For many a day in 2004, three people sat Around one desk in a small medical office — an office that functioned as the group’s conference room, lunch room, and idea heart. Backed by a little programming team in India, the trio (comprising Benchmark Internet Group founder Curt Keller, his wife Denise, along with an SEO expert) discussed ideas on how best to implement a deceptively simple concept. Simple email advertising. Many of their thoughts were beyond the means of this fledgling company, but that didn’t stop Keller from planning ahead.
The first Customers of Benchmark Mail were small companies located in close proximity to Benchmark’s one-room HQ in Long Beach, CA. Keller and his team personally sold them on the usage of email advertising, while working hard to create a very simple user interface which would be simple to operate. All the while, the business championed such novel ideas as customizable templates and software which adapted to user requirements. They also made certain from the beginning that anyone who needed help would have quick access to outstanding customer care.
Benchmark Has continued to grow and advantagesper. Its current focus. Providing worldwide email advertising services to small and midsize companies while continuing to honor a commitment to assist kids in need. This does not mean that Benchmark is a little-guys-only service, however; it’s adhered to its core principle of adaptability and serves big organizations such as UNICEF and Kaiser-Permanente through its High Volume Enterprise plans.
Today, Benchmark serves up of 73,000 users from throughout the planet, however, the company has not forgotten its roots. Benchmark still keeps good relationships with little, locally-based companies. In reality, the organization offers a full page of testimonials from local users of this program. You can read about Benchmark’s background and development here.
While most of the features Benchmark provides Are on par with the rest of the business, among the standout features of the ESP is the simple fact that most of its features come standard with each accounts — such as the free ones. Below are some 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 categories, some of which are tailored to particular industries like education, entertainment, and retail. There is also a category for social media-specific templates.
· Video Emails. Perhaps the best-known benefit of Benchmark is its support for video mails. The company describes the advantages of this feature here.
· Online Surveys. You can create professional-looking online polls using one of Benchmark’s 6 templates. Post your poll on your website or construct it into an email.
· Dedicated Email Server. All of Benchmark’s High Volume plans come with 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 here.
· Email Delivery Management. Benchmark’s email shipping management program is about getting customers’ mails into inboxes. The business is a member of the Email Sender and Provider Coalition and operates with ReturnPath, a top email delivery and consulting service. The company also communicates with ISPs on its customers’ behalf. Sendblaster
· 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 layout and send quick email blasts with one of 10 templates that are available. That is quite a little more than many other companies offer in their mobile apps, making them much more functional.
· Photo Editing. If the pictures you intend to use on your email campaign are not perfectly sized or want 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 provides this ultra-customization option with which you may construct your mails from scratch.
· Autoresponder. Every Benchmark client has the ability to style up to eight custom autoresponder messages. These can be scheduled as a series or event lead-up, or made as yearly messages like birthday or anniversary emails.
· Sign-Up Types . The only way to become prosperous in email advertising is through growing your own list, and Benchmark really promotes doing so through sign-up forms. The business bases its Free For Life account completely around website and Facebook sign-ups and supplies an easy-to-use instrument to create customized templates for each medium.
· Inbox Checker. Because every email program differs and every internet browser has a signature style, making certain your emails look good across the board is important. You can use Inbox Checker to look at the way that your email screens in Gmail using Explorer and Outlook 3. Using the entire app (which assesses everything from AOL to Yahoo, Explorer to Safari, mobile to PC) is a paid add-on provider, available for $14 each 100 checks.
· RSS-to-Email. Regular bloggers may create newsletters from their blogs mechanically through the RSS-to-Email attribute, which works with any blog which manages an RSS-feed. Users only need to establish a template and campaign 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 with XML-RPC, HTTP POST, or HTTP GET abilities to recover data from some other apps which use JSON, XML, XML-RPC, or PHP serialization strings. In a nutshell, this allows them to perform three purposes. Manage contact lists, manage campaigns and campaign sending, and check data. The business describes this function in more detail here.
· Advanced Metrics. Benchmark provides both List Segmentation and AB Split Testing.
· Multiple-Language Interface. Benchmark is available in seven languages. Chinese, English, German, Japanese, Italian, Portuguese, and Spanish.
Ease Of Use
Enrolling in a Benchmark account is pretty straightforward. After entering your name, email, contact number, and company name, you need to validate your email address. This is a five-minute process for me. Upon logging into my new account (using the free program ) I was greeted by an attractive UI that gave me a clear direction on the best way to create my very first email campaign. Great beginning!
Email Campaign Creation
On its dashboard, Benchmark offers users five main choices. Emails, Automations, Contacts, Surveys, and Reports. To make a new campaign, go to the Emails section, then hit the large blue”Create New Mail” button in the upper right-hand corner. Sendblaster
From there, you have to decide If You Would like an RSS Or traditional 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 went 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, in addition to when I wanted an automatic tweet once the effort went out. The following task was to select which contacts I wanted to get the campaign. With that, I was eventually able to begin constructing the email . If you would like to, you can assemble your own email designs employing a very intuitive editor. On the flip side, you can alter one of Benchmark’s templates, which are great, and much better than I was able to do on my own.
Preventing the Email Campaign
If You’re just Starting out, you can do as I did and manually input contacts at a time. However, for people who already have a list, there are numerous ways to import it. You can upload a CSV, xls, or txt file right from the computer; import contacts directly from Salesforce.com, Hotmail, or Gmail accounts; or copy and paste large lists of contacts into a text type. Once you create your Benchmark lists, then they’ll show up on your dashboard, along with a Master Unsubscribe List.
The actual sending of the email is rather easy. Once you’ve finished all your tweaks, you may either save the email as a draft, send it instantly, or schedule a time and date for delivery. If you want to verify all is well before unleashing your email about the planet, you can send it to yourself to preview it as many as 10 times/day. I chose to schedule my email for delivery to view how timely the automated system would actually 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 present in tolerance levels for most users. If you’re one of the more infrequent users who need on-the-minute email sending, then you may need to look elsewhere. More worryingly, my email didn’t go to my primary inbox but was automatically sorted into my”promotions” folder. Definitely not perfect.
Email Campaign Reporting
The first thing I Discovered about Benchmark email reports was something I’d read in a few reviews. They are really, really quickly. I mean lightning fast. Opens register from the Benchmark system almost immediately. I’ve worked with several different apps where these reports require hours or even days to look.
Benchmark provides users with several key Pieces of information about every effort. The arguably most important statistic, the available speed, seems in both pie chart and numerical form. Additionally, Benchmark supplies users with stats for clicks, forward, bounces, unsubscribes, and misuse. Each stat further breaks down to the exact email addresses related to a given activity. Users may export this information for further analysis via a csv or xls file. There’s also a social media area which reports shares through Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn, in addition to a map which breaks down, by country, that opens your mails. Sendblaster
Though all of this information Is Excellent and Necessary, it is not enough to sustain higher level marketers who want more information such as conversions, which links were clicked, and revenue analysis. Though Google Analytics provides a lot of that information with proper integration, there may come a time when serious entrepreneurs need more information than Benchmark provides. Whether or not a small company will reach that point changes, naturally, based on the company.
Specific Size Of Company
Benchmark designed its 3-tiered pricing Structure with the objective of serving everyone from the tiniest kitchen-table startup to big email marketers. On the other hand, 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 reality that customers subscribing to the medium plans get unlimited emails, while bigger plans have constraints.
Integrations and Add-Ons
Benchmark Offers roughly 20 plug-ins and integrations. If you do not observe the integration you want, there is still hope. You can use the API or ask a integration by sending an email to [email protected]
· Benchmark Events — Benchmark Events is event marketing applications designed to integrate fully with Benchmark Email. Launched in 2012, this program allows users to make and customize events, promote and sell tickets, and track the success of the events via their Benchmark Email account. A number of programs are available, such as a free option.
· Salesforce.com — This integration allows users to import contacts directly into Benchmark and use Benchmark’s email system to maintain Salesforce customers participated. Read our review of Salesforce here.
· WordPress — Benchmark Email Lite is a WordPress plug-in which permits users to easily build an email viewer through their readers. The plugin can automatically create email variations of blog articles 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 plug-in allows you to supply pictures for your Benchmark mails from places throughout the net. Benchmark Power captures images you find and immediately uploads them to your Benchmark accounts for future use.
· Flickr — Users with Flickr accounts may link Flickr to their Benchmark image galleries.
· Shopify — You are able to link a Shopify account to Benchmark and mechanically add Shopify clients to Benchmark lists. You may even add contributors to various lists based on which products they bought. Read our overview of Shopify here.
· PayPal — Users can add some of the PayPal clients to their Benchmark email lists bylinking the accounts. Read our review of Paypal here.
· Easy List — Know more about this simple list-making program and download it .
· WordPress — The ever-present site and website builder provides an integration with Benchmark. Use it to send mails of your blog articles and use the analytics to see how your readers respond to them. Learn more here.
· Zapier — Gain access to Zapier’s huge integration library here. Sendblaster
Social Media Integrations
Because Of the integral connection between social media and email marketing, it’s very important to check out the social networking features included in Benchmark.
· Social Media Templates — One section of Benchmark’s enormous email template listing is made of social media-specific templates which directly promote your institution’s participation in social networking forums like facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.
· Facebook”Like” Button — Benchmark offers a very simple function which allows you to bring a Facebook”Just Like” button to your own emails.
· Facebook Sign-Up Form — Benchmark supplies easy-to-create sign-up forms (see”Features” above) for both websites and Facebook fan pages, so you can convert followers into 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 which will direct your subscribers 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 concerning the selection of personal data from citizens of these nations. When clients provide credit card amounts to Benchmark, the business utilizes secure socket layer (SSL) security to encrypt the information. The entire platform is encrypted to ensure the safety of all customers’ personal information.
Anti-Spam Policy and Protection
Like All legitimate ESPs, Benchmark takes spam seriously and outlines a clear zero-tolerance coverage for any of their users hoping to take part in spam actions. The business is fully in compliance with all the U.S. CAN-SPAM Act of 2003. Benchmark also takes several measures to preserve its standing as a spam-free provider, among them membership from the Email Sender and Provider Coalition. The business uses the program SpamAssassin to filter messages delivered through its server.
To stop users from Unknowingly sending spam-like materials, Benchmark provides a spam test feature which looks for words commonly utilized in spam messages. It scores every email on a scale from 1 to 5; 5s are assigned to content that’s very likely to be blocked. In case of a high score, the program suggests”less spammy” choices. Individualized IP addresses also help large-volume senders decrease their spam amounts.
Client Support and Service
Benchmark Offers its users a lot of support tools. Customer support is usually responsive, with minimal waiting times. The site offers good learning resources, but can be needlessly opaque at times. Crucial information is often buried and difficult to locate, particularly in the event that you don’t know precisely what you’re searching for, especially in regards to minute details about strategies. For instance. The Free For Life plan comprises Benchmark branding on each email, however you won’t see that mentioned on the Free For Life webpage, not even at 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. Sendblaster
· Live Email and Support — Benchmark provides live one-on-one support through the following means.
· Email Service. Contact Benchmark at [email protected] or through the organization’s contact form . Available 24 hours Monday — Friday and limited hours on Saturday.
· Phone Support. You are able to reach Benchmark at 800-430-4095 (U.S.) or even 001-562-252-3789 (all states ). Available weekdays from 6 am to 5 pm PT.
· Chat Support. Available almost 24 hours daily Monday — Friday and restricted hours on Saturday. Founded in English, Spanish, Portuguese, and Italian.
· FAQ — Benchmark’s FAQ section is somewhat mislabeled as it is closer to a QandA-format knowledge base than a typical FAQ. There are over 900 entries, sorted into 18 topics ranging from”Getting Started” to”API.” Users may perform 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’s pretty much inevitable that some entries are going to be out of date. Some of the QandAs provide information which is wholly incorrect, so in some cases, you may need to contact assistance to hash things out.
· Video Tutorials and Webinars — Benchmark provides about two dozen movie tutorials which take users step by step through the features of this app. The company also supplies a webinar called”Benchmark Email Crash Course.” You can see it live each Friday at 10.00 a.m. PST or watch the recorded version at any time. You can also request a particular webinar on quite a few other topics. Live webinars comprise the chance to ask questions during the presentation.
· Email Marketing Manuals and Articles — You can find more in-depth information on email marketing in general, in addition to the Benchmark program especially, at the Manuals Section. These downloadable files also cover industry-specific troubles. Articles, similar to sites, offer users guidance beyond that found in the FAQ section, but in shorter, more readable chunks than the manuals provide.
· Glossary of Email Marketing Terms — This can be a particularly helpful tool for those new to email marketing who feel absorbed by all of the jargon. Benchmark provides a glossarywith 50 of the most popular email marketing conditions 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 extremely active site. All readers automatically gain access to present newsletters, and Benchmark also offers an archive of newsletter articles 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 discuss newsletter creation strategies, vote for their favourite newsletters, and gain inspiration from other Benchmark users.
Web-Based Or Locally-Installed
Benchmark is entirely web-based and doesn’t Require any installation on your PC.
Positive Reviews and Testimonials
Benchmark Includes a four-out-of-five star rating on G2 Crowd, using a slightly better showing on GetApp and Capterra. 4.5 stars each. Sendblaster
Some common points of praise.
· Top Notch Support. This is perhaps the most typical observation concerning Benchmark, and something I noticed for myself as well. People tend to find support prompt and helpful, and some say it is actually the component that distinguishes Benchmark from its competitors. The business also receives praise for its blog posts and videos.
· Feature Selection Across All Plans. Some customers praise the inclusion of attributes like AB testing and surveys from most programs; many firms charge extra for these attributes or only include them in their pricier plans.
· Benefits of Use. Users have a tendency to find Benchmark’s interface incredibly intuitive and user-friendly. The program gathers compliments from a broad range of demographics, from first-time ESP users to people who have attempted many different programs before settling on Benchmark.
· Mobile Friendly Emails. Consumers were impressed with the mobile-friendly email design 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 not able to find many people who loathed Their own Benchmark experience. But, I was able to find a few complaints.
· Inconsistent Send-Times. Apparently a few users experienced an issue with Benchmark where their mails were sent hours when they were scheduled. 1 customer theorized that 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 emails to go out precisely whenever your program dictates, you may need to consider this situation.
· Buggy Social Media Integrations. I saw several user reviews that commented the social networking integrations in Benchmark are not up to par.
· “Spammy” Templates. Some users were worried that Benchmark’s templates can feel like spam mail, leading receivers to mark them as junk and not reading the contents. Since the whole point of an ESP is to stop this from happening, this may be an issue. On the other hand, I never felt this way whilst looking through the template list, so it might not be the most valid of complaints.
Benchmark Provides a huge variety of pricing strategies, including a totally free plan and a huge array of paid plans that can 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’ll be a small Benchmark emblem in the bottom of each email you send out. Of course, you can always choose to upgrade to a paid plan in case you don’t want the Benchmark branding. The free plan permits you to send up to 14000 mails to up to 2000 subscribers and gives you access to most but not all of Benchmark’s features record. Notable absences to the features list for free account comprise email automation and sub-accounts (enabling multiple users to get one Benchmark accounts ).
Paid Plans. Sendblaster
Users with little contacts lists and restricted Monthly messages have the choice of paying to get their email marketing depending on the number of mails that they send every month.
o Moderate Plans. 600-50,000 subscribers, $13.99-$254.99 a month
o Large Strategies. 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 a 25% discount for nonprofits and teachers.
Benchmark is a solid program. It’s easy to use, Open to innovation, and competitively priced. Its free options may just be the best in the business for anybody who just wants to dip into email advertising (especially small, local companies ). For that matter, any Benchmark strategy can work nicely for a little company which views email as a minor aspect of its advertising and has no desire to operate beyond the basics just yet.
If you are a small or maybe medium-sized Company looking for a simple email advertising program using a host of amazing features, Benchmark is an exceptional choice. Though there may come a time when you launch the app, it provides a great deal for the price, offers excellent support, and the company seems to be sensitive to the requirements of its users. You can’t ask for much more.