Overview Social Media Marketing
For many a day in 2004, three people sat Around a single desk in a small medical office — an office that functioned as the group’s conference room, breakfast area, and thought hub. Backed by a little programming group in India, the trio (consisting of Benchmark Internet Group founder Curt Keller, his wife Denise, and an search engine optimization pro ) discussed ideas on how best to implement a deceptively straightforward idea. Simple email marketing. Many of the ideas were beyond the means of the fledgling company, but that did not stop Keller from moving ahead.
The first Customers of Benchmark Email were small businesses located in close proximity to Benchmark’s one-room HQ in Long Beach, CA. Keller and his team personally sold them on the use of email advertising, while working hard to make a very simple user interface that 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 anybody who needed help would have quick access to excellent customer care.
Benchmark Has continued to rise and advantagesper. Its present focus. Providing global email marketing solutions to small and medium-sized companies while continuing to honor a commitment to assist 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 such as UNICEF and Kaiser-Permanente through its High Volume Enterprise plans.
Today, Benchmark serves up of 73,000 users from across the globe, but the company has not forgotten its origins. Benchmark still maintains good relationships with small, locally-based businesses. In reality, the organization offers a full page of testimonials from local users of this app. You may read more about Benchmark’s background and development here.
While the Majority of the features Benchmark provides Are on par with the rest of the business, one of the standout characteristics of this ESP is the fact that nearly all its attributes come standard with each accounts — including the free ones. Here are some of Benchmark’s most notable offerings.
· Hundreds of Industry-Specific, Themed Templates. Benchmark provides 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 category for social media-specific templates.
· Video Emails. Possibly 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 surveys using among Benchmark’s 6 templates. Post your poll on your site or construct it directly into an email.
· Dedicated Email Server. All of Benchmark’s High Volume programs have a dedicated IP address to help increase deliverability rates. Users on other programs have the option of paying for this service ($30/month) to increase their own delivery stats. Read more about the advantages of dedicated servers here.
· Email Delivery Management. Benchmark’s email shipping management program is all about getting customers’ emails into inboxes. The business is a member of the Email Sender and Provider Coalition and operates with ReturnPath, a leading email delivery and delivery service. The company also communicates with ISPs on its clients’ behalf. Social Media Marketing
· Mobile App. Benchmark’s mobile programs allow customers with an Apple device to get several purposes on the road. They can get and add contacts, read reportsand 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 programs, which makes them much more operational.
· Photo Editing. If the pictures you plan to utilize in your email campaign are not perfectly sized or want some color adjustment, you may use Benchmark’s integrated photo editor. This is a pretty handy feature if you do not 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 can construct your emails from scratch.
· Autoresponder. Every Benchmark customer has the power to design around eight custom autoresponder messages. These could be scheduled as a string or occasion lead-up, or made as yearly messages like anniversary or birthday mails.
· Sign-Up Types . The only way to become successful in email advertising is by way of 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 instrument to create custom templates for each medium.
· Inbox Checker. Because every email program is different and every web browser includes a signature fashion, making sure that your emails look great across the board is crucial. It is possible to use Inbox Checker to look at the way that your email screens in Gmail using Explorer and Outlook 3. Using the full program (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 may create newsletters out of their sites automatically through the RSS-to-Email attribute, which works with any site which handles an RSS-feed. Users simply need to establish a template and campaign within Benchmark once.
· API Integration. An API (Application Program Interface) enables different software programs to communicate with one another without a formal plug-in link. Benchmark’s API Integration feature allows users using XML-RPC, HTTP POST, or HTTP GET skills to recover data from some other apps that use JSON, XML, XML-RPC, or PHP serialization strings. In brief, this permits them to play three purposes. Manage contact lists, handle campaigns and effort sending, and check statistics. The business explains this role in more detail here.
· Advanced Metrics. Benchmark provides both Listing 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
Signing up for a Benchmark account is fairly straightforward. After entering your name, email, phone number, and company name, you have to confirm your email address. This is a five-minute process for me. Upon logging into my new account (with the free program ) I was greeted by an appealing UI that gave me a clear direction on the best way to make my very first email campaign. Good start!
Email Campaign Creation
On its dashboard, Benchmark provides users five chief options. Emails, Automations, Contacts, Surveys, and Reports. To make a new effort, go to the Emails section, then hit the large blue”Create New Email” button in the top right-hand corner. Social Media Marketing
From there, you have to 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 with the built-in code editor. If you are somebody 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 alternative.
I was motivated to enter a subject line for my Email and setup how much observation I wanted on the message, in addition to if I wanted an automatic tweet when the campaign 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 want to, you can assemble your own email layouts using a very intuitive editor. On the flip side, you can modify 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 certainly do as I did and manually input contacts at a time. However, for people who already have a list, there are several ways to import it. You can upload a CSV, xls, or txt file directly from the personal computer; import contacts directly from Salesforce.com, Hotmail, or Gmail accounts; or copy and paste large lists of contacts to a text type. When you make your Benchmark lists, then they’ll appear on your dash, together with a Master Unsubscribe List.
The sending of the email is quite easy. Once you have finished all your tweaks, you can either save email as a draft, send it instantly, or schedule a date and time for delivery. If you want to verify all is well before unleashing your email on the world, you can send it to your self to preview it as many as 10 times/day. I opted to schedule my email for shipping to view how timely the automated system would really be. I scheduled my email for 2.45 and obtained it at 2.50, therefore while the timing was not exactly perfect, it was likely within tolerance levels for many users. If you’re among the more rare users who need on-the-minute email sending, you might have to appear elsewhere. More worryingly, my email did not go to my primary inbox but was automatically sorted into my”promotions” folder. Definitely not perfect.
Mail Campaign Reporting
The first thing I Discovered about Benchmark email reports was something I’d read about in a few reviews. They’re really, really quickly. I mean lightning fast. Opens register in the Benchmark system almost instantaneously. I have worked with a lot of other programs where these reports require hours or even days to appear.
Benchmark provides users with several key Bits of data about every campaign. The arguably most important statistic, the open speed, seems in both pie chart and numerical type. Additionally, Benchmark supplies users with stats such as clicks, forward, bounces, unsubscribes, and misuse. Each stat further breaks down to the specific email addresses associated with a given action. Users can export this data for additional analysis via a csv or xls file. There’s also a social media place which reports shares through Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn, as well as a map which breaks down, by country, that opens your mails. Social Media Marketing
Though all of this information Is Excellent and Necessary, it is not enough to sustain higher level marketers who want more info such as conversions, which hyperlinks were clicked, and earnings analysis. Though Google Analytics provides a lot of this info with appropriate integration, there may come a time when serious marketers need more info than Benchmark provides. Whether a small business will get to that point varies, naturally, based on the business.
Specific Size Of Company
Benchmark made its 3-tiered pricing Structure with the goal of serving everybody from the smallest kitchen-table startup to big email marketers. On the other hand, the company’s main focus is on small to medium companies, particularly those just starting out in email advertising. This is particularly reflected in the reality that clients subscribing to the medium plans get unlimited emails, while bigger 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’s still hope. You can use the API or request an integration by sending an email to [email protected]
· Benchmark Occasions — Benchmark Occasions is event marketing applications designed to integrate fully with Benchmark Email. Launched in 2012, this program allows users to make and customize occasions, promote and market tickets, and monitor the success of the events through their Benchmark Email account. A variety of subscriptions are available, such as a free option.
· Salesforce.com — This integration enables users to import contacts into Benchmark and utilize Benchmark’s email system to maintain Salesforce customers engaged. Read our overview of Salesforce here.
· Twitter — Benchmark Email Lite is a WordPress plug-in which allows users to quickly 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 using a Benchmark listing. Read our overview of Highrisehere.
· Benchmark Power — This free plug-in lets you source images for your Benchmark emails from places throughout the web. Benchmark Power captures pictures you find and immediately uploads them to your Benchmark accounts for future usage.
· Flickr — Users with Flickr accounts can link Flickr for their Benchmark image galleries.
· Shopify — You can link a Shopify accounts to Benchmark and mechanically add Shopify customers to Benchmark lists. You can even add subscribers to various lists based on what they bought. Read our review of Shopify here.
· PayPal — Users can add any of their PayPal clients for their own Benchmark email lists bylinking the accounts. Read our overview 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 using Benchmark. Use it to send mails of your blog posts and use the analytics to see how your readers react to them. Learn more here.
· Zapier — Gain entry to Zapier’s huge integration library here. Social Media Marketing
Social Media Integrations
Since Of the integral connection between social networking and email advertising, it is very important to check out the social networking features contained in Benchmark.
· Social Media Templates — One segment of Benchmark’s massive email template list consists of social media-specific templates that directly promote your institution’s participation in social networking forums such as Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.
· Facebook”Like” Button — Benchmark provides a very simple function which permits you to bring a Facebook”Just Like” button into your 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 to readers.
· Social Links within Email — Once you link your Benchmark account together with your Facebook, Twitter, and/or LinkedIn account, you can add buttons to each email which will direct your subscribers to each of your social media 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 company 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 valid ESPs, Benchmark takes junk seriously and outlines a clear zero-tolerance coverage for any of their users trying to take part in spam actions. The business is fully in compliance with all the U.S. CAN-SPAM Act of 2003. Benchmark additionally takes several measures to preserve its reputation as a spam-free supplier, one of them membership from the Email Sender and Provider Coalition. The company uses the program SpamAssassin to filter messages sent through its server.
To stop users from Unknowingly sending spam-like substances, Benchmark provides a spam test feature which looks for words widely used in spam messages. It scores each email on a scale from 1 to 5; 5s are assigned to content that is 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 Service and Support
Benchmark Offers its users a lot of support resources. Customer service is generally responsive, with minimal waiting times. The site offers good learning tools, but can be opaque occasionally. Crucial information can be buried and difficult to find, especially if you don’t know precisely what you’re searching for, particularly in regards to minute particulars about plans. As an example. The Free For Life plan includes Benchmark branding on every email, but you won’t find that mentioned on the Free For Life page, not even at the fine print. Nor will you see it mentioned when you sign up. The only place it’s mentioned is at the FAQ, here.
Here are some of those resources Benchmark offers. Social Media Marketing
· Live Email and Support — Benchmark provides live one-on-one aid through the following means.
· Email Service. Contact Benchmark at [email protected] or via the organization’s contact form . Available 24 hours Monday — Friday and restricted hours on Saturday.
· Telephone Support. You are able to reach Benchmark in 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 nearly 24 hours daily Monday — Friday and limited hours on Saturday. Founded in English, Spanish, Portuguese, and Italian.
· FAQ — Benchmark’s FAQ section is somewhat mislabeled because it is closer to a QandA-format knowledge base than a typical FAQ. There are more than 900 entries, sorted into 18 topics ranging from”Getting Started” to”API.” Users may execute a key word search of any topic (or sub-topic) or from the 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. Some of the QandAs provide information which is wholly incorrect, 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 Mail Crash Course.” You may see it live each Friday at 10.00 a.m. PST or watch the recorded version at any moment. You might also request a special webinar on a number of different topics. Live webinars comprise the opportunity to ask questions throughout 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 specifically, in the Manuals Section. These downloadable files also cover industry-specific issues. Articles, similar to blogs, offer users advice beyond that found in the FAQ section, but in shorter, more digestible chunks than the manuals provide.
· Glossary of Email Marketing Terms — This is a particularly helpful tool for all those new to email marketing who believe consumed by all the jargon. Benchmark gives a glossarywith 50 of the very popular email marketing conditions from”above-the-fold” into”whitelists.”
· Blog and Newsletter — For current information about email marketing trends, check out Benchmark’s monthly newsletter, in addition to its extremely active site. All subscribers automatically gain access to current newsletters, and Benchmark also offers an archive of newsletter posts from November 2007-October 2012.
· Benchmark Community — Benchmark users can 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 other Benchmark users.
Web-Based Or Locally-Installed
Benchmark is completely web-based and doesn’t Require any setup on your PC.
Favorable 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. Social Media Marketing
Some common points of compliments.
· Top Notch Support. This is maybe the most typical monitoring concerning Benchmark, and something I noticed for myself too. People are inclined to find support prompt and helpful, and a few say it is actually the element that distinguishes Benchmark from its rivals. The company also receives praise for its website articles and videos.
· Feature Selection Across All Plans. Some customers praise the addition of attributes including AB analyzing and surveys from all programs; many companies charge extra for these features or just include them into their pricier programs.
· Benefits of Use. Users tend to locate Benchmark’s interface extremely user-friendly and intuitive. The program gathers compliments from a broad assortment of demographics, from first-time ESP users to people who have attempted a variety of programs before settling on Benchmark.
· Mobile Friendly Emails. Users were impressed with all 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 disliked Their own Benchmark experience. However, I managed to find a few complaints.
· Inconsistent Send-Times. Apparently some users experienced a problem with Benchmark in which their emails were sent hours after they were first scheduled. 1 customer theorized that the issue might arise from long lists of recipients. Not all customers of all Benchmark will possess time-sensitive shipping demands, but other people will. Should you need your emails to go out precisely whenever your program dictates, you may have to take into account this situation.
· Buggy Social Media Integrations. I saw several user reviews that remarked the social media integrations in Benchmark aren’t up to par.
· “Spammy” Templates. Some users have been worried that Benchmark’s templates may feel like spam mail, leading recipients to mark them as junk and not studying the contents. Since the whole point of an ESP would be to prevent this from happening, this may be a problem. On the other hand, I never felt this way whilst searching through the template list, so it might not be the most valid of complaints.
Benchmark Offers a enormous number of pricing strategies, including a free plan and a huge array of paid programs that can service anywhere between 600 and 7,140,000 subscribers.
Benchmark’s free plans do not require charge Cards, that is always refreshing. The only catch. There will be a little Benchmark emblem at the bottom of every email you send out. Of course, 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 emails to up to 2000 subscribers and provides you access to most but not all of Benchmark’s features list. Notable absences to the features list for free account comprise email automation and sub-accounts (enabling many users to access one Benchmark accounts ).
Paid Plans. Social Media Marketing
Users with small contacts lists and restricted Monthly messages have the choice of paying for their email advertising depending on the number of emails they send every month.
o Moderate Plans. 600-50,000 subscribers, $13.99-$254.99 per month
o Large Plans. 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 per 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% reduction for nonprofits and educators.
Benchmark is a solid program. It is Simple to Use, Open to innovation, and competitively priced. Its free options might very well be the best in the company for anyone who just wants to dip into email advertising (particularly small, neighborhood companies ). For that matter, any Benchmark strategy can work nicely for a small company which perspectives email as a minor element of its advertising and does not have any desire to operate past the principles just yet.
If you are a little or even medium-sized Company trying to find a simple email marketing program using a host of great features, Benchmark is an exceptional option. Though there may come a time when you outgrow the program, it supplies a great deal for the price, offers exceptional service, and the company seems to be sensitive to the needs of its customers. You can’t ask for much more.