254.99 a month
o Large Plans. 55,000-100,000 subscribers, $285.99-$494.99 a month
o Extra Large Plans. 125,000-1,000,000 subscribers, $659.99-$4,273.99 per month
o Massive Plans. 1,070,000-7,140,000 subscribers, $4,500-$29,200 per month
Benchmark accepts all Major charge cards and also allows you to pay through PayPal. They also offer you a 25% reduction for nonprofits and educators.
Benchmark is a solid program. It is easy to use, Open to invention, and competitively priced. Its free alternatives may very well be the best in the company for anyone who only wants to dip into email marketing (especially small, local companies ). For that matter, any Benchmark strategy can work well for a little company which perspectives email as a minor element of its advertising and does not have any desire to work past the principles just yet.
If you are a small or even medium-sized Business looking for a easy email marketing program with a host of amazing features, Benchmark is an excellent option. Though there may come a time when you launch the app, it supplies a great deal for the price, provides exceptional support, and the business appears to be sensitive to the requirements of its users. You can not ask for much more.