Overview Icontact Email Marketing
For many an evening in 2004, three people sat Around a single desk in a small medical office — an office which served as the team’s conference room, lunch room, and thought hub. Backed by a little programming group in India, the trio (comprising Benchmark Internet Group founder Curt Keller, his wife Denise, and an search engine optimization expert) discussed ideas on how best to implement a deceptively simple idea. Simple email advertising. Many of their thoughts were beyond the means of this fledgling business, but that didn’t stop Keller from planning ahead.
The first Customers of Benchmark Mail were small companies located in near proximity to Benchmark’s one-room HQ in Long Beach, CA. Keller and his staff personally sold them on the usage of email advertising, while working hard to make a simple user interface which would be simple to operate. All the time, the business championed such innovative ideas as customizable templates and applications which adapted to user needs. They also made certain from the beginning that anyone who needed help would have rapid access to outstanding customer care.
Benchmark Has continued to rise and advantagesper. Its present focus. Providing worldwide email marketing services to small and medium-sized businesses 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 large organizations like UNICEF and Kaiser-Permanente via its High Volume Business plans.
Today, Benchmark serves upwards of 73,000 users from across the globe, however, the company hasn’t forgotten its origins. Benchmark still maintains good relationships with little, locally-based companies. In reality, the organization offers 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 features Benchmark supplies Are on par with the rest of the industry, among the standout characteristics of this ESP is the fact that nearly all its features come standard with each account — including the free ones. Here are a few of Benchmark’s most noteworthy offerings.
· Countless Industry-Specific, Themed Templates. Benchmark offers all customers access to its library of over 400 templates. These are organized into 19 classes, some of which are tailored to specific industries like education, entertainment, and retail. There’s also a class for social media-specific templates.
· Video Emails. Perhaps the best-known benefit of Benchmark is its support for video mails. The business describes the advantages of this attribute here.
· Online Surveys. You can create professional-looking online surveys using one of Benchmark’s 6 templates. Post your survey on your site or construct it directly into an email.
· Dedicated Email Server. All Benchmark’s High Volume programs have a dedicated IP address to help increase deliverability rates. Users on other plans have the choice of paying for this service ($30/month) to increase their own delivery stats. Read more about the benefits of dedicated servers .
· Email Delivery Management. Benchmark’s email delivery management program is about getting clients’ emails into inboxes. The company is a member of the Email Sender and Provider Coalition and works with ReturnPath, a top email delivery and delivery service. The company also communicates with ISPs on its clients’ behalf. Icontact Email Marketing
· Mobile App. Benchmark’s mobile apps allow customers having an Apple device to get several purposes on the street. They can access and add contacts, browse reports, send videos through integration using a YouTube account, and even design and send quick email blasts with one of 10 available templates. That is quite a little more than many other companies offer on their mobile apps, which makes them considerably more functional.
· Photo Editing. If the photos you plan to utilize on your email campaign aren’t perfectly sized or want some color adjustment, you may use Benchmark’s integrated picture editor. This is a fairly handy feature if you do not have photoshop available.
· Code Editor. If you’ve got the know-how to work magic with HTML, Benchmark provides this ultra-customization choice with which you can build your emails from scratch.
· Autoresponder. Every Benchmark customer has the power to style around eight custom autoresponder messages. These could be scheduled as a string or event lead-up, or made as yearly messages such as anniversary or birthday emails.
· Sign-Up Types . The only way to be prosperous in email marketing is through growing your own list, and Benchmark really 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 tool to create customized templates for each medium.
· Inbox Checker. Because every email program is different and every web browser includes a signature style, making certain that your emails look great across the board is important. It is possible to use Inbox Checker to look at the way your email displays in Gmail using Explorer and Outlook 3. Employing the entire program (which assesses everything out of AOL to Yahoo, Explorer into Safari, mobile to PC) is a paid add-on provider, available for $14 each 100 checks.
· RSS-to-Email. Regular bloggers may create newsletters out of their blogs mechanically through the RSS-to-Email feature, which works with any blog which manages an RSS-feed. Users simply need to set up a template and campaign inside Benchmark once.
· API Integration. An API (Application Program Interface) allows different software programs to communicate with one another without a formal plug-in link. Benchmark’s API Integration feature permits users using XML-RPC, HTTP POST, or HTTP GET skills to recover data from some other programs which 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 check statistics. The business describes 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.
Benefits Of Use
Signing up for a Benchmark account is fairly straightforward. After entering your name, email, phone number, and company name, you need to confirm your email address. This was a five-minute process for me. Upon logging in to my account (using the free program ) I was greeted by an appealing UI that gave me a clear direction on how best to create my very first email campaign. Good start!
Email Campaign Creation
On its dashboard, Benchmark provides users five chief choices. Emails, Automations, Contacts, Surveys, and Reports. To create a new campaign, proceed to the Emails section, then hit the large blue”Create New Mail” button in the upper right-hand corner. Icontact Email Marketing
From there, you have to decide If You Would like an RSS Or classic email message. It is possible to use Benchmark’s drag-and-drop editor, or go for more customization with 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 option.
I was motivated to enter a subject line for my Email and setup how much observation I wanted on the message, as well as if I wanted an automated tweet when the campaign went out. The following task was to select which contacts I wished to receive the campaign. With that, I was finally able to start constructing the email . If you would like to, you can assemble your personal email layouts using a very intuitive editor. On the flip side, you can alter one of Benchmark’s templates, that are great, and better than I was able to do in my.
Sending the Email Campaign
If You’re just Starting out, you can certainly do as I did and manually input contacts at a time. However, for those who already have a list, there are several ways to import it. You can upload a CSV, xls, or txt file directly 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 type. Once you make your Benchmark lists, then they will show up on your dashboard, along with a Master Unsubscribe List.
The actual sending of this email is quite easy. When you’ve finished all your tweaks, you can either save the email as a draft, send it instantly, or schedule a time and date for delivery. If you want to verify everything is well before unleashing your email on the planet, 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 really be. I scheduled my email for 2.45 and received it in 2.50, so while the timing was not exactly perfect, it was likely within tolerance levels for most users. If you are among the more infrequent users who need on-the-minute email sending, you might need to appear elsewhere. More worryingly, my email didn’t go to my main inbox but was mechanically sorted in my”promotions” folder. Definitely not perfect.
Email Campaign Reporting
The first thing I Discovered about Benchmark email reports was something I’d read about in a few reviews. They are really, really fast. I mean lightning fast. Opens register in the Benchmark system virtually instantaneously. I have worked with several different programs where these reports take hours or even days to look.
Benchmark provides users with several key Pieces of data about every campaign. The arguably most important statistic, the available rate, seems in both pie chart and numerical type. Additionally, Benchmark provides users with stats for clicks, forwards, bounces, unsubscribes, and misuse. Each stat further breaks down to the specific 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 area which reports shares via Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn, in addition to a map which breaks down, by country, who opens your emails. Icontact Email Marketing
Though all of the information Is Excellent and Necessary, it is not sufficient to sustain higher level marketers who want more information such as conversions, which hyperlinks were clicked, and earnings analysis. Although Google Analytics provides a whole lot of that info with appropriate integration, there might come a time when serious marketers need more info than Benchmark provides. Whether a small business will get to that point changes, naturally, dependent on the company.
Particular 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 company’s key focus is on small to medium businesses, particularly those just beginning in email marketing. This is particularly reflected in the reality that clients subscribing to the medium plans get unlimited mails, while bigger plans have constraints.
Integrations and Add-Ons
Benchmark Offers roughly 20 plug-ins and integrations. If you don’t observe the integration you need, there’s still hope. You can 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 program permits users to create and customize occasions, promote and market tickets, and monitor the success of their events via their Benchmark Email account. A number of subscriptions are available, such as a free option.
· Salesforce.com — This integration allows users to import contacts into Benchmark and use Benchmark’s email system to maintain Salesforce customers engaged. Read our overview of Salesforce here.
· WordPress — Benchmark Email Lite is a WordPress plug-in which allows users to quickly build an email viewer through their readers. The plug-in can automatically create email versions of blog posts and permits 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 allows you to supply pictures for your Benchmark mails from places throughout the web. Benchmark Power captures pictures you locate and immediately uploads them to your Benchmark accounts for future usage.
· Flickr — Users with Flickr accounts can link Flickr for their own Benchmark image galleries.
· Shopify — You are able to link a Shopify accounts to Benchmark and mechanically add Shopify customers to Benchmark lists. You may even add subscribers to different lists based on which products they bought. Read our overview of Shopify here.
· PayPal — Users may add some of the PayPal customers to their own Benchmark email lists bylinking the accounts. Read our review of Paypal here.
· Easy List — Learn more about this very simple list-making program and download it here.
· WordPress — The ever-present site and site builder provides an integration using Benchmark. Use it to send emails of your blog posts and use the analytics to observe how your subscribers respond to them. Learn more here.
· Zapier — Gain access to Zapier’s huge integration library here. Icontact Email Marketing
Social Media Integrations
Since Of the integral link between social media and email marketing, it’s important to check out the social media features contained in Benchmark.
· Social Media Templates — One segment of Benchmark’s massive email template list is made of social 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 permits you to add a Facebook”Just Like” button to your emails.
· Facebook Sign-Up Form — Benchmark supplies easy-to-create sign-up forms (see”Features” above) for both sites and Facebook enthusiast pages, to help you convert followers to readers.
· Social Links within Mail — After you link your Benchmark account together with your Facebook, Twitter, and/or LinkedIn account, you can add switches to each email that will direct your subscribers to each of your social networking pages.
The Business also fully Complies with all the U.S.-E.U. and U.S.-Swiss Safe Harbor Frameworks concerning the selection of personal data from citizens of these nations. When customers provide credit card amounts to Benchmark, the company uses secure socket layer (SSL) security to encrypt the information. The whole system is encrypted to ensure the security of customers’ personal information.
Anti-Spam Policy and Protection
Like All legitimate ESPs, Benchmark takes junk seriously and summarizes a clear zero-tolerance policy for any of their users trying to take part in spam activities. The business is fully in compliance with the U.S. CAN-SPAM Act of 2003. Benchmark additionally takes several measures to preserve 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 server.
To stop users from Unknowingly sending spam-like materials, Benchmark provides a spam check feature which looks for words commonly used in spam messages. It scores each email on a scale from 1 to 5; 5s are assigned to content that’s very likely to be blocked. In case of a top score, the program suggests”less spammy” alternatives. Individualized IP addresses also assist large-volume senders decrease their spam numbers.
Customer Support and Service
Benchmark Offers its customers a great deal of support resources. Customer service is usually responsive, with minimal waiting times. The site offers good learning tools, but may be needlessly opaque occasionally. Key information is often buried and hard to find, especially in the event that you don’t know exactly what you’re searching for, particularly when it comes to minute details 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 webpage, not even in the fine print. Nor will you see it said when you sign up. The only place it’s mentioned is in the FAQ, here.
Here are some of those resources Benchmark offers. Icontact Email Marketing
· Live Support and Email — Benchmark provides live one-on-one aid through these means.
· Email Support. Contact Benchmark at [email protected] or via the company’s contact form . Accessible 24 hours Monday — Friday and limited hours on Saturday.
· Telephone Support. You are able to reach Benchmark in 800-430-4095 (U.S.) or 001-562-252-3789 (all states ). 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’s closer to a QandA-format knowledge foundation than a typical FAQ. There are over 900 entries, sorted into 18 topics ranging from”Getting Started” to”API.” Users can execute a key word search of any topic (or sub-topic) or of their FAQ as a whole. One caveat. With such an extensive knowledge base, it’s pretty much inevitable that some entries are going to be out of date. Some of the QandAs provide information that’s wholly incorrect, so in some cases, you may want to contact support to hash things out.
· Video Tutorials and Webinars — Benchmark supplies about two dozen movie tutorials that take users step by step through the features of the program. The business also offers a webinar known as”Benchmark Mail Crash Course.” You can view it live each Friday at 10.00 a.m. PST or watch the recorded version at any time. You can even ask for a particular webinar on quite a few different subjects. Live webinars comprise the opportunity to ask questions throughout the presentation.
· Email Marketing Manuals and Articles — There are more in-depth information on email marketing in general, as well as the Benchmark program especially, at the Manuals Section. These downloadable files also cover industry-specific troubles. Articles, very similar to sites, offer users advice 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 new to email marketing who feel absorbed by all of the jargon. Benchmark provides a glossarywith 50 of the very popular email marketing terms from”above-the-fold” to”whitelists.”
· Website and Newsletter — For current info regarding email marketing trends, check out Benchmark’s monthly newsletter, in addition to its exceptionally active site. All subscribers automatically gain access to present 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 in the Benchmark Community. This forum allows users to talk about newsletter production approaches, vote for their favorite newsletters, and gain inspiration from additional Benchmark users.
Web-Based Or Locally-Installed
Benchmark is entirely web-based and does not Require any installation on your PC.
Favorable Reviews and Reviews
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. Icontact Email Marketing
Some common points of praise.
· Top Notch Support. This is maybe the most typical observation concerning Benchmark, and some thing I discovered for myself as well. People today tend to find support prompt and helpful, and some say it is really the element that distinguishes Benchmark from its competitors. The business also receives praise for its website articles and videos.
· Characteristic Selection Across All Plans. Some users praise the addition of features like AB analyzing and surveys from all plans; many companies charge extra for such features or only include them into their pricier plans.
· Benefits of Use. Users have a tendency to find Benchmark’s interface incredibly user-friendly and intuitive. The program gathers praise from a wide assortment of demographics, from first time ESP consumers to those who have tried 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 more and more people access their email from mobile devices, this is an increasingly significant aspect to take into account.
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 a few users experienced a problem with Benchmark in which their emails were sent hours when they were first scheduled. 1 customer theorized the issue might arise in lengthy lists of recipients. Not all clients of Benchmark will possess time-sensitive sending demands, but other people will. Should you need your mails to go out exactly when your schedule dictates, you might need to take into account this issue.
· 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 were worried that Benchmark’s templates may feel like spam mail, causing recipients to mark them as spam and not reading the contents. Since the whole point of an ESP would be to prevent this from occurring, this might be an issue. On the other hand, I never felt this way while searching through the template list, therefore it may not be the most valid of complaints.
Benchmark Offers a enormous number of pricing strategies, including a totally free plan and a huge array of paid plans which may service anywhere between 600 and 7,140,000 subscribers.
Benchmark’s free programs do not require credit Cards, that is always refreshing. The only catch. There will be a small Benchmark logo in the bottom of each email you send out. Of course, you can always choose to upgrade to a paid plan if you don’t want the Benchmark branding. The free plan allows you to send up to 14000 mails to around 2000 subscribers and gives you access to all but not all Benchmark’s features list. Notable absences to the attributes list for free accounts include email automation and sub-accounts (allowing multiple users to get one Benchmark account).
Paid Strategies. Icontact Email Marketing
Users with small contacts lists and limited Monthly messages have the option of paying to get their email advertising based on the number of emails that they send each 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 Plans. 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 you a 25% discount for nonprofits and teachers.
Benchmark is a good program. It’s easy to use, Open to innovation, and competitively priced. Its free options may just be the very best in the company for anyone who just wants to dip into email advertising (especially small, local companies ). For that matter, any Benchmark plan can work well for a small company which views email as a minor aspect of its marketing and does not have any desire to work past the principles just yet.
If you are a little or maybe medium-sized Business looking for a simple email advertising program using a multitude of amazing features, Benchmark is an excellent option. Even though there might come a time when you outgrow the program, it supplies a lot for the money, offers excellent support, and the business seems to be sensitive to the needs of its users. You can not ask for much more.